Utility Week

UTILITY Week 26th June 2015

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10 | 26TH JUNE - 2ND JULY 2015 | UTILITY WEEK Lobby Election / Party conferences T he new MPs who will lead scrutiny of government energy and environment policy emerged on 18 June, offering the energy and water industry clues about how policy may be moulded over the coming five years. The Energy and Climate Change Com- mittee will be chaired by the SNP, which may opt to use the position as a platform to increase the profile of Scottish energy con- cerns in Westminster, effectively replacing the Liberal Democrats as the "second oppo- sition" behind Labour. Speculation swirled around who would step into the role aer long-term SNP energy spokesman Mike Weir took up the position of chief whip for the party. Ultimately, Angus MacNeil secured the party nomination and ran uncontested to clinch the top spot. By contrast, in the Environmental Audit Committee the competition was tight, with a three-horse race between MPs highly experienced in environmental policy. Huw Irranca-Davies came out on top ahead of for- mer ECCC members Barry Gardiner and Alan Whitehead. He replaces former Labour MP Joan Walley and will no doubt use his clout to drive forward careful scrutiny of the gov- ernment's environmental policies. Of course, an effective committee is more than just a chair. The remainder of the mem- bers will be nominated by the house "in the coming weeks", according to the House of Commons. Meanwhile, Neil Parish, an alumni of the Defra committee, takes over from popular chair Anne McIntosh. Watching brief The chairs of the influential environment and climate change committees have been decided, and utilities will get to know them well over the next five years, says Jillian Ambrose. Policy & Regulation In the hotseat: Environmental Audit Huw Irranca-Davies (Lab) "[It is a] big year - and big parliament - ahead for the environment and sus- tainability." Energy and Climate Change Angus MacNeil (SNP) "I look forward to working with the other members of the ECCC once they have been appointed to scrutinise the work of Decc." Key committee concerns: - Subsidising renewables - Reforming transmission charges - The CMA fallout What we know: MacNeil stood for the chair position uncontested and has little back- ground in energy and environment. However, unlike many of the current crop of SNP MPs, he is a Westmin- ster veteran, likely to have greater gravitas in a committee setting and establish cross-party consensus. He was first elected as MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Westerm Isles) in 2005 aer a career as a journalist with the BBC. What we can expect: Although MacNeil has limited en- ergy experience, his party has clear views, including strong support for renewables and opposition to shale and new nuclear. In addition, he may take the opportunity to shine a light on transmission charging, a key SNP concern which recently led to the closure of Scottish Power's Longannet coal-fired power plant. Key committee concerns: - The environmental risks of frack- ing - The cost of energy subsidies - Carbon budgets and decarbonisa- tion targets What we know: Irranca-Davies beat out stiff com- petition from Labour colleagues Barry Gardiner and Alan Whitehead to take the top spot. But Irranca- Davies also wields significant clout. He took the decision to step down from the Labour frontbench earlier this year aer five consecutive years as an opposition minister. Most recently he served as a shad- ow Defra minister from 2011-15, following his 2010-11 tenure on the shadow Decc team, aer his move from shadow marine and natural environment minister earlier that same year. What we can expect: The energy industry should be braced for some difficult questions on shale. Irranca-Davies was one of the more vocal critics of the bur- geoning shale industry in mid-2011, calling for a moratorium on any activity. In 2013 his criticism contin- ued with a Twitter blast in which he questioned whether the Tory "shale gas love-in" was linked to vested Utility Week Lobby produced in partnership with:

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