NE reacts to axed energy department

New prime minister Theresa May  Picture date: Wednesday May, 20, 2015. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
New prime minister Theresa May Picture date: Wednesday May, 20, 2015. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Local politicians have reacted to reshuffled Cabinet; particularly the scrapping of the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

The decision to scrap the department as part of new Prime Minister Theresa May’s leadership could have a huge impact on the north-east which relies heavily on the oil and gas industry.

Liberal Democrat MSP for North East Scotland, Mike Rumbles, noted his concerns for the energy sector, but also noted his satisfaction at May’s pledge to unite Britain.

“Although I am delighted that the new prime minister has made it clear that she regards the issue of a second independence referendum as closed,” he said. “I am concerned about her decision to downgrade the energy sector and combine that department with the business centre.

“If we are to judge the priorities of the new business and energy secretary in the Cabinet, his energy interests will definitely come second.

“This can only be bad news for the north-east oil and gas industry in particular, and for the north-east in general.”

Maureen Watt, MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, was also worried about the effects of scrapping the energy department on the north-east.

“To have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet barely a year after a full general election is a challenging upheaval for UK Government departments,” she said. “It is incredibly disappointing to see the department for energy and climate change has been scrapped and instead those issues will be shuffled in with business and industrial strategy.

“I, along with others, have been diappointed at how slowly the Tories in Westminster have taken to get to grips with giving the oil and gas industry any support during these challenging times, so this latest move is really baffling and seems like a step backwards.

“Theresa May had the opportunity to prioritise our energy sectors which means so much to the Scottish economy, but so far she does not appear to be giving due consideration to them at all.”

And Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse called for urgent talks with the UK Government over the decision.

He wanted to set clear goals with Westminster.

“We’ll be seeking assurances that the UK Government will back our efforts to create jobs and maximise benefits from the renewable energy sector, secure electricity supplies for everyone in these islands, and cut carbon emissions,” he said.