L- R Iain Wright MP, Mark Peebles (Emergya Wind Technology), Rebecca Johnson (Invicta Public Affair
Jamie Hardesty

Member Article

North East manufacturing round table discuss Government’s Industrial Strategy

Business leaders and politicians in the region have been discussing how the North East’s manufacturing sector can gain a competitive edge, following the government’s Industrial Strategy release last month.

In an event hosted by Newcastle law firm Muckle LLP, the Business Energy Policy meeting saw Hartlepool MP Iain Wright, who Chairs the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committee, discuss how businesses can access support from the government’s emerging energy strategy.

He said: “With the UK currently in the process of leaving the European Union we are seeing a great deal of political and economic uncertainty.

“It is now more important than ever to have a strong voice for local businesses and means by which they can connect with policy makers.”

Organised by Invicta Public Affairs, North East businesses in attendance included Emergya Wind Technology, the North East Automotive Alliance, Komatsu UK, Banks Group and Nifco.

The firms provided insights on how energy policy can best support manufacturing in the region, while also balancing the need to protect supply and meet national carbon reduction targets agreed by government.

Planning policy was cited as a key existing area of concern. The Chair was told that current planning guidance puts U.K. manufacturers, including the North East’s large automotive sector, at an unnecessary competitive disadvantage.

At present the government does not discern between large rural wind farms and the use of small single turbines at industrial sites, which would reduce energy costs and carbon emissions for businesses.

Mark Peebles, of Emergya Wind Technology said: “To encourage business growth Government policy must better reflect the needs of manufacturers in the UK. At present, ministerial guidance governing planning policy is preventing energy intensive business in this country from reducing their costs and becoming more competitive.

“A small policy clarification from Government would help business and industry to invest in technology that would underpin wealth and job creation for many years to come.”

The panel went on to argue that minor changes to existing policy would enable the region to become a manufacturing-led economic powerhouse.

This point was reiterated by Chi Onwurah, Newcastle Central MP and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy.

Chi said: “The UK’s Industrial Strategy should include a vision for the kind of economy we want – and that must include successful manufacturing industries with sustainable competitive energy supply.

“The roundtable was extremely useful in developing the policy approaches which can enable that.”

Andrew Davison, Partner at Muckle LLP and Head of their Energy team, added: “Muckle were delighted to host the meeting. We are working with a number of businesses regarding energy generation and efficiency.

“It is important that we work with opinion-formers and business leaders in the region to help get the changes we need in policy. A focus on the availability of energy at a competitive cost will help to shape the wider industrial strategy and its successful delivery.”

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