In a week that has seen even more uncertainty and dare I say dithering from our Govt it is refreshing that again they are being told in their own reports (and clearly by one of their own) that they need to set out strong, clear and supportive policy to give some confidence to industry and this time not just the energy sector. Lord Heseltine
has called on the government to bolster investor certainty in UK energy policy.
The recommendations appear in his independent report
launched yesterday that contains 89 action points to boost economic growth and the UK's ability to create wealth.
The former Deputy Prime Minister's wide-ranging review warns that the government lacks a strategy for growth creation. He calls for the establishment of a National Growth Council to help steer economic policy.
The report also urges the government to create the long-term investor certainty in energy policy needed to deliver the £200bn of investment in new energy infrastructure needed to meet stringent carbon reduction targets.
"Without real certainty about the UK's long-term energy policy, private investors simply will not risk the enormous sums of capital required to build our energy infrastructure," Heseltine writes in the report.
"These problems will not go away. Just as with major infrastructure projects, clear decisions are needed now.
"The government needs to set out a definitive and unambiguous energy policy, including the supporting financial regime, to give the sector the certainty to invest."
Significantly, Lord Heseltine touted long-standing plans for the Severn Barrage as a way of delivering a long-term energy supply and "extraordinary economic regeneration". The £30bn barrage proposal was reportedly revived by David Cameron over the summer, following a meeting with Neath MP Peter Hain, who is championing the scheme.
Lord Heseltine's report emerged on the same day as a major rift between ministers over the future of the UK's wind farm policy. Liberal Democrat Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey issued a stinging rebuke to Conservative junior Energy Minister John Hayes after Hayes declared his opposition to the continued expansion of onshore wind farms in the UK.
"To successfully rebalance the economy towards private sector growth, every part of Britain needs to grow - we mustn't just rely on the usual suspects of London and the South-East," he said.
Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne welcomed the report, saying they would respond to the recommendations over the coming weeks.
"I wanted Lord Heseltine to do what he does best -challenge received wisdom and give us ideas on how to bring government and industry together. He has done exactly that," said Osborne. "This is a report bursting with ideas and we will study it very carefully."
We will see what happens - but once again such meandering rhetoric will get us no closer to addressing either our economic, social or environmental needs. As for John Hayes and pepper - well !