Britain’s politicians have been urged stop dithering, look beyond the next election and ensure industry can access secure energy supplies at competitive prices.
The call comes from newly installed Master Cutler Tony Pedder.
Mr Pedder told guests at his installation in Sheffield’s Cutlers’ Hall that energy policy was high on his list of priorities.
The Master Cutler highlighted the experience of the US, which was starting to take full advantage of its shale gas reserves to bring home manufacturing that had moved to low cost producers abroad.
“With competitive energy prices and secure supplies, we could give a major boost to manufacturing here,” said Mr Pedder.
“The UK must not miss this window of opportunity through excessive dithering about whether to go for new nuclear plants or shale gas extraction or through other political actions or utterances which deter much needed new investment in competitive generating capacity.
“Failure to indicate a cross-party determination to find a route to ensuring long-term, secure, competitive energy supplies to manufacturers, could render all talk of economic rebalancing as meaningless.
“Let’s not get lost in election-related short-termism.
“Let’s really embed and underpin for the long term the recovery signs we’re now beginning to see,” Mr Pedder urged.
Mr Pedder predicted a bright future for manufacturing if politicians acted on energy and improving Britain’s infrastructure.
“I cannot recall a time when there seem to be so many really exciting new developments afoot in manufacturing,” said Mr Pedder, citing advances in robotics, 3D printing, materials, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine and electricity storage as examples.
“Exploitation of all these developments will require the most agile minds, the most practical manufacturing innovators and some really stretching cross-disciplinary thinking.
“We have all those ingredients here in Hallamshire with innovative companies and two great universities.”