CBI Urges the Government to Speed Up Energy Policy Reforms; GROUP WANTS TO SEE ACTION WITHIN SIX MONTHS

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Byline: CHRIS KELSEY

THE UK Government must move swiftly to deliver key energy and planning reforms within six months or risk failing to meet emissions targets and undermining energy security, the CBI warned today.

Launching a new report, No Time to Lose: Deciding Britain's Energy Future, the business group said that without clarity on government policy, pounds 150bn of private sector investment in low-carbon infrastructure would not materialise.

This investment is essential for the UK to achieve a secure, sustainable and cost-effective energy mix that includes renewable sources, nuclear power and fossil fuels.

The CBI said that uncertainty about the planning regime in particular is making investors wary of committing to new energy projects.

The Government has announced it will abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and replace it with a major infrastructure unit with decision-making powers returned to ministers.

Among measures the CBI is calling for from the UK Government by the end of February 2011 are tackling delays in the planning system, speeding up the development of carbon capture and storage technology, and providing more detail on electricity market reform, its renewable energy policy, and the implications of the Emissions Performance Standard. John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: "The Government's first few months in office have been rightly dominated by sorting out the fiscal deficit, but it must not let the timetable for energy and planning reform slip any further. "Energy companies are unable to get the ball rolling on new infrastructure projects when it is unclear how the future planning regime will work. "Uncertainty on plans for electricity market reform, slow progress on clean coal and nuclear power, as well as the cost of renewable energy, are adding to the mood of caution among investors.

"We need investment from companies, not delays from government."

By the end of February 2011, the CBI wants the Government to have moved forward on a whole range of issues across the spectrum of energy policy.

On planning, the organisation says the Government should have secured royal assent on a decentralisation and localism Bill which contains a coherent structure for major energy infrastructure planning, including requiring ministers to stick to decision-making timescales set out in the Planning Act and DECC ministers having sign-off for energy applications. …