Firms fret over next steps for energy supply

 
Marion Dakers
BUSINESSES are increasingly worried about the UK’s attempts to bridge a looming energy gap, according to a survey out today.

As the coalition races to secure replacements for ageing nuclear and coal power stations and fuel bills soar, research showed that almost six in 10 large businesses think energy security is becoming a “major concern” for them.

And nearly four in 10 of the 3,500 business asked by the British Chambers of Commerce said that rising fuel costs have already hindered their growth.

Ten per cent of firms have suffered five or more cuts to their energy supply in the last three years, the survey showed.

“No business can succeed unless the UK has energy policies and an energy market that deliver affordability, certainty and security,” said Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC.

“As the government embarks on far reaching reforms, it must also ensure that policy changes do not mean excessive costs for business.”

The coalition is due to publish the latest version of its Energy Bill this month. It hopes to bring in carbon price floors and other incentives for certain low-carbon sources of power, set to include gas, nuclear and renewables.

The proposed shake-up has been beset by delays, uncertainty and fears it will push up households’ and businesses’ bills, however.

Fifty-six per cent of businesses asked by the BCC think the plans to increase energy efficiency are positive, but there are worries that the plans have already gone through several guises.

“I think it’s telling that concerns our industry has been expressing for many years are prevalent across industry, and this should give the government pause for thought,” said Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group.