Master Cutler Tony Pedder is all too aware that he has been repeating himself during his year in office, but that hasn’t stopped him raising one subject every chance he gets, for it is the lifeblood of manufacturing.
Energy has been his theme this year and although some battles have been won great concerns remain.
Following a campaign by the Company of Cutlers and manufacturers’ organisation the EEF, Chancellor George Osborne cut green taxes in the Budget.
But, speaking to hundreds of guests, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, at the 378th Cutlers’ Feast, he said there was a great deal more to be done to tackle security and capacity.
And fracking held some of the answers.
“Those who have heard me speak over the last few months would be surprised if I didn’t mention energy. I won’t disappoint you.
“It now seems clearly evidenced by what is happening in the United States, that abundant and globally competitive energy supply is a very major contributor to manufacturing confidence and hence investment growth. There seems to be a positive transformation in the US. We have the opportunity here in UK to replicate on a smaller scale, what is happening there. But we must act quickly.
“While new long-term energy options, like nuclear and tidal projects, are being developed here, we surely need to get behind the potentially more immediate solutions which it is suggested shale gas and oil extraction can provide for the UK.
“Our forefathers, none more so than here in Yorkshire, developed skills and techniques for geological extraction which are at the forefront of global knowledge and practice. I am sure that with the right environment, those skills, which have developed even further in recent years, can be successfully combined with current US experience and deployed to ensure safe extraction of the apparently abundant reserves of shale energy beneath our country to transform our economy in a similar way to what we are witnessing in the USA.
“As well as bringing many manufacturing businesses in to the UK, this is forecast to have the potential to create tens of thousands of supply chain jobs, many among this region’s engineers. This would contribute strongly to rebalancing the economy towards more manufacturing and also rebalancing the economy and job creation towards the manufacturing cities of the north – of which Sheffield is pre-eminent. Both would be greatly transforming developments for the UK.
“We must get on with this now.”