Government must act now on energy

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Leading figures from major South Yorkshire manufacturers have told the Government to come up with a coherent energy policy before the lights go out and jobs are driven abroad.

The call comes from some of the region’s major energy users, led by recently installed Master Cutler and Sheffield Forgemasters chairman Tony Pedder.

They want the Government to abandon “green” taxes on manufacturing and reprieve coal-fired power stations until Britain’s recovery from recession is assured.

They also want to accelerate the building of nuclear power stations and a rapid, definitive decision on ‘fracking’ to release shale gas.

“There are two issues with energy,” says Mr Pedder. “One is capacity and our ability to keep the lights on. As far as costs are concerned, our costs are among the highest in Europe and a huge amount of that is down to climate change measures.

“Climate change is a 100 year problem, whereas getting the economy rebuilt is a five to 10 year problem.”

Alison Kinna, managing director of Sheffield-based Outokumpu Stainless Distribution, contrasts what she says is the British Government’s “mañana policy on energy” with the Chinese.

“China has a long term energy policy. They have seen the problem and are addressing it,” she says.

Cameron McLellan, operations director of Doncaster-based Polypipe, agrees.

“China is building lots of coal fired power stations for the short term, while they build up their nuclear capacity,” said Mr McLellan.

He fears plastic injection mouldings manufacturers will quit the UK for China.

Mr McLellan believes the UK Government should consider taxing imports from countries which don’t impose their own green taxes.