By Our City Correspondent
Part of the job description for Fiona Woolf – an expat Scot and only the second woman in 800 years to hold the post as Lord Mayor of the City of London – is to ‘support and promote the ‘City’ as a world-leading financial and business hub, with outward and inward business delegations, high-profile civic events, research-driven policies and a long-term approach”.
But as a successful energy lawyer, she also has an unofficial role as an ambassador for the energy sector in Scotland and the UK – and when she travel overseas, she does so with the status of UK Cabinet Minister.
Alderman Fiona Woolf, The Right Honourable, the Lord Mayor of the City of London – who was born and brought up in Edinburgh – was most recently in Scotland on official business in February to promote and strengthen ties between the City of London and Scotland’s financial services industry.
Whilst visiting Aberdeen, law firm CMS Cameron McKenna – in which she is a partner – hosted a reception in the city for the oil and gas sector and she also met with John Swinney, MSP, Finance Secretary in the Scottish Government.
The Lord Mayor said; “It is very clear to me that the North Sea oil and gas industry wants fiscal stability and is quite fed up with the number of changes in taxation.
“A stable fiscal regime is an invaluable building block on which to encourage investment in any sector, and oil and gas exploration and drilling is no different.”
Maintaining the strength and reputation of the City of London is a key part of her role as Lord Mayor but given her professional background in the energy sector, she is also very much aware of the potential of the UK renewables industry, as well as research, development and investment in the supply chains of both renewables and oil and gas.
“I am very happy to promote our energy industries whenever and wherever I can as part of my job in promoting financial services in the City of London – and other UK financial powerhouses, such as Edinburgh – as the two of are often interlinked and co-dependent.
Taking time out of her busy schedule – the Lord Mayor makes an average of three speeches a day – to speak exclusively to Scottish Energy News – she also noted that increasing investment in international subsea interconnectors will help create a single market for energy in the EU and will at the same time also help Scots generators sell their electricity into a wider market.
“The EU first started introducing Directives on cross-border electricity markets in the early 1990s. It’s taken a long time for these to work through into infrastructure investment – and it’s still a work in progress – but cross-border trading will encourage competition and will help keep prices down.”
The Lord Mayor also sees energy-efficiency measure in the built environment as another major ‘work in progress’ for the future – ‘we’re barely scratching the surface of the volume of work that needs to done in improving energy-efficiency,” she said.
“There is no country in the world that is immune from the energy ‘trilemma’ – security of supply, de-carbonisation and energy prices but we are particularly fortunate to have so many resources, skills and expertise in so many energy markets – oil, gas and renewables.”
Immediately prior to taking up the post of Lord Mayor, Fiona was working with on a World Bank project in West Africa to bring in a transmission line and to create a regional market in electricity in the Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea.
“We all take our electricity for granted at the flick of a switch in the UK, but when you’re importing 90% of your energy from another country – like Taiwan – or only being able to supply 10% of the population with electricity about 25% of the time, as in West Africa – it really emphasises the importance of managing the trilemma.”
The Lord Mayor is elected for one year and the position is apolitical. She spends some 90 days abroad leading delegations to key fast-growing markets and addresses some 10,000 people face-to-face each month (making around 800 speeches a year). The Lord Mayor listens to City and UK businesses and helps the City Corporation advise the Government of the day on what is needed to help the UK-based financial, professional, and business services sector to function well.
As Lord Mayor, Fiona meets one head of state a month and will meet a prime minister or finance minister each week to discuss City and UK business, often in conjunction with senior City business representatives. Unpaid, she lives in the Mansion House, for the Mayoral year.
But she added: “Scotland is still very much home for me – even though we sold the family home in Edinburgh when my mother passed over a few years back. And whenever I return to Edinburgh, I regularly meet up with old school friends from St. Denis’ and Cranley”.