‘Slur’ peer Lord Howell praises North-East during visit

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THE Conservative peer who previously described the North-East as “desolate” has visited the Tees Valley – and outlined how the region could play a key role in modernising energy production.

Lord Howell addressed 180 regional business leaders at the North East Chamber of Commerce President’s Club meeting at Wynyard Hall.

Chamber officials invited the former Energy Minister to visit the region for the first time since his comments. He was so impressed, that he agreed to address the President’s Club yesterday.

He said the UK was well placed to draw on an abundant energy supply and added: “We are alive with innovations right through the energy supply chain, many of them being carried forward here in the North-East, which is truly Britain’s energy hub.

“All that is needed is enough certainty in the policy framework to incentivise investors and marry finance with technology.”

He said that, even in the short term, the country could be saved from power shortage by connecting more with Norway, Ireland, Spain, Iceland “all of who have masses of spare green electricity to pour into our grid,” he said.

President Dave Laws said Lord Howell’s original remarks, while misconstrued, “helped highlight the fact the region boasts a wealth of locations and resources for large-scale investment”.