Frazer Durris, managing director at Businesswise Solutions, gives us an overview of the Conservatives’, Labour’s and Liberal Democrats’ plans for energy policy in the next parliament and assesses how this could affect businesses in the hospitality industry.
With just a few weeks to go until the general election, political parties have released their election manifestos detailing their plans for the future of the UK if they were to be elected. Frazer Durris, managing director at Businesswise Solutions, gives us an overview of the three key players’ plans for energy policy in the next parliament and assesses how this could affect businesses in the hospitality industry.
The Conservative manifesto is very lightweight in regards to this area; Theresa May is planning to wait until Britain has exited the EU before issuing a new energy policy. This will prolong the uncertainty that businesses have experienced in terms of their long-term energy bills and leaves quite lot of unanswered questions in terms of the strategic path that the Conservatives will take.
The Conservatives say they will commission an independent review into energy costs and act upon the recommendations to keep energy bills as low as possible but there is no immediate timeframe a to when this will happen. Labour, in contrast, plan to introduce an emergency price-cap to keep the average dual-fuel household bills below £1,000 a year but don’t say how they would help businesses.
The Liberal Democrats say they would reduce energy costs by supporting local community energy schemes. Again, this may help domestic energy users but details of how businesses would benefit are thin on the ground.
An ever-increasing energy source for businesses, backing renewable energy is another area where the Conservatives are lacking. They don’t plan to support any more large-scale onshore wind farms in England, instead favouring sites on remote Scottish islands. They are also the only major party throwing their weight behind fracking, making it a key policy in their manifesto and highlighting that it will play a huge part of the future energy mix if they come to power.
In contrast, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are being ambitious in their renewable targets. Labour want 60% of the UK’s energy to come from zero-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 while the Liberal Democrats have the same timeframe in place for 60% of the UK’s electricity to come from renewables. They also both plan to invest in new renewable energy projects - good news for businesses who realise the role renewable forms of energy could play in reducing bills.
Despite our exit from the EU, Labour and the Conservatives have stated a preference to remain members of Euratom, the pan-European atomic energy regulator. They are also both supporters of nuclear energy, as are the Liberal Democrats, but they won’t use public money to fund new power stations.
With the UK facing potential energy shortages in the future, nuclear energy has to be considered as a potential option for businesses and so all parties are keeping their options open with these proposed policies.
The three main parties are united in their belief that post-Brexit the UK should maintain the high environmental standards we are currently governed by. Environmental responsibility is also an area that, despite lightweight energy policies in other areas, the Conservatives are keen to be seen to be doing something in. They plan to launch an industrial energy efficiency scheme which will implement efficiency measures for large businesses.
What is the future?
A general election, combined with the full impact of Brexit yet to be felt, has the potential to launch the country into a period of change and uncertainty. This means that, as has been the case for some time now, the energy markets will be unstable and volatile, with potential for continued price increases, making it important for businesses to implement an energy strategy and plan for the long-term.