The energy sector and politicians in England and Wales should learn lessons from Scotland when it comes communication with the public.
That’s the view of National Grid boss Steve Holliday who said the time for action is now and the sector needs to convince the public of the changes in infrastructure needed to build our energy future. Speaking at the marketforce Future of Utilities conference this morning, he said Alex Salmond had got the communication right in Scotland and the public there were largely onside and the rest of the UK needed to take lessons.
“Public acceptability is a huge issue” said Mr Holliday.
“We’ve not really articulated as an industry or a government the need case of what clean energy is all about and why we need to build a new network. So the construction of lines is very difficult.
“I’m not expecting anyone ever to volunteer to have a power station at the end of their road or a pylon in their back garden. But we do need the public to understand this is important if we are to enjoy the benefits of power into the future.”
The National Grid boss said that the communication message was much clearer in Scotland where the public were onside.
“We actually need to listen, the industry needs to stop talking and presenting and listen to people and their concerns and then enter into the dialogue. Scotland’s made a lot more progress in this space actually to Alex Salmond’s credit. There is a dialogue in Scotland, there is a theme, a narrative around energy, infrastructure, jobs and the economy that surpasses anything we have down south at the moment. That’s an opportunity for us in the future.”
Mr Holliday went on to say EMR was the right step to take and that now it was the time to implement things and stop discussion.