The North of England’s green economy is under threat from a hard Brexit, think tank IPPR North has warned in a new study.
This morning IPPR North reported its findings from ‘The Impact of Brexit on Energy in the North of England’ study, which concluded that a full withdrawal from Euratom, energy trade being left in the lurch with no formal agreement, and the UK’s withdrawal from participation in European energy research programmes such as Horizon 2020 would pose a significant threat to the green economy.
The report also claimed to uncover new information, including the revelation that the North of England receives 45% of the UK’s share of EU-originated renewable energy research funding, meaning the region would be unduly hit if it was to be withdrawn.
The UK’s potential departure from Euratom has also proven to be the source of much controversy, not least because the UK’s current energy strategy relies heavily on new nuclear power.
IPPR North has said that withdrawing from Euratom would leave the UK needing to develop a “highly complex new regulatory system” on top of international agreements pertaining to nuclear fusion, radioactive waste and the supply/distribution of nuclear materials.
This would also be further complicated by the ending of free movement for European nationals, which could cause skilled nuclear scientists to leave the UK to work elsewhere.
IPPR North concluded that in the absence of a “radical and significant overhaul of government intervention” required to replace roles which the current EU system maintains, the risks associated with a hard Brexit threaten to be unsafe for the industry, and could also derail emission reduction obligations and energy security.
"On energy alone, the government's industrial strategy will need to go from being a mere summary of current policy interventions undertaken by the government in the economy, to one of the most detailed and interventionist plans for a modern economy in the world, if it is to replace Euratom and the decades’ worth of expertise and programmes developed through pan-European co-operation,” Ed Cox, director at IPPR North, said.
“As the government has repeatedly said, leaving the EU does not mean leaving Europe, and if [it] looks as though Brexiteers can’t deliver on their promises, we must continue to have the closest possible relationship with our nearest neighbours on energy,” he added.
IPPR North’s sentiments echo those from other organisations that have expressed concern over the UK’s apparent attitude to energy matters and Brexit, including both the Energy Institute and Green Alliance.