Britain at risk of energy crisis, engineers warn

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The Independent Online

Britain's competitiveness and future security will come under threat if the Government fails to act on energy policy, the Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) will warn today.

The UK faces an unprecedented combination of energy challenges over the next decade and needs to invest billions of pounds in infrastructure, manage the risks associated with growing dependence on imported gas and meet renewable energy targets, the employment body says.

Accepting that public money is unlikely to be forthcoming for what it describes as some of the most "ambitious and costly" targets in the world, the EEF will urge ministers to act to ensure planning permission and tax regimes facilitate private investment.

"Government needs to demonstrate leadership in this critical area and we need to act fast," said Steve Radley, the EEF's director of policy.

"The time needed to secure finance, mobilise supply chains and deliver infrastructure means the energy industry will start making far-reaching and long-lasting investment decisions within the next couple of years. The size and urgency of the challenge means that a clear energy strategy needs to be developed quickly. By refocusing policy on energy security and cost-effectiveness, the Government can also ensure that environmental objectives are met without compromising the interests of consumers."

The association has launched an "Energy Action Plan", which it says is a blueprint for attracting as much as £200bn needed to meet the Government's goals, and safeguard the interests of consumers.

The plan urges the coaltion to keep to an existing timetable encouraging a greater reliance on nuclear power, and ensuring that Britain increases its gas storage capacity. "The Government must address the growing risk to the security of supply from the UK's increasing dependence on imported gas," the plan says.

"Currently, the UK has only 16 days of storage compared to 99 in Germany and 122 in France. As such, Government should introduce a supplier obligation or similar measure by 2012, which would provide an early incentive to invest in storage facilities."

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