For many businesses, lack of certainty over the Brexit outcome is having a very real effect right now on decision making, investment and jobs.
Already direct inward investment into the UK has virtually vanished since the Brexit referendum result.
And as MPs finally get their chance today to debate the Brexit Bill – more than 18 months since the British Independence Referendum – the SNP has said a ‘no deal’ scenario following Brexit negotiations must be ‘off the table’.
And UK and EU business leaders yesterday told Prime Minister Theresa May of their Brexit concerns at a meeting in Downing Street, with representatives from groups including the CBI and Business Europe pressing for a transitional deal that preserves the UK status quo after Brexit.
Stephen Gethins, MP, the SNP Foreign Affairs spokesman in the Westminster parliament, said: “The SNP has put forward an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill – a reset amendment- which would ensure that the UK can remain in the EU.
“We must ensure the best possible outcome. We know there is concern across all parties about this Brexit Bill, and the government knows it will have to compromise.
“I call on all parties to back this SNP reset amendment to ensure we have a safety net should negotiations fail.”
And if the Brexit negotiations are not resolved at all – the UK leaves the EU on 1 April 2019 when more than 40 years of EU law will be jettisoned overnight if the current British government does not its Brexit Bill passed by the Westminster parliament.
So the renewables sector – which now generates over half of Scotland’s electricity – urgently requires clarity on:
- People – being able to attract and retain the right staff
- Profit – being able to minimise extra cost burdens and to maximise income
- Practicalities – being able to do business with certainty and a minimum of obstacles
- Possibilities – being able to avoid missing out as the single market grows
For example, Energy UK – which represents SSE, Scottish Power and other Big Six utilities – wants to remain within the European Emissions Trading System.
Major German, Dutch and Spanish manufacturers may find it harder to sell their turbines into the UK after Brexit.
Atlantis Resources – a global developer of renewable energy projects with headquarters in Edinburgh – is also concerned about the state of the industry after Brexit.
Atlantis’s flagship tidal power project – MeyGen – is situated in the Inner Sound of Scotland’s Pentland Firth and is the world’s largest tidal stream array.
Nova Innovation, another Edinburgh-based tidal energy company has said that access to EU markets, supply chain and free movement of people, will have an impact on future success.
The European Union is an important source of financing for renewable projects, particularly tidal stream. Atlantis has been awarded both Horizon 2020 and NER300 funding from the European Commission as well as received offers of support from the European Investment Bank for future phases of their flagship MeyGen project.
They believe that should the UK remain in the EU single market they will be extremely well positioned to continue this success and benefit from future rounds of EU funding.
Ease of movement and access to markets are as critical as access to EU funding.
Atlantis has strategic partners in Belgium and France as well as suppliers across Europe, and employs a number of EU nationals who are technical experts in marine technology and whose skills and experience would be difficult to replace.
There are different views as to what is best for Scottish and and UK companies. But what must be clear to everyone is that because of Brexit, many choices have to be made, such as:
- How best to prepare my company
- Whether to cut back, invest or relocate; and, crucially,
- What the renewables industry should negotiate for, both on the transition and beyond, with the Scottish and UK governments
The aim of this crucial Renewables After Brexit conference is to look at the key issues from the point of view of businesses in tackling the ‘Brexit trilemma’ of law, policy and the environment.
- Jorge Vasconcelos, Council of Europe Energy Regulators and EU Energy Roadmap 2050 Advisory Group
- Munir Hassan, Head of Clean Energy, CMS Cameron McKenna; (“Practical steps and considerations for renewables projects and investors in preparing for Brexit”)
- John Campbell, QC
- Dave Pearson, Director, Star Renewable Energy
- Mark Sommerfeld, Policy Analyst, UK Renewable Energy Association
- Graham Provest, Managing Director, Absolute Solar and Wind Energy
- Ian Dunsmore, Scottish Water Horizons
- Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland
- RSPB Scotland
- Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive, Energy UK
Being held on 1 December 2017 at the University of Dundee, the conference is a joint venture between the University’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law & Policy and Scottish Energy News.
For more details, sponsorship opportunities and conference booking details: www.renewablesafterbrexit.co.uk