Lords warn that Brexit poses higher risk of energy black-outs in Britain

The House of Lords has warned that there is a higher risk of energy black-outs in Britain in a ‘hard’ Brexit when it leaves the EU bloc.

The Lords’ Energy and Environment committee also warns that that Brexit will put the UK’s current frictionless trade in energy with the EU at risk.

The committee calls on Government to set out how it will work with the EU to anticipate and manage supply shortages, and to assess what impact leaving the Internal Energy Market would have on the price paid by consumers for their energy.

The Committee also heard that the UK’s ability to build future nuclear generation sites, including Hinkley Point C, is in doubt if access to specialist EU workers is curtailed, and that failure to replace the provisions of the Euratom Treaty by the time the UK leaves the EU could result in the UK being unable to import nuclear materials.

The report concludes that, post-Brexit, the UK may be more vulnerable to energy shortages in the event of extreme weather or unplanned generation outages, and asks the Government to set out how it will work with the EU to anticipate and manage such conditions.

Commenting on the House of Lords EU Energy & Environment committee’s report, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:

“The UK’s civil nuclear industry welcomes the conclusions of the committee’s report. They recognise the scale of the challenge in replacing Euratom arrangements, and the need for a pragmatic and flexible approach if a cliff-edge exit is to be avoided.

“As the report acknowledges, the government has finally begun to appreciate the complexity involved in Euratom arrangements, and the practical difficulties in replicating the rules, in its negotiating stance.

“The report is also correct to highlight the legal distinction between Euratom and European treaties, and to highlight the opportunity for a specific transitional arrangement, enabling continuity until an equivalent domestic regime is in place.

“We also support the report’s call for continued engagement with research programmes alongside Euratom countries, particularly with relation to the JET and ITER projects, and the need to secure the unhindered movement of highly skilled workers between the UK and other states.

“There is much for the government yet to negotiate, and we agree with the committee’s recommendation that there should be continued engagement with industry to protect against unintended consequences.”

30 Jan 2018

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