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Utility Week 5th June 2015

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Page 12 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 5TH - 11TH JUNE 2015 | 13 Policy & Regulation Utility Week Lobby produced in partnership with: Energy and Climate Change Committee Alex Salmond, SNP Alex Salmond is a man who needs little introduction. As leader of the SNP during the independ- ence referendum, Salmond proved himself a political force to be reckoned with, while wielding energy policy as a key feature of the SNP's plans for a prosperous Scotland. The SNP's policy under Salmond's leader- ship was heavily in favour of renewable energy, with a desire to be 100 per cent reli- ant on renewables to meet Scottish demand by 2020. However, he was equally keen to exploit Scotland's reserves of gas and oil to bolster the economy. Although the SNP is staunchly anti-nuclear, Salmond reportedly told EDF he was happy for the two nuclear power plants due to close in 2023 to have "life extensions". Salmond's political clout and grasp of energy policy is unquestioned. But indus- try sources have raised doubt over whether, as the SNP's foreign affairs spokesman, his ambitions might now lie elsewhere. In the face of a possible EU Brexit, Salmond may have bigger fish to fry. On the other hand sources have suggested that a high-profile role on energy may prove the perfect vehicle to flex his political muscles while maintain- ing a leadership presence without stepping on the toes of the SNP's new leader, Nicola Sturgeon, as she manages the SNP's head- line concerns. Decision time Nominations for the committee leadership positions open on Wednesday 3 June and are expected to close at 5pm on Wednesday 10 June. The secret ballot of the whole House is scheduled for Wednesday 17 June. THE ENVIRONMENTAL AUDIT COMMITTEE Barry Gardiner, Labour Fellow ECCC col- league Barry Gardiner offers the EAC leader- ship race a broader environmental scope of experience. Gardiner has served as a Labour MP since 1997 and in recent years has played a central role in Labour's plans for the natural environ- ment. In the last Labour government Gardiner held the position of minister for biodiversity within Defra. More recently, in opposition he was Ed Milliband's special envoy for the environ- ment and climate change from 2011 to 2013 before he was appointed shadow minister for the natu- ral environment and fisheries. Gardiner's contribution to the environment was rec- ognised in 2013 when he was awarded the Environmental Parliamentarian of the Year Award. On energy he has largely been sup- portive of measures to prevent climate change, and with his party pushed for an inclusion of a decar- bonisation target. Although he has in the past said shale gas could play a role in the UK generation mix as a "transition fuel", he has cautioned against an overreliance on gas-fired power sta- tions when it comes to meeting carbon targets. But compared with Whitehead, Gar- diner's focus might lie more closely with issues of air pollution after a pre-election campaign alongside shadow London min- ister Sadiq Khan to reduce harmful emis- sions in the capital. Alan Whitehead, Labour Of Labour's three likely candidates for the head of the EAC, Alan Whitehead is arguably the candi- date with the greatest focus on the UK energy industry. Whitehead is not shy about voicing his opinions on energy, and he is well placed to have them. Serving on the Energy And Climate Change Committee, the all-party Parliamen- tary Renewable And Sustainable Energy Group, and already a member of the Environmental Audit Committee, White- head has a breadth of hands-on experience. Should he take the role, it could spell trouble for shale gas developers. White- head was recently instrumental in taking prime minister David Cameron to task over the heavily redacted frack- ing impact report and called on the government to make it public, saying: "You could be forgiven for thinking that the government has something serious to hide about fracking and its impacts." Huw Irranca-Davies, Labour Huw Irranca-Davies took the decision to step down from the Labour frontbench earlier this year after five consecutive years as an opposition minister, a move that may have been made with the intention of filling his time with a top role on the EAC. Irranca-Davies served as a shadow Defra minister from 2011-15, following his 2010-11 tenure on the shadow Decc team, after his move from shadow marine and natural environment minister earlier that same year. Should Irranca-Davies take the lead on the EAC, the energy industry should be braced for some difficult questions on shale development. Irranca-Davies was one of the more vocal critics of the burgeon- ing shale industry in mid-2011, calling for a moratorium on any activity. In 2013 his criti- cism continued with a Twitter blast in which he questioned whether the Tory "shale gas love-in" was linked to vested interests in shale companies. He has nonetheless shown a pragmatic side: "If shale gas, for example, can be part of our transition to a low-carbon future and can provide cheap affordable gas, as it has done in the US, then great."

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