Today I joined delegates in parliament in a crucial meeting with Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom MP, and George Eustice Minister of State (DEFRA), to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the Marine Energy Sector. This round table discussion included representatives from a number of private companies, local authorities in the South West, Plymouth and Exeter Universities, three Government Departments and Plymouth MP Oliver Colvile.
Marine Energy is a growth area in Cornwall and the South West and there's a potential for a significant number of well paid jobs to be created in this sector. A lot of talk and a lot of research and development has taken place regarding wave and tidal energy and in the South West we have a good story to tell. However, we are not yet generating the energy that we all expected and we met today to ensure that during the next 5 years the marine energy industry does begin to deliver on the promise offered by wave and tidal power.
Currently 300 companies are actively involved in the a Marine Energy Sector in the South West. At our meeting we asked the Government to help the Marine Energy Industry develop a strong 'direction of travel'. The sector is very dependant on private investment and needs government to help to build confidence so that they can continue to invest in developing the skills the industry needs to grow.
It was agreed that marine energy companies would work with the new Energy Minister to develop a clear strategy for the industry to provide direction over the next 5 - 10 years.
My activities here in the Houses of Parliament today included a meeting to look at the opportunities that exists when addressing the issue of climate change. The topic is vast so in brief - opportunities include: developing the means to produce our own energy in Cornwall through renewable sources, building carbon neutral homes, addressing fuel poverty in existing properties and building a smart grid...
Achieving a number of positive outcomes as follows: new jobs, lower energy bills, reduced demand on health services (addressing fuel poverty) and the potential to export our technology overseas.
We also had a Science and Technology Select Committee meeting where we continued the enquiry into public spending on science and technology.
It's relevant because government-aided research and development has allowed us (in part) to be a world-leader in the renewables sector which is now worth more to the UK economy than our motor industry.