Sleaford MP seeks Government help to increase electricity grid capacity in district to serve businesses and green power generators

Dr Caroline Johnson speaking at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP utilities summit. Photo: Andrew Brooks EMN-170720-171113001
Dr Caroline Johnson speaking at the Greater Lincolnshire LEP utilities summit. Photo: Andrew Brooks EMN-170720-171113001

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Caroline Johnson has urged businesses to put forward ‘concrete proposals’ to government to attract infrastructure funding in the county.

Dr Johnson spoke yesterday (Tuesday) at the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Utility Summit, held at Lindum Business Park in North Hykeham.

The summit brought together government, local business and industry experts to talk about the need for investment in infrastructure locally.

The LEP has commissioned a utilities study, which is looking at the capacity of the county’s utilities infrastructure to support existing and future growth over the next twenty years.

Caroline spoke about how MPs can help, and highlighted the need for ‘concrete proposals’ to be put forward to government to attract funding.

She raised the particular case of Teal Park in North Hykeham, which is home to a number of prominent businesses, but the growth of this development area has been limited due to insufficient electricity infrastructure.

She committed to hosting a meeting between the LEP, Lincolnshire MPs and others once the report is complete to discuss ways in which suggested projects can be taken forward.

Commenting afterwards, Dr Johnson said: “We have a need for electricity supply in our area, but we also have businesses and farmers wanting to generate renewable energy through anaerobic digestion and solar panels – the problem is that there is insufficient capacity to take the electricity generated onto the overly-saturated national grid.

“The work being done by the LEP on these issues is crucial in highlighting clear, specific actions to be taken, and I look forward to working closely with them to bring these projects forward and improve the prospects for business in Lincolnshire. Big infrastructure projects take time, but I am determined to do whatever I can as a local MP to push them forward.”

Seventy key figures from business, the utilities sector, national government and local councils came together for the first Utilities Summit organised by the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Access to utilities like water, gas and electricity is one of the main issues facing businesses in Greater Lincolnshire, and in some cases development and investment opportunities have been lost because of the poor provision and cost of utilities in some areas.

The aim of the summit, held at Lindum Business Park in North Hykeham, was to bring together key players and start a conversation about how the utilities infrastructure can be improved.

The summit will also enable delegates to contribute to the utilities study which the Greater Lincolnshire LEP is carrying out in partnership with local authorities. The study will look at the capacity of Greater Lincolnshire’s utilities infrastructure to support existing and future growth over the next 20 years and a report is expected to be published in October.

“With the Government shaping its Industrial Strategy over the summer, the Greater Lincolnshire LEP believes a reasonable goal would be a long-term strategy that can accommodate existing growth and future-proof the utilities capacity of areas such as ours,” said Ursula Lidbetter chairman of the LEP, who also introduced the summit.

She added: “Following on from this summit we would like to present our findings to all Greater Lincolnshire MPs and explore ways in which we could raise the profile of the utilities challenge we are all facing.

“We want to explore ways to move this up the Government’s agenda and support our ambitions for growth.”