Energy industry sets out Brexit priorities

Trade body Energy UK has laid out the industry’s priorities for Brexit negotiations in the wake of the triggering of Article 50.

The organisation’s chief executive Lawrence Slade said it was vital that the country continues to have a relationship with the EU that allows the efficient flow of electricity and gas across borders, and benefits UK energy customers.

“A positive outcome to the Brexit negotiations, supported by a long-term, stable framework delivered through the Industrial Strategy, could significantly help the UK to meet climate change targets, but also to deliver a bold and ambitious plan for energy – with more jobs, investment and environmental benefits, as we transition to a digital, decarbonised future,” he said.

His comments came as the Government pledged to maintain environmental protection once the country leaves the European Union (EU). In their white paper, ministers outlined how their Great Repeal Bill will transfer EU ordinances to UK law.

The document said: “The government is committed to ensuring that we become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

“The UK’s current legislative framework at national, EU and international level has delivered tangible environmental benefits, such as cleaner rivers and reductions in emissions of sulphur dioxide and ozone depleting substances emissions.

“The Great Repeal Bill will ensure that the whole body of existing EU environmental law continues to have effect in UK law.”

Investment and interconnectors

Energy UK laid out five key issues for Brexit negotiations:

  • minimise domestic policy uncertainty to encourage continued investment;
  • facilitate efficient trading of power and gas over the interconnectors to enhance security of supply, promote competition and reduce costs by sharing available resources and capacities;
  • ensure access to supply chain products free of tariffs and non-tariff barriers;
  • maintain liquidity in both electricity and gas markets;
  • and ensure access to a skilled and mobile labour force.

Slade said trade with Europe has given the UK access to “competitive and diverse sources of energy and thus contributes to our security of supply”.

Brexit ‘poker’

Environmental groups highlighted the need to monitor ministers’ use of secondary legislation, delegated powers and other statutory instruments that wouldn’t require parliamentary votes.

Trevor Hutchings, Director of Advocacy at WWF, said: “Now that the starting pistol has been fired, the UK Government must make sure that the environment is not left behind, and make good its promise to leave nature in a better state than it inherited it.

“The UK was a leading player in international climate negotiations and the first nation to adopt a domestic Climate Change Act but we are now in danger of slipping behind.”

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK’s Chief Scientist, added: “As Britain takes its seat at the Brexit poker table, our environmental laws should not be bargaining chips but money safe in the bank.

“Without them, Theresa May's promise of leaving a healthier environment to the next generation is doomed to fail.”

> Download the UK Government's white paper