There were no real surprises in this morning's Queen's Speech but some interesting inclusions/omissions that are likely to affect the UK AD industry over the coming years.
What was mentioned:
- Brexit – Fairly unsurprisingly, securing “the best possible deal” as the UK leaves the EU topped the speech as the Government's #1 priority. The Government wants to build the “widest possible consensus” on the UK's future outside the EU and wants to “make a success of Brexit”. There was confirmation of a bill to repeal the European Communities Act, which will put all existing EU legislation into UK law. Any changes to existing EU regulations, such as waste/recycling and renewable energy targets, could have a significant impact on AD.
- Replacement of the CAP – No real detail was given on this, other than that the Government will be legislating for a 'new national policy' on agriculture. What this policy looks like and how it operates will be critical to the survival of UK farming, and AD can of course play a huge role in supporting farmers as CAP support is withdrawn.
- Exports and trade – The Government pledged that “support will be given to help British businesses export to markets around the world”. With the global biogas industry worth a potential £1trn, there's a huge opportunity for UK expertise in AD and biogas to be exported around the world, helping to restore the UK's balance of payments.
- Industrial strategy – There was reiteration of the Government's intended modern industrial strategy, designed to “spread prosperity across the country”. We'll be continuing to make the case for AD to be a key part of bespoke sector deals in agri-tech and the bioeconomy as part of this.
- Climate change – The speech reiterated the Government's intention to “continue to support international action against climate change, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement”, critical given the recent US pullout from the deal. While this statement is welcome, the acid test for the Government's real commitment to decarbonisation will be in the policies it pursues across all sectors and departments.
What wasn't mentioned:
- Energy – There was no mention of energy policy apart from an intention to bring down consumers' energy bills. There was no expectation that the speech would refer to specific measures such as the RHI (for which the passing of the delayed legislation is crucial for the AD industry in the short term), but it was striking that there was no mention of the Government's priorities for energy supply. Long-term strategies for heat and transport (particularly HGVs) are currently lacking, and are two areas where AD can make a key contribution.
- Waste/recycling – It would be quite unusual for a Queen's Speech to refer to specific waste management or recycling policies but failing to talk about the circular economy and more efficient resource use generally was a wasted opportunity (no pun intended).
As with all policy measures, the devil will be in the detail in terms of what the new Government's legislative plans will mean for the AD industry. We'll continue to work with our members to ensure that the Government recognises the multiple benefits of AD and reflects this in their policies over the coming Parliament.
We'll also be talking about what the new Government and Brexit mean for AD at UK AD & Biogas and World Biogas Expo 2017, taking place 5-6 July at the NEC in Birmingham – be sure to come along to get the latest political and policy insight on the future of AD.
Chris Noyce, ADBA PR & Parliamentary Affairs Excecutive – 020 3176 5441 / firstname.lastname@example.org