Turbine factory company gives Energy Bill cautious welcome

THE firm planning a £200m turbine factory in East Yorkshire has given a cautious welcome to the Government’s forthcoming Energy Bill amid widespread concern that household fuel costs will rise further over the next decade.

Siemens said yesterday that it welcomed the “broad indications of support” for the green energy sector laid out by the Government, but that it will need to see more details to know precisely how its plans for a factory at Alexandra Dock in Hull would be affected.

Ministers announced late on Thursday night that after months of negotiations between Energy Secretary Ed Davey and Chancellor George Osborne a deal had been struck on how to revive Britain’s ageing energy infrastructure.

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The coalition’s long-awaited Energy Bill will be published in Parliament next week, with energy firms set to be allowed to add £7.6bn to fuel bills by 2020 to help pay for the replacement of Britain’s ageing power stations.

Mr Davey has promised the cost of Government support for low-carbon electricity under the new legislation will add less than £100 to the average household’s annual bill.

But Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at price comparison website uSwitch.com, said any additional price rises will have a detrimental effect on householders already on the brink of an “affordability crisis”. She added: “The fact remains that any additional cost on top of the hikes already seen will be unaffordable for many consumers.”

Government support for low-carbon energy is a hugely important issue in Yorkshire, with the Humber region perfectly placed to benefit from plans for several vast offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

Turbine manufacturers such as Siemens have been waiting to hear confirmation of the Government’s long-term energy plans before signing off their final deals in ports such as Hull.

The German technology giant said it welcomed the broad thrust but more precise detail is still required to give the certainty that investors are looking for. “We look forward to the arrival of the Energy Bill next week and to seeing more of the detail,” a spokeswoman for Siemens said. “We welcome the broad indications of support for the renewables sector as part of a balanced energy mix.”

The firm’s remarks were echoed by Matt Jukes of Associated British Ports (ABP), the company behind the Green Port Hull development which is seeking to bring Siemens to the banks of the Humber.

“Today’s announcement seems to be a signal of support to the renewable energy industry,” Mr Jukes said. “Clearly, the essential detail will be contained within the Energy Bill itself.

“ABP’s plans to develop with Siemens in Hull remain on track and we’re currently drawing to the end of the formal planning and approval process.”

Hull MP Alan Johnson, who on Tuesday criticised Ministers for giving mixed messages about their support for offshore wind, said he was hopeful the Bill would prove to be good news for the city.

“We’ve got to see what the Bill says, talk to Siemens and see what their concerns are – obviously a Bill can be amended,” the Labour MP said. “But hopefully Siemens will accept this as good news, especially if the Bill says everything the speculation says it’s going to say.”

On the other side of the Humber, port owner Able UK yesterday concluded the public examination of its own plans for a renewable energy park at Immingham.

A final decision on whether to grant the Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) planning permission now lies with Whitehall. If it gets the go-ahead, Able is hopeful of attracting a similar turbine factory to the south bank of the Humber.

Able’s group development executive, David Shepherd, said: “The shift towards the low-carbon generation offers a blueprint for economic growth and jobs.

“We must now make sure that we provide the necessary infrastructure to secure these benefits for the UK.

“As of today, AMEP’s planning consent is fully in the hands of the Planning Inspectorate, and then the Secretary of State for Transport. Investors are crying out for it to be given the green light.”