Press release: Environment Secretary explores the future of farming at the Royal Norfolk Show

Farmers across East Anglia could produce, sell and export more than ever before following the UK’s exit from the EU with the help of cutting edge technology and innovation, the Environment Secretary said today.

On a visit to the Royal Norfolk Show on 28 June 2017, Environment Secretary Michael Gove met with researchers and businesses at the ‘Innovation Hub’ to find out more about the latest research and emerging agricultural technologies.

From a ‘FitBit for cows’ that provides real time information on the health of a herd, to a demonstration of how ‘agrimetrics’ data can support farmers and boost food production, pioneering agricultural technology (agri-tech) on display at the show could provide new opportunities for East Anglia’s farmers.

Speaking at the show, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said:

Emerging technologies will play a vital role in boosting productivity and growth, unlocking the full potential of our farming industry as we adapt to a rapidly changing world and maintain our leading role on the global stage outside the European Union.

The East of England is a real hotbed of agricultural innovation and the enthusiasm and passion of the region’s farmers, who exported a record £1.6bn of food and drink last year, is truly inspirational.

Agri-tech contributes £14.4bn to the UK economy every year, underpinning the UK’s food and drink industry, our largest manufacturing sector. The government has already invested £160 million through the Agri-Tech Strategy to help develop innovative solutions from the laboratory through to the farm.

Dr Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-Tech East, an independent membership organisation supporting the development of the agri-tech cluster, said:

Innovation is most effective when it is focussed on solving clearly defined problems. By bringing progressive farmers, who are willing to pilot new approaches, together with those who have potential solutions, Agri-Tech East is facilitating a step-change in agri-food production that is productive, profitable and sustainable.

The Innovation Hub is a good showcase for the agri-tech cluster, showing how collaboration can accelerate innovation based on sound science.

The Environment Secretary also visited the show’s food hall, meeting with food producers from across the east of England, and visited the ‘Broads Village’ which showcases the importance of the National Park to industry, culture and landscapes.

News story: Introduction of Space Industry Bill shows UK’s commitment to commercial spaceflight

The Bill, which was outlined in the Queen’s Speech, is a clear signal of the UK’s commitment to enabling commercial spaceflight from UK spaceports, and a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy to ensure the UK businesses capture a share of this emerging global market.

Lord Callanan, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Transport introduced the Space Industry Bill, which is a joint initiative by the Department for Transport, UK Space Agency and Civil Aviation Authority supported by the Health and Safety Executive.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

The Space Industry Bill will ensure the UK remains a leading player in the commercial space age by enabling small satellite launch from UK spaceports. The measures in the Bill will help make the UK the most attractive place in Europe for commercial launch and enable UK businesses to capture a growing share of this emerging global market.

The emerging markets for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight are forecast to be worth over £25 billion globally over the next 20 years. They offer exciting opportunities to grow the UK space sector, create local jobs and inspire the next generation of British scientists and engineers.

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • new powers to license a wide range of spaceflight activities, including vertically-launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation, spaceports and other technologies
  • a comprehensive and proportionate regulatory framework to manage risk, ensuring that commercial spaceflight in the UK remains safe
  • measures to regulate unauthorised access and interference with spacecraft, spaceports and associated infrastructure, drawing on the UK’s extensive expertise – particularly in aviation security
  • measures to promote public safety by providing a regulatory framework to cover operational insurance, indemnity and liability

This legislation will ensure the UK can take advantage of new markets, overcome dependence on foreign launch services and benefit from the development of new spaceports and supply chains.

Press release: Government commits to continue funding its share of Europe’s flagship UK-based nuclear fusion research facility

  • government pledges to meet its fair share of funding for the JET project until the end of 2020
  • payment assured if the EU extends the UK’s contract to host the Oxfordshire-based facility beyond 2018
  • announcement underlines government commitment to maintain high quality research in the UK and continued collaboration with EU partners

The government has signalled its willingness to maintain research collaboration with European partners after the UK leaves the EU by committing to underwrite UK funding for the Joint European Torus (JET) project, the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced today (27 June 2017).

Subject to the EU extending the UK’s contract to host the world-class nuclear fusion facility beyond 2018, the UK has agreed to underwrite its fair share of JET’s running costs, which is based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.

The move supports the UK’s ambition to be the go-to place for scientists and innovators across the world, and secure the right outcome for the UK’s research base as we exit the EU.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

JET is a prized facility at the centre of the UK’s global leadership in nuclear fusion research, which is why the government is taking every possible step to secure its future and to maintain highly-skilled jobs in the UK.

Combined with our Industrial Strategy and investment of £4.7 billion for research and development, today’s funding commitment highlights the importance we place on this partnership and our desire for this valuable work to continue uninterrupted.

The JET project is home to the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion reactor and has led global efforts to develop a clean, safe energy source. It supports 1,300 jobs in the UK, 600 of which are highly skilled scientists and engineers.

Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

For nearly half a century, the UK has hosted national and international researchers who have brought us closer to realising one of science’s greatest prizes – a clean, safe and virtually inexhaustible energy source.

Our exit from the EU has not altered our desire and willingness for the UK to continue playing a leading role in furthering our scientific understanding, and today’s announcement aims to provide the necessary reassurance for us to continue this partnership.

The UK’s contract to maintain and run the JET project is managed by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and is due to end in December 2018. As part of this contract, the EU currently provides around £60 million of funding per year, which represents 88% of JET’s running costs. The UK’s commitment to continue funding the facility will apply should the EU approve extending the UK’s contract to host the facility until 2020. A discussion will then take place on the appropriate funding split.

Professor Ian Chapman, CEO of UKAEA said:

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is the largest scientific endeavour mankind has ever undertaken and JET is undoubtedly the best place in the world to prepare for ITER’s successful operation. UKAEA are pleased that the UK Government is committed to exploiting JET as we prepare to break fusion records in the next few years.

Today’s announcement follows previous UK commitments to continue European research collaboration. In 2016, the government announced UK businesses and universities should continue to bid for competitive EU funds, such as the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, while the UK remains a member of the EU, and the government will work with the Commission to ensure payment when funds are awarded - even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

Guidance: ESF Action Notes: 2014 to 2020 Programme

ESF Action Notes are formal communications issued to inform all Grant Recipients (GR) about specific issues they need to act on.

Action Notes may support updates of Eligibility Rules and Programme Guidance documents drawing attention to specific rules or requirements that are either new or have been modified. Others may focus on more technical information or one off requests/opportunities the Managing Authority needs to make GR aware of or potentially act on.

Action Notes are separate from and do not replace Funding Agreements terms, published ESF (or ESIF) Eligibility Rules, Programme Guidance or other requirements in documents published on GOV.UK.

If you have queries about ESF Action Notes please email ESF.2014-2020@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK or if you are an ESF GR contact your Contract Manager.

News story: Jobs boost as North Sea field makes first oil delivery

Located around 125 km east of the Shetland Islands, the £2 billion investment in the Kraken oilfield by oil and gas development and production company EnQuest, was made possible by the UK Government’s support for the sector.

The oilfield is expected to contain around 128 million barrels of oil and support more than 1,000 jobs in the UK for each year of its more than 20 year lifespan.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said:

This is a landmark project for EnQuest and the UK oil and gas sector as one of the largest new oil fields to come on-stream in the North Sea in a decade.

This has been made possible through significant UK government support worth £2.3 billion over two years to encourage investments of this type in the North Sea, supporting thousands of highly-skilled jobs.

We’ll continue to build on this support for the oil and gas sector as it looks to seize the significant opportunities that lie ahead.

The North Sea currently supports around 330,000 jobs across the UK with a supply chain that had an estimated turnover of £28 billion in 2016.

Scottish Secretary, David Mundell said:

This is fantastic news and will help ensure skilled, secure jobs in the vital North Sea oil and gas industry, which is very much still open for business.

The UK Government is committed to helping the oil and gas industry maximise future prosperity. We stand ready to continue to support the industry as its seizes this tremendous opportunity.

The UK Government is continuing to encourage investment to ensure industry is able to maximise the recovery of oil and gas from the UK Continental Shelf in the North Sea.

The Kraken Area (Kraken and Kraken North) is estimated to have 3% of remaining UK oil reserves, 2% of total oil and gas reserves and, at peak in 2019, to be responsible for 3% of total UK oil and gas production.

Policy paper: EU (Approvals) Bill: summary factsheet

The purpose of the Bill is to approve 4 draft decisions of the Council of the European Union. This is to fulfil a requirement in section 8 of the European Union Act 2011, which requires Parliament to approve draft decisions made under Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Parliamentary approval will enable the UK to vote in favour of the draft decisions.

The first draft decision relates to the participation of the Republic of Albania as an observer in the work of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The second draft decision relates to the participation of the Republic of Serbia as an observer in the work of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

The third and fourth draft decisions relate to the signing and conclusion of an agreement between the EU and the government of Canada that will allow enhanced cooperation between the European Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau on competition matters.

Press release: Christine Tacon reappointed as Groceries Code Adjudicator

Consumer Minister Margot James has today (26 June 2017) announced the reappointment of Christine Tacon CBE as the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA).

Covering the UK’s 10 largest supermarkets, the Groceries Code was introduced in 2010 to ensure a level playing field between supermarkets and their direct suppliers. The Groceries Code Adjudicator was set up to enforce compliance with the Code in 2013. The news comes ahead of the Groceries Code annual conference on Monday 26 June.

Having held the role of Groceries Code Adjudicator since its launch, Ms Tacon has overseen significant progress in compliance with the Groceries Code.

A recent survey showed an 8% fall in suppliers reporting breaches of the Code in the last 12 months in 2015 and a 17% decrease compared to 2014, with both large retailers and small suppliers reporting improvements in awareness of the Code.

Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James, said:

This reappointment recognises the significant and valuable contribution of Christine Tacon in ensuring suppliers get a good deal when doing business with supermarkets.

Under Christine’s guidance, the Groceries Code Adjudicator is now recognised internationally as a model example of modern enforcement. It is vital the government retains this expertise, which is why I am delighted to reappoint Christine and thank her for her work so far.

In 2015 Ms Tacon investigated alleged Code breaches by Tesco, which resulted in the supermarket adopting fairer payment practices and improved transparency in all its dealings with suppliers.

As a statutory requirement, the government reviewed the GCA’s performance in October 2016, and a full report will be made public later this summer.

Press release: Scottish limited partnerships to reveal identity of owners thanks to new laws

  • New laws will force Scottish limited partnerships to disclose ownership and control information
  • Partnerships who fail to comply within 28 days will face fines
  • Laws will help to improve transparency of partnerships and act as a deterrent against their use for criminal ends

Around 30,000 firms registered as Scottish limited partnerships will be forced to reveal their owners’ identities under laws.

There have been allegations that some of these companies have been using these arrangements as vehicles of crime, with a 236% increase in the number of Scottish limited partnerships registered between March 2011 and March 2016.

Scottish Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2017, which come into force on Monday (26 June 2017), will bring these firms into line with others in the UK, requiring them to disclose the identity of their beneficial owners within 28 days. If they fail to do so, these partnerships will face daily fines of up to £500.

UK government Business Minister Margot James said:

This government is committed to ensuring all businesses are run responsibly.

These new laws will help to improve transparency of Scottish limited partnerships and act as a deterrent against their use for criminal ends.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

These new laws are a sign of the UK government’s commitment to transparency around Scottish limited partnerships.

Campaign groups and media activity have highlighted growing concerns that SLPs had the potential to be used for criminal activity, and by introducing stronger deterrents the UK government is encouraging transparency.

Separately, earlier this year the government launched a review into ‘limited partnerships’ across the country, with a particular focus on those registered in Scotland following allegations that some of these businesses are being used for criminal purposes.

Unlike those set up in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scottish limited partnerships have their own ‘legal personality’, meaning they can hold assets, borrow money from banks and enter into contracts. A limited partnership is a particular type of business made up of a number of partners, who can be people or other business entities.

Notes to editors

  1. Scottish limited partnerships will need to provide information about the people or legal entities that have significant control.
  2. Guidance will be published alongside the regulations to help Scottish limited partnerships to establish who has significant control over them and to understand the detail of the new regulations.
  3. Information provided by Scottish limited partnerships will be available on the Companies House register.

News story: Product recall

Guidance on how to check latest recalls, register your appliance and who to contact for more information on product safety.

If there is a problem with the safety of a product, its manufacturer is responsible for making arrangements for its repair and replacement or refund. This includes contacting the people who have purchased it where possible and publishing a notice drawing attention to the risk the product poses and what the manufacturer is doing to remedy the issue.

Further information: