Region’s businesses provide energy input

BUSINESSES from across the North East have been consulted on the region’s approach to low carbon initiatives at an event held by the North East’s leading business organisation.

The North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) held its Energy Policy Conference at the Quality Hotel in Boldon on September 15, at which businesses were asked for their input on NECC’s second Energy Policy Report.

NECC members and other regional organisations were given the opportunity to feed back to the Energy Policy Working Group, who will incorporate this into the final report, due to be published in December.

Last year’s report, ‘Generating Growth’, focused on the North East’s capacity for electricity generation. In contrast, the 2010 report is a private sector analysis of the challenges and opportunities presenting themselves to businesses as consumers of energy.

The conference was opened by NECC’s Chief Executive, James Ramsbotham. He said: “We feel that the North East has incredible potential in the field of low carbon technology, but we need to explore these opportunities from the position of consumers as well as producers.

“Holding an event like today’s allows us to gather information from our members, which we will then use to form an energy strategy for North East businesses. We will use the findings from our consultations to strengthen the case for the North East as a low carbon innovation centre at the forthcoming political party conferences.”

Attendees at the conference also heard from Jon Bird of CE Electric, Dean Harris of KPMG, Professor Dermot Roddy of the Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy, and Jon Foot from EDF Energy. Delegates heard about the issues surrounding the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment and new research into the habits of energy use by businesses and the wider public.

Charles Reynard, Chair of the Energy Policy Working Group, gave the keynote speech for the conference. He said: “When we look at the low carbon agenda, it’s clear to see that the region has an embarrassment of riches to offer the rest of the UK.

“NECC is engaging heavily with its members in order to secure current, relevant feedback for its ongoing energy policy. This input is vital if we want the North East to speak with a unified voice on low carbon issues.”

The panel fielded questions from the floor, tackling queries on employee engagement, political lobbying, the speed of adaptation to new technologies, and carbon capture and storage.

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