UK government passes energy policy power to new commission

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There is some confusion as to the role of the department of energy and climate change following a reorganisation announced by the UK’s chancellor for the exchequer George Osborne this week.

The entire energy policy brief has been ceded by DECC to the new National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
George Osborne
With the energy portfolio has gone all the big issues on its agenda. These include the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, indeed the entire future of the UK nuclear power programme.

It is not entirely clear what DECC, headed by secretary of state Amber Rudd, will now hold responsibility for, following the announcement.

Mr Osborne announced the NIC at the Conservative party conference on Monday describing it as "A Commission, set up in law, free from party arguments, which works out, calmly and dispassionately, what the country needs to build for its future, and holds any Government's feet to the fire if it fails to deliver ... Like how we are going to make sure Britain has the energy supplies it needs ...

"I've asked the new National Infrastructure Commission to start its work today. And I am delighted that the former Labour Cabinet Minister and Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis has agreed to be the Commission's first Chair."

As a result of the restructure it appears that DECC is largely a shell department with responsibility for climate change policy. The relationship between the NIC and DECC is not yet clear.

Power Engineering International asked for more detail on the newly defined roles for both offices and a press spokesperson for the NIC said, "the Commission will be charged with offering unbiased analysis of the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs. The Treasury will consult shortly on the terms of reference for the NIC and how it will advise government and go about its work."

In response to a final query from PEi as to whether DECC would still procatively formulate energy policy, the spokesperson would only say, "The Commission will provide objective analysis and an independent view on infrastructure needs, but Government has the final say on policy and what gets built."

The NIC will be headed up by Lord Adonis. In a statement he said, "without big improvements to its transport and energy systems, Britain will grind to a halt. I look forward to establishing the National Infrastructure Commission as an independent body able to advise government and Parliament on priorities. Major infrastructure projects like Crossrail and major new power stations span governments and parliaments. I hope it will be possible to forge a wide measure of agreement, across society and politics, on key infrastructure requirements for the next 20 to 30 years and the assessments which have underpinned them."

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