DECC merged into business department as Rudd replaced

In a major shake-up for the energy sector Prime Minister Theresa May has merged the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Greg Clark, who previously served under David Cameron as the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, has been appointed to the newly-created post of Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Amber Rudd, his predecessor as Energy Secretary, has been named as the new Home Secretary.

The announcements sparked a mixed reaction from the energy industry and from environmental lobby groups.

Ed Miliband, who had been the first Secretary of State at DECC, described the move as “just plain stupid” and Friends of the Earth Chief Executive Craig Bennett said he was shocked by the news and said it appeared that the new Prime Minister has “already downgraded action to tackle climate change”.

But trade bodies welcomed the appointment of Clark, who had previously held the Shadow Energy Secretary post.

Clark’s experience recognised

James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said: “We are delighted Greg Clark has been appointed the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

“He previously showed real vision as the Shadow Energy Secretary and we look forward to working with him once again in order to get things moving on the deployment of new renewable energy infrastructure.”

RenewableUK Chief Executive Hugh McNeal added: “We’re looking forward to working supportively with Mr Clark in his new role, as we represent industries that can attract inward investment in the UK, and onshore wind offers the cheapest source of new power for Britain.

“The renewable energy industry has faced some tough challenges over the past year, but now we have clarity on the make-up of the new administration we can move forward.”

Clark said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to lead this new department charged with delivering a comprehensive industrial strategy, leading government’s relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable, clean energy and tackling climate change.”

DECC and BIS merger welcomed

Other players welcomed the amalgamation of DECC and BIS.

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Mr Clark will clearly bring a lot of knowledge of the energy sector from his time as Communities Secretary.

“It makes sense for energy and industrial policy to be in one place, given the potential economic benefits to the UK from further growth in renewables and investment in important new technologies like storage.

“We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State and to playing a central role in achieving Government’s ambitions to tackle climate change and bring prosperity to every part of the UK.”

In a blog post, Richard Howard, Head of Environment & Energy at Policy Exchange said the creation of the new Government department should be welcomed.

“DECC has always been regarded as something of a minnow in departmental terms. By merging with BIS, energy and climate change issues can be elevated to a much higher level politically. The combination of business, energy and industrial strategy also offers some significant opportunities to mainstream climate change into business and industry.”

> Read Clark's statement