Bonfire of red tape ‘most damaging energy decision’

Decisions taken in the government’s ‘bonfire of red tape’ have been more harmful  to energy investment than any changes in renewable energy subsidy, according to key industry investor Siemens.

Interviewing Matthew Knight, Siemens director of strategy and government affairs, GB & Ireland exclusively in New Power, editor Janet Wood asked what had been the most damaging of decision taken recently in energy. He says it was not those that changed subsidy levels or halted onshore wind.

Instead, “it was zero-carbon homes. It was talked about for ten years, legislated for six years ago. A whole supply chain was building up… Six months before it was set to go, government scrapped it and it was not because it was bad regulation, they just scrapped it because it was regulation and it was there.
“That is the sort of thing that undermines investment in the UK. It’s not the thought that you might change your mind for a logical reason. It’s the thought that you might randomly take a policy away for no reason – just for a bonfire of regulation.”

After the Brexit referendum, there were stories that Siemens might reconsider its investment in a wind turbine factory in Hull. Matthew Knight says they came from comments made before the vote and he is keen to scotch suggestions the company would backpedal.
He is more equivocal about future expansion. “There are lots of things we would like to do at Hull in the future and they all depend on the future market. Anything that undermines the home market makes it harder to sell to the rest of the world.”

More from Matthew Knight: Scottish government must reassure investors

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