Brexit, it’s the buzz word that we can’t escape from at the moment. In some respects EU politics has always been mystifying to most of us in the UK. Maybe it’s because of our history and the fact that we are, after all, an island nation.
If Britain does elect to leave the EU we could see changes to many regulated industries. For renewables in particular, the Brexit could signal the death knoll for the UK’s commitment to sustainable energy.
Sustainable energy firms like Yorkshire Heat Pumps, believe customer incentives like the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will come under threat if Britain votes to leave Europe.
While the government is committed to the RHI up to 2021, it is due for reform in 2017 and there is already plenty of uncertainty over what will actually happen to it.
Michael Wright from Yorkshire Heat Pumps said: “Stay in the EU and renewables have some protection as the UK is signed up to policies to deliver 15% of the UK’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020 and reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. Leave the EU and a layer of accountability for the future of our planet could disappear overnight.
“If we fail to meet our carbon reduction responsibilities, we face massive fines from Europe. This is obviously a strong argument in favour of keeping the RHI scheme, under which many homeowners and businesses can expect to recoup the cost of switching to a renewable energy heating system in just a few years.
“If RHI goes then so does a major incentive for our customers to invest in green technologies and, with it, a more sustainable future for everyone.”
What would happen to the Energy Related Product directive? Many installers feel it is unnecessary and confusing in this country. It’s highly likely that it would be scrapped as boiler manufacturers must already adhere to strict rules on efficiency put in place by UK regulators. Would we simply go back to the way things were?
While most of the public attention is on issues of immigration and trade, as well as the widely reported 8.5 billion pounds saved on EU tax, there are many EU regulations within the building services, construction and energy industries.
One leading pro-Brexit voice has been the owner of JCB, Lord Anthony Bamford (a major donor to the Conservative party).
According to Bamford, Brexit could cut down on red tape for British business. ‘We are the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. We could exist on our own – peacefully and sensibly.’
JCB is seen as a lone voice within the wider manufacturing sector. In September 2014, 85% of EEF members from the UK manufacturing trade association voted for continued EU membership, with only 7% voting to leave. Uncertainty around EU membership remains the biggest risk for the manufacturing sector.
The Guardian’s Patrick Collinson says in his excellent article:
“The mundane reality is that a Brexit is likely to result in either a small net economic benefit or a small net economic loss. Nobody can know for sure which outcome we’ll see. But the least likely outcome is economic catastrophe if we leave, or if we remain.
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On the 23rd June 2016 Britain goes to the polls to answer the question: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Make sure your voice is heard in this crucial vote.