Utility Week

Utility Week 30th September 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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Page 10 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 30TH SEPTEMBER - 6TH OCTOBER 2016 | 11 Policy & Regulation Policy & Regulation "We need to harness the natural resources of the sea and coast. As a country, we have forgotten the wealth that living by the coast brings us." Shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell OVERHEARD AT THE CONFERENCE… ● "It's like Little Britain does politics" – a disgruntled union member ● "I was sitting there in my pyjamas watching it unfold on TV in front of me wondering what I was going to do" – Lisa Nandy on the sacking of Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary, an event that led to her resigning from the shadow cabinet ● "There should be a fringe by food listing so you know which events are the best ones to get to." – One disgruntled party member who was dissatisfied with the sandwiches on offer at a lunchtime fringe. ● "I don't want our economy to be like the slow death of a frog in boiling water because of Brexit." – Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie speaking at a CBI fringe event on the prosperity of the UK after Brexit. 1 What role do you see for markets within the whole- sale and retail utility arenas? The market as it currently is gives the huge monopoly-sized companies all the power. That needs to be addressed so there is much more genuine trading. I believe the free market is fine as long as you genuinely believe in the free market, and not just saying you believe in the free market as long as it only benefits the monopoly- sized companies. I think once this has been addressed and corrected, we will then see a free functioning market. We just have to make sure it's not used by those with the advantage of size and power. Barry Gardiner MP, shadow energy secretary 2 How will EU environ- mental and water quality regulations shape post- Brexit regulations in the UK? It is hard to see what the government's plans are. The thing with water quality and safety is that it is critical, so you need to make progress in those sectors. We want to make progress and not go backwards. At the moment the government is talking about marking its own homework in terms of envi- ronmental measures, and we know we need other experts looking in and holding the government to account. Rachael Maskell MP, shadow environment secretary 3 What steps should the government be taking to help protect energy and water customers? If you look at the direction of travel across Europe, the an- swer is not pulling power back in, whether through states or private monopolies. It's about handing real power to custom- ers. The answer is about disrupting the market and creating genuine completion. There is a strong similarity between the energy and water markets in that they have verti- cal integration. Breaking that up is a crucial thing that will make the market genuinely competitive and transparent. Lisa Nandy MP, former shadow energy secretary THREE KEY QUESTIONS From the floor Tom Grimwood Everyone at the Labour party conference was singing from the same hymnsheet, and that prayer was Unity… Following an EU referendum that divided the UK and a leadership contest that split the party, unity was the name of the game at this year's Labour conference. There were few speeches in which it didn't get a mention, and former shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy urged activ- ists to find common ground not only other members of the party, but with allies across the le. There was also plenty of talk about win- ning back the droves of traditional Labour voters who broke with the party in the EU referendum and voted out – those who supposedly felt le behind and detached from decision-making in Westminster and Brussels. Many speakers identified greater devolu- tion as the solution; not just the transfer of power from Westminster to town halls but to the people themselves. It was this grassroots approach which characterised Corbyn's energy manifesto, launched earlier this month. It vowed to help create more than 200 local energy companies and 1,000 community energy co-operatives. Fittingly, Nottingham councillor Steve Battlemuch called for councils to create their own energy companies by whitelabelling its offering, Robin Hood Energy: "Councils can come to Nottingham and link up with us, and make your own energy companies by using our energy and calling it what you like." KEY POINTS Unity – the buzzword at confer- ence, not only for the party, but for the nation in the wake of the EU referendum. Dealing with Brexit – Brexit will happen, and it is now about ensuring the UK gets the best deal possible with access to the single market, or at least significant parts of it, including energy. Helping those worst off – this includes the fuel poor and veterans who are targets for Labour's energy efficiency schemes. Power to the people – encour- aging self-generation or "prosum- erism" in energy and promoting decentralisation. Going green – Labour wants to push ahead with the low-carbon economy and managing water resources at an entire catchment level to reduce the environmental impacts of the UK. Next week Conservative party conference, ICC Birmingham, 2-5 October Utility Week will be at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham and will bring you news and analysis from the event online and in next week's issue.

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