CPI: urgency of energy crisis not being fully understood

Jo Francis
Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Confederation of Paper Industries has warned over a “lack of any actual action” after the body – together with representatives of other energy-intensive sectors – lobbied business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng over the energy price crisis nearly a fortnight ago.

Newsprint reels at Palm Paper in King's Lynn
Newsprint reels at Palm Paper in King's Lynn

CPI director general Andrew Large said he was concerned that the urgency of the situation was not being fully understood, and that any eventual support may not actually be of much help. 

“We’re heartened that there’s an understanding within BEIS about the need for urgent action and we understand proposals have been put forward to the Treasury for its consideration,” he said. 

“However the lack of any actual action is of concern and implies the urgency of the issue is not understood at the highest levels of Government. We also understand that Treasury is leaning to supporting business loans that – at best – simply push the issue away for a short time until the loans need to be repaid.”

He called for the energy market here to be reset “so that UK industry pays the same for energy as our competitors based in the EU”.

The CPI had already warned that UK paper mills could be forced to shut down if the crisis wasn’t resolved soon. 

Bloomberg has reported that Palm Paper in King’s Lynn, the country’s biggest producer of newsprint, could be forced to cut production due to the spiralling cost of gas. 

Neither Palm Paper UK, or its German parent company, had responded to Printweek’s request for comment at the time of writing. 

The CPI, together with representatives of other energy-intensive industries including steel, chemicals, ceramics, glass and cement, have proposed the government takes the following measures to help mitigate the crisis: immediate Winter Cost Containment Measures on gas, electricity and carbon prices; action to reduce Energy Intensive Installation network costs; support for companies so they can remain competitive as the UK economy;  and modifying the Gas Emergency Measures so there are no emergency or sudden supply disruptions that can damage equipment.

On Tuesday Kwarteng published the government’s Net Zero Strategy to 2050, but there has been no update as yet from BEIS or the Treasury on the immediate crisis afflicting industry. 

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