Reports: Number 10 beefs up energy and infrastructure team

BusinessGreen staff
clock • 3 min read

Former Centrica executive Georgia Berry reportedly appointed as energy and infrastructure adviser, as Alex Chisholm confirmed as BEIS Permanent Secretary

Theresa May has reportedly appointed a senior executive at Centrica as her new energy and infrastructure adviser, beefing up the Number 10 policy unit ahead of an anticipated series of energy policy announcements over the autumn.

The Sun reported over the weekend that Georgia Berry, head of corporate responsibility at British Gas owner Centrica, is set to join the Downing Street team.

A Number 10 source told the paper Berry "will be a core member of the Policy Unit with responsibility for Energy and Infrastructure".

The paper also reported that reforms to clamp down on energy market "rip-offs" will be at the heart of a major new policy package to be unveiled at the Conservative party conference next month.

Berry, who has close links with the Conservative party thanks to her mother, Diana Berry, who was head of fundraising at Conservative Campaign Headquarters between 2004 and 2008, joins the Number 10 team at a crucial time for the future of UK energy, infrastructure and climate policy.

The government has promised to make a decision on the future of the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant later this month, while a major new low carbon industrial strategy for ensuring the UK meets its carbon targets is expected before the end of the year.

Berry's predecessor in the Number 10 Policy Unit, Stephen Heidari-Robinson, who served as energy and environment adviser to David Cameron, recently published an essay revealing how the Cameron government had been working on a new decarbonisation plan centred on increased investment in nuclear power, offshore wind, and some gas infrastructure, alongside a massive increase in electric vehicle ownership and sizeable improvements in energy efficiency.

The news came as the government today announced Sir Martin Donnelly is stepping down from his role as joint Permanent Secretary at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help set up the new Department for International Trade over the coming months.

The move means Alex Chisholm will become the sole Permanent Secretary for BEIS from today, having formerly served as Permanent Secretary at the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve as Permanent Secretary for BEIS, working with the ministerial team and departmental colleagues to establish the new department and deliver on the promise of a new industrial strategy," Chisholm said.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said he wanted to "thank Sir Martin Donnelly for his years of service at the department, and wish him the very best in his new role".

"I look forward to working with Alex Chisholm as he leads the vital work of the new department in forging our industrial strategy, leading the government's relationship with business, furthering our world-class science base, delivering affordable clean energy and tackling climate change," he added.

Head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood said the merger of BIS and DECC was already proving effective. "I'm delighted with the way in which the former BIS and DECC departments are already coming together to create a new power-house department to drive the government's new industrial strategy and the country's long-term economic performance," he said. "Alex's background in leading large organisations will be vital in continuing this process of bringing together the two sides of BEIS. And having an experienced Permanent Secretary like Martin is invaluable to help set up the Department for International Trade as it grows."

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