Northern Energy Taskforce calls for greater autonomy to kick off 'local energy revolution'

Report outlines a range of measures to ensure the North leads UK on the low-carbon agenda

The Northern Energy Taskforce has called for the formation of a long-term Northern Energy Compact to help the become the UK’s leader in decarbonisation.

The suggestion is one of a range of radical measure outlined in the taskforce’s Northern Energy Strategy, released today following 15 months of consultation and evidence gathering.

The taskforce, which includes Northern Powergrid and Northern Gas Networks as well as Big Four auditor KMPG, also recommended the brokering of local energy devolution deals to kickstart “a local energy revolution” and address the increasing instances of fuel poverty in the north.

The compact, negotiated with central government, Ofgem and the Committee on Climate Change, would include a carbon budget specifically for the north and increased flexibilities for the region within national regulatory and policy frameworks.

Among other recommendations in the report was the creation of a Northern Energy Accelerator to develop and drive early-stage innovation in the industry. 

The taskforce’s chair Sir John Harman said in the report’s forward: “Too many opportunities have already gone begging due to policy uncertainty and many other opportunities are best unlocked through more local decision-making. This is why we have put energy devolution at the heart of our plans.

“A Northern Energy Compact would ultimately provide a framework for investment that can respond more flexibly to regional opportunities; and Local Energy Devolution Deals are designed to unlock a local energy revolution and tackle fuel poverty.”

Richard Evans, north Energy sector lead at KPMG and a taskforce member, added: “Innovation is critical to the economic boost the North stands to gain from a reinvigorated and low carbon energy economy. While national policy is vital to facilitating this, there is so much regional bodies and businesses can deliver, especially if they benefit from the energy devolution and sub national institutional capacity recommended in this strategy.

“As the government looks to a modern industrial strategy, with energy as one of the key pillars, for economic growth and productivity improvement, the Northern Energy Taskforce offers a strategy for the sector that provides a route for the North to drive forward its distinctive economic priorities and play to its strengths.”

Patrick Erwin, Northern Powergrid’s Policy and Markets Director, said: “The transition to smart, cost-effective, low-carbon energy offers huge opportunities for the country’s economy and improving people’s lives; the North is well-placed to be at the vanguard of this change.

“The taskforce recommendations will stimulate debate about our energy future at a practical, regulatory and political level and help move the industry forward. Government and industry need to work together to actively manage this transition to ensure that all society benefits from the energy revolution.”

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