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Offshore Renewable Energy

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 16 September 2010

14. What steps he is taking to increase the level of private sector investment in offshore renewable energy. (15508)

We are committed to support for renewable electricity, through the establishment of a full system of feed-in tariffs—as well as the maintenance of a banded renewables obligation, with the aim of encouraging investment. The development of marine energy parks around the British coast will help promote rapid development of the sector. We are also consulting on a new licensing regime to facilitate the connection of offshore capacity to the national grid.

The Orbis energy centre in Lowestoft is the home of many businesses at the cutting edge of the new technologies that aim to capture the economic benefits of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies. Will the Minister accept my invitation to visit Orbis to see for himself the vital role that those companies can play in the drive towards a low-carbon economy?

My hon. Friend has already established himself as an effective and vocal advocate for those interests in his constituency. I should be delighted to visit his constituency to understand more of the work that is being done, and the pioneering approach of his local businesses.

In the summer, companies from Hartlepool and Teesside joined to form Chain Reaction, a renewable energy supply chain cluster. This is a marvellous opportunity to win business, promote new technologies and ensure that the engineering and industrial base of our heartlands in the north-east have a brilliant future.

Notwithstanding the disappointing response that the Minister, the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), what practical and tangible support can he and his Government give to ensure that Chain Reaction, this private sector enterprise, can thrive and flourish?

One of the things that has impressed me most since I became a Minister is the wealth of activity and expertise in British business right across the country and, indeed, in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency. I repeat my offer to come and visit some of those businesses with him.

Our approach is to say that the Government have to facilitate and put in place the measures that will encourage investment, but one of the most critical things that we can do is bring down the tax and regulatory burdens on British businesses to encourage people to invest and develop their ideas. That is the main focus of the Government.