Industry responds to the Queen’s Speech

The government has set out its legislative agenda in the Queen’s Speech. But what does the industry think about it?

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Earlier today, the Queen delivered her speech signalling the State Opening of Parliament.

The speech gave a hint of new legislation that will bring forward reforms for the environment.

But what does the industry think?

Great to see green jobs creation at the heart of the policy agenda 

RenewableUK’s Head of Public Affairs Nathan Bennett said: “It’s great to see the government putting job creation and in particular the development of new skills and training at the heart of their policy agenda, as part of the green economic recovery after the pandemic.

“Ministers are right to highlight the massive opportunity which the UK has to demonstrate global leadership on tackling climate change at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November.”

Ofgem must now have a net zero mandate 

David Smith, Chief Executive of Energy Networks Association, said: “With the eyes of the world on the UK at COP26 now is the time to translate net zero ambition into tangible climate action. We know for certain that strategic investment can power an economic recovery from coronavirus.

“To this end, Ofgem must now have a net zero mandate at its heart to attract long-term investment, support jobs and green growth across the country while delivering the low cost, low carbon energy system the public need.”

A step in the right direction 

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech, Energy UK’s Chief Executive Emma Pinchbeck said: “Today’s Queen’s Speech is a step in the right direction towards readying the country for its net zero ambitions, however over the next 12 months the focus needs to be on policy development to support the energy industry to go further and faster to deliver the UK’s 2050 net zero target.

“The government’s focus on skills, infrastructure and environmental protections will be important for developing a sustainable long-term sector for the future, and to support a just transition.”

Environment Bill – third time lucky?

Commenting on what was unveiled during the Queen’s Speech, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) Director of Policy and External Affairs Martin Baxter said: “Whilst IEMA welcomes the confirmation that the Environment Bill will continue its course, it is ‘third time lucky’ for this Bill and essential that it receives Royal Assent as soon as possible.

“There is much work to do to establish long-term environmental targets, integrate environmental principles into whole-of-government policymaking and ensure that the new ‘green watchdog’, the Office for Environmental Protection, sets off on the right footing.

“The announcement that a new Planning Bill will be introduced to speed up development consent must be consistent with delivering the long-term environmental targets and improvements set through the Environment Bill.”

‘Disappointing that there is nothing new’

Matthew Lockwood, Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, said: “The Queen’s Speech is a missed opportunity for a renewed and concrete vision for meeting our carbon reduction targets.

“The government’s policies as indicated in the June 2020 Climate Change Committee progress report seeing the UK drift off track for net zero by the mid-2020s.

“The December 2020 ten point plan in theory makes up the gap but there was only £4 billion of new funding announced then, so it’s disappointing that there is nothing new in the Queen’s Speech given that this is the year that we are hosting COP26 and we should be showing the world leadership on this issue.”

The new planning system is likely to conflict with the ‘green’ growth

Dr Bonnie Holligan, Lecturer in Property Law at the University of Sussex, said: “The Environment Bill includes a requirement to set environmental targets, including targets for biodiversity protection.

“However, to meet our urgent climate and biodiversity challenges, the government needs to do much more to explain how it will ensure that its plans for housing and economic growth don’t come at the expense of the environment.

“The aim to ‘modernise’ the planning system with a new planning bill seems likely to conflict with the aim to ensure that development does not damage our precious green spaces.”

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