BEIS green paper on “Industrial Strategy”

The government department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has issued a “green paper” (consultation document) “Building our Industrial Strategy” and is inviting comments

Deadline for comments is: 11:45 pm on 17th April (there is a web link for these).

I hope that BTN members will comment. Having a strategy is welcome, particularly for its commitment to improve equality across the nation, but you can tell that the department has its eye on its usual customers. A few of my thoughts are below:

The paper says that the strategy must:
• build on our strengths and extend excellence into the future;
• close the gap between the UK’s most productive companies, industries, places and people and the rest; and
• make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start or grow a business.

It is keen on big infrastructure projects, particularly the Hinckley Point nuclear power station, the Heathrow runway and HS2. There is a whole section “Delivering affordable energy and clean growth” This includes the ambition to win a “substantial share of the global market” in manufacturing and services around clean energy, but the first statement on this is to form a UK supply chain for Hinckley Point. The only genuinely renewable energy generation mentioned is offshore wind turbine manufacture. “solar” is not mentioned. Electric cars are glamorously illustrated, and grid management strategy for charging them is highlighted, but is the Government’s enthusiasm for them based more on playing to the UK’s “strength” in automotive engineering than a genuine commitment to integrating them into a “green” transport strategy?

The Government says it will commission “a review of the opportunities to reduce the cost of achieving our decarbonisation goals in the power and industrial sectors”. Could we add a thing or two to guide this? Microgeneration? Community solar? and INSULATION!! Also, do we want only to reduce up-front costs, or invest in the workforce to do labour-intensive jobs (like insulate EVERY home and factory) that will make the energy generation go further?

The Government plans to advance via “sector deals” with promising industrial sectors, to support innovation and employment. How do we make sure that these “deals” are with sectors that advance the clean, low-carbon economy and not with the “usual suspects” just because they happen to have big operations at present?… I don’t know, but we certainly won’t unless we submit our views and do not give up hope of influencing the BEIS just because we are individuals or small companies not “big business”. If you belong to a trade or professional association or a trade union, check out its policy secretariat – is it responding?

(pic below – Earlsburn Wind Farm, out of focus and partly in shadow – will the industrial strategy have any effect on national and local government attitudes to onshore wind? Photo taken by me on 2/1/2017.)