The deputy head of Britain’s top business trade body yesterday said the UK energy sector is at risk of falling victim to “paralysis by analysis” and urged the government to “stop arguing about the energy mix and start attracting investment”.
Neil Bentley, Deputy Director General of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) said energy policy in the UK “is becoming increasingly political” and what the country needed was “less politics and more policy”.
He was speaking at a press conference with UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who announced that the government’s Energy Bill would be published next month.
The Bill seeks to reform the entire energy sector by introducing contracts for difference – a fixed price paid to generators of electricity for the power they provide.
However exact details about these payments have been slow in being revealed and many trade organisations blame this for a stalling of investment in the UK’s power sector, particularly in nuclear and carbon capture and storage.
Just last week seven major players in the industry – including Alstom and Mitsubishi – stated they would consider re-evaluating their investment plans in Britain if decisive plans were not unveiled soon.
The situation has been compounded by in-fighting within the Cabinet over energy policy – Cameron pledged when he came to power in May 2010 that he would lead the “greenest government ever”, yet Osborne is a vocal advocate of more gas, less renewables, which is in stark contrast to Davey.
“The clock is ticking,” Bentley told Davey in London yesterday. “The Energy Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we need to grab that opportunity.
“Investors want substantive policy details, not targets. Energy investment is as much about growth as it is about low carbon power.”
He said the CBI wanted to see a “unified message from government that the UK is open for business on energy”.