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East Anglia: Insulation firms warn of job losses

17:40 12 November 2012

Mark Pendlington, New Anglia LEP

Mark Pendlington, New Anglia LEP's Green Economy Pathfinder chairman

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FIRMS have raised fears that jobs will be lost in the East of England as a result of Government energy policy and a lack of “transition planning” as energy subsidy schemes run out.

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The Insulation Energy Forum (IIF) has warned that 1,385 jobs in the insulation industry are under threat in the East of England in 2013 when current Government energy incentives end.

Meanwhile, British Chambers of Commerce has carried out a business survey of 3,500 firms which show that energy security issues are becoming a major concern for businesses, with many worried about their future energy supplies.

The IIF claims that a gap exists between incentives for loft, cavity wall and solid wall insulation and the new ones on offer.

The Government is introducing its flagship Green Deal energy efficiency programme and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) but the IIF claims the gap before it becomes fully functional will “seriously impact” continuity of work.

It claims 16,000 jobs across the UK, primarily in the loft and cavity installation and distribution sectors, are expected to go between now and the end of 2013.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) survey found that 90% of firms believe the UK requires a diverse energy mix to avoid future supply problems, but that more than 60% are unaware of the Government’s Green Deal.

Of those that are aware, 30% are sceptical that the savings Government anticipates will actually be achieved.

Nearly 40% of firms felt rising costs had adversely affected growth. The study said the UK should follow the example of countries such as Germany and offer more substantial relief to energy-intensive industries most affected by government policies.

New Anglia Green Economy Pathfinder chairman Mark Pendlington said Government energy policies “must deliver” for all business.

“With 63% of businesses saying they are motivated to reduce their energy usage by environmental concerns, it shows that the low carbon sector, of which New Anglia is the champion, has a fundamental role to play in the future provision in the UK,” he said.

“An effective transition to a sustainable economy will boost economic recovery, it will create jobs increase resource security and help make the UK more globally competitive.”

A Department of Energy & Climate Change spokesman said the Green Deal, would “deliver the best deal for Britain and for consumers, cutting energy waste and helping get us off the hook of relying on imported oil and gas by creating a greener, cleaner and more secure mix of electricity sources right here in the UK”.

“This is a time of transition but we have taken steps to support the sector, for example by funding re-training. And looking at the whole picture, there will actually be more jobs in the insulation sector under Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) than there are now.

“We expect the number of jobs in the insulation industry to increase from 26,000 in 2012 to up to 60,000 in 2015.

“We are committed to tackling fuel poverty and an Independent Review showed that our policies, from Warm Front to the Warm Home Discount, are helping to reduce the scale of the problem. ECO is expected to help 230,000 low income vulnerable households a year through the installation of energy efficiency measures.”

“Our plans to boost energy efficiency in the UK and nurture a more balanced energy portfolio, including a new generation of power sources such as renewables, new nuclear, and carbon capture and storage, will bring new jobs and create new expertise in the UK workforce,” he said.

Suffolk green energy entrepreneur Steve Sharratt, Chief Executive of Bio Group, which designed, built and who operate the Adnams Bio Energy renewable energy plant in Southwold said the Chamber survey was “an important piece of research”.

“This work from the Chambers means that Government must think carefully about the benefits of long term investment and growth in energy provision versus the immediate but transitory nature of a controversial headline, of which we have seen too many of late.” Steve Sharratt continued. “We have to grow the economy sustainably, not damage it further,” he said.

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