DECC’s busiest time in years; the dust settles

Following a raft of announcements, DECC has been rejigging the UK’s low carbon stance. Where are we now?

A glance across DECC’s web pages shows just how busy the Department has been. Few changes seem positive for low carbon, or the Conservative sense of what’s green.

Budget danger

DECC’s first hint at its new ideals came in Amber Rudd’s Emergency Budget response. Here, she laid the seeds for DECC’s agenda: one that places free markets and value for money first.

Then, concrete announcements began to come. The news that onshore wind subsidies were for the chop had already fallen on June 18, 2015. But after Ms Rudd outlined DECC’s priorities to the Energy and Climate Change Committee, more words followed.

On July 22, 2015, measures were laid out which removed much of the subsidy available for low carbon generation. Details on the precise future of the Levy Control Framework (LCF) are still to come.

The very next day, DECC revealed it was axing the Green Deal Finance Company in its entirety. The Green Deal has arguably been unsuccessful, but its removal came as another tough blow to a sector already reeling.

In addition to all this, DECC is in strife internally. Red tape reduction measures and hints at Department-wide staff cuts all make for a period of unprecedented change.

Green lobby response

Reaction to DECC’s moves has been predictably sour from the Green lobby. Alasdair Cameron, from Friends of the Earth, says the Government is planning an all-out assault on the Green Economy.

Greenpeace goes further, asking why the ‘party of business’ is doing everything they can to damage the main growth industries of the 21st century.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Green MP Caroline Lucas accused Mr Cameron of taking a ‘wrecking ball’ to the green sector.

And, as this article was being completed, the business side response came. Veolia Executive Vice President Estelle Brachlianoff argues that the government’s U-turn on renewable energy risks sending this country back to the dark ages of relying only on fossil fuel.

What to do next?

How should UK firms move on all this?

The first watchword is calm. Lobbying to DECC is still possible. Decisions can be changed, altered and rejigged.

Much consultation on green taxation and business efficiency is still to come. The green lobby is understandably worried, but it may be DECC has some positive cards in hand.

Amber Rudd could play these when consultation reveals exactly where UK green business needs her support. Her words, if not her actions thus far, are still comprehensively in favour of a competitive, growing green sector.

For example, energy efficiency is her top priority. What moves might she make to hike takeup in this area?

DECC’s first hand has been poor for low carbon. But history shows businesses which work with policymakers are the most successful.

Hard work, fact-driven lobbying and delivering responses to the Conservative’s consultations must now be the key. Panic, harsh words and fear achieve little.

If Amber Rudd receives a clarion call from UK firms answering her consultations, her democratic mandate states she must listen.

This is the next key step. All DECC’s consultation documents are online here.

This is the place where UK businesses must make their voice heard. Now is the time to do so.

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