News

The Latest news from Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce -

Keep up to date with the latest news and stories from across Dumfries & Galloway.

 

Scotland's Fastest Electric Vehicle Charger Unveiled in Gretna

IONITY, joint venture between the BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, and the Volkswagen Group with Porsche AG, has expanded its UK network with a High Power Charging station in Gretna Green. This makes it Scotland’s fastest EV charging station.

 

 

IonityFinals-7401.jpg

IONITY is continuing the expansion of its UK charge network with the launch of a new station in Gretna Green. Drivers can now charge their electric cars in less than 20 minutes using renewable energy from IONITY’s High Power Chargers at Gretna Green services. IONITY is a joint venture between Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, BMW Group and the Volkswagen Group with Porsche AG, that aims to increase the feasibility and adoption of EVs by establishing convenient High Power Charging (HPC) sites across the continent. Gretna Green is the first of six stations to be launched in Scotland, becoming Scotland’s fastest charging stations.

Joined by Cllr. Campbell, Dumfries and Galloway Council Environment and Climate Champion and Colin Dugan, Motor Fuel Group’s (MFG) contract manager of the station, the opening ceremony marked a significant step toward the future of mobility in Scotland. With the latest generation of electric vehicles providing much-improved performance, efficiency and comfort, the new network will ease range anxiety for existing and potential EV owners.

IONITY’s network will establish 2400 chargers across Europe by 2020, enabling hassle-free Pan-European EV travel. With ultra-fast charging times and the selection of convenient motorway locations, IONITY’s network will make long distance journeys far more viable than much slower 50kW alternatives. The 350kW UK charging network is future-proofed, delivering infrastructure capable of charging times as low as 8 minutes, making e-mobility a convenient, reliable and everyday experience.

For all of its UK stations, IONITY’s High Power Chargers will provide every charge point with 100% renewable energy, greatly reducing the environmental impact of a journey and providing peace of mind for environmentally conscious drivers.

Cllr. Campbell, Dumfries and Galloway Council Environment and Climate Champion, said: “On 27th June 2019, Dumfries and Galloway Council made history by passing a Climate Emergency Declaration, agreeing to a 12-point plan to reduce carbon emissions in the region to net zero by 2025. We also committed to supporting communities and businesses to adapt to climate change and I’m delighted to come along and open the fastest charger in Scotland right here in our region. 

“Our declaration encompasses everything we will do to address Climate Change, building on our ongoing work already taking place within the Council, including reducing our carbon footprint and emissions by adopting electric vehicles and encouraging our staff to be more environmentally aware. We are ambitious and our goal is to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 which will contribute towards efforts worldwide to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees., but we need everyone to play their part and make changes to protect our natural environment.”

Minister of State for the Future of Transport, George Freeman MP, said: "The UK is in the vanguard of electrification of transport to reduce pollution. Through our Road to Zero Strategy we are funding major investment in vehicle charging infrastructure.

"Close collaboration with the private sector is crucial to achieving a zero-emission future and IONITY’s leadership is helping supercharge the UK’s charging infrastructure.”

Dr. Marcus Groll, COO of IONITY said, “Close collaboration with site partners like MFG is crucial to achieving a zero-emission future and IONITY’s network is finally giving EVs in the UK the kind of charging speeds their owners want.”

Alan Hutton, MFG’s Systems & Change Management Director said: “We are delighted to be extending our sustainable fuel offer to customers. The growth of the electric and hybrid vehicle market is an important part of the fuel mix going forward. MFG is determined to be at the forefront of this technology, satisfying this growing demand. The installation of these high-power chargers using renewable energy at MFG Gretna Green adds even greater momentum to the growing uptake of EV vehicles.”

 

SCC comments on proposed Brexit agreement

Commenting on the announcement that the UK and EU negotiators have come to an agreement, Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), said: 

 

 

“On the surface this is good news but the devil is in the detail. The huge effort by UK and EU negotiators to get us this far is appreciated. But until we see what the deal means for businesses on the ground, many are reserving judgement.

“We need to see what this new deal entails for businesses in Scotland that trade with companies in Europe and Northern Ireland, and businesses that employ EU nationals.

“Frankly, the announcement that a deal has been reached gives a slight feeling of ‘déjà vu’. We have been here before. Let’s not forget, this is not the end of the Brexit process, it is the beginning of the end of the first chapter. But that is only if the deal can secure parliamentary support.

“We wait with bated breath for a sensible solution to the Brexit conundrum.”

HMRC accelerates 95,000 firms onto simplified import procedures ahead of Brexit deadline

The Scottish Chambers of Commerce has welcomed moves by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to make importing simpler and easier for companies in Scotland.

HMRC has automatically registered 95,000 businesses across the UK for its simplified import procedures. These will allow most firms up to half a year to pay import duties and submit customs declarations that could be placed on them if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on the 31st of October.

Known as Transitional Simplified Procedures (TSP), the scheme will make importing from the EU after Brexit easier, particularly for businesses completing customs processes for the first time. Up to this point, businesses have had to apply for it – over 30,000 had previously registered. 

This TSP scheme will give most businesses up to six months to send in customs declarations and pay any customs duties to HMRC after importing goods from the EU. This will prevent lengthy congestion at the border when goods enter the UK.

 

 

Dr Liz Cameron OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) said:

“At a time of change, the top priorities at the border have to be keeping trade flowing and minimising the potential for disruption. 

“Automatically registering companies for Transitional Simplified Procedures at the border means one less immediate demand on traders’ limited time and resources in the unwanted event of a ‘no-deal’ exit. 

“In particular, it will help the Scottish firms who import from the EU but have little experience of dealing with customs processes. We are pleased that ministers have again listened to the SCC network’s calls to reduce the number of administrative hoops businesses will need to jump through as they navigate major changes to the way they trade across borders.”

*Businesses registered for TSP are UK-based traders who HMRC has a record of having imported goods from the EU in 2018. 

BCC Comment on Queens Speech

Commenting on the Queen’s Speech opening a new session of Parliament, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce said: “Our message to government is simple: put the economy at the forefront of your agenda. These are unnerving times for businesses facing Brexit uncertainty, global headwinds and a UK economy in stasis. The government’s economic plan must be grounded in reality, taking into account the conditions facing firms and the need to minimise further disruption.

 

adam_marshall_BCC.jpg

“Amidst the ongoing political turbulence, businesses can’t afford for government to lose sight of its responsibility to create conditions that support growth and boost investment - much of which doesn’t require new primary legislation. That means action to lower the upfront costs hitting firms, boosting investment in infrastructure and skills, and providing considerable investment incentives to companies.

“We’re at a critical juncture in the Brexit process, but the voice of business has been constant and unwavering since the referendum: a messy and disorderly Brexit must be avoided. To avert an overnight change in trading conditions and damaging economic consequences, all sides need to do everything in their power to find a way forward in the coming days.”

On immigration: “Business is looking for government to commit to a clear and consistent future immigration system that is based on economic need. Firms that rely on overseas workers to plug local shortages need clear detail on the rules for continuing to access these skills in the future. At a time of critical recruitment difficulties, companies need to be able to hire workers from aboard all levels and functions without masses of red tape, high costs or long delays.”

On trade: “UK businesses need a properly-funded trade strategy that gives firms the support and confidence they need to sell their goods and services around the world. Prioritising continuity of trade for UK businesses and minimising the potential for any disruption in the turbulent times that may lie ahead should be the goal of this government. Alongside that, we need more ground-level trade promotion and guidance to take advantage of the opportunities that new trade agreements may present.

“Businesses are also still waiting for the government to legislate for a long-term Trade Remedies Authority to protect UK businesses and interests against dumping and unfair practises.”

On infrastructure: “For the UK to prosper post-Brexit, we have to get the basics right, including a fully integrated and modern infrastructure network. The proposed National Infrastructure Strategy must engage closely with business communities to set out feasible measures for improving the road and rail network and boosting the reliability of broadband connectivity in all parts of the country.

“The message from government and ministers should be full-throated support of the major infrastructure projects that our businesses need and that send a strong message to global partners that the UK remains a great place to invest. There can be no further dithering on the delivery of all phases of HS2 and a third runway at Heathrow.”

On devolution: “Business communities will welcome the commitment to a Devolution White Paper. Any proposals must have a clear purpose, a strong role for business, and a defined replacement for EU funding. Business will support greater devolution of spending decisions when it’s clear that money intended to boost local growth is actually spent on local growth.”

On the environment: “The government’s ambition to position the UK as a global leader on the issue of climate change is laudable. For many firms the path to achieving this could bring growth across a range of sectors, technologies and markets. Together with business communities, the government should build a plan for how we will work across the four nations to reach net-zero by 2050, while also maintaining security of energy supply and stable prices.”

SCC Release Q3 Economic Indicator Survey

The latest Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) Quarterly Economic Indicator survey for Q3 of 2019 shows that businesses continue to struggle due to factors caused by Brexit uncertainty in the most recent quarter. Confidence remains on a downward trend in most sectors compared to the same period last year. Yet businesses, particularly in the financial and business services sector, are cautiously optimistic that a positive outcome to Brexit on 31 October could start restoring confidence in the Scottish economy.

Key highlights:

• On recession risk: data suggests that Scotland should avoid a ‘technical recession’ – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – when the next set of official figures are released later on this year.
• On the construction sector: The balance of construction firms increasing investment – total, capital and training – all fell into negative territory in Q3, with the level of work in progress at the lowest level in six years.
• On the retail sector: Confidence dipped in the retail and wholesale sector in the quarter as revenue trends fell back. Domestic issues such as too-high business rates and competition – online and on the high street – remain key concerns.

The survey, conducted by Scottish Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, is Scotland’s longest-running economic survey of its kind.

 

 

SCC President Tim Allen

Commenting on the results, Tim Allan, Chairman of the Scottish Business Advisory Group and President of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Our research shows that overall business performance has declined in the last year as companies take on board extra uncertainties caused by the tortuous progress of the Brexit process.

“The challenges businesses face are laid bare in the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Economic Indicator for Q3. As the UK faces yet another deadline in the Brexit process, construction and manufacturing have reported severe challenges in terms of future orders, exports and investment. Meanwhile companies in sectors including retail and tourism face continued challenges in recruiting people with the right skills as the number of available workers from Europe continues to decline.

“We continue to affirm the view that a disorderly, no-deal departure from EU will have painful, long lasting consequences for the economy in Scotland and the UK. But we also believe that, if Brexit is not just done but done well, there is significant potential for an upside.

“Uncertainty has undoubtedly stymied corporate investment. We put a direct challenge to political leaders today – deliver a positive outcome to Brexit and the economy will benefit. We believe there is a wall of cash that has been pent up while the process of leaving the EU has unfolded which can and will be unleashed.

“What employers need more than ever is for Scottish and UK governments to hone their focus on the needs of the economy. Scotland in particular suffers a long-standing problem of slower economic growth relative to England and poor productivity compared to global peers. We urgently need to correct these trends if Scotland is to deliver an inclusive economy that provides the jobs, skills and prosperity for current and future generations.”

On the construction sector, Tim Allan said:

“The QEI reveals that while revenues have remained healthy so far, work-in-progress has collapsed to the lowest level since 2013.

“Of particular concern is the drop off in investment, particularly in training. If Scotland is going to meet the challenge of recruitment difficulties caused by the end to freedom of movement, upskilling the Scottish workforce is essential. But this will not happen unless employers have the confidence to invest in the skills development of the workforce.”

On the manufacturing sector, Tim Allan said:

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manufacturing sector continues to struggle with the difficulties presented by Brexit uncertainty. As a result, confidence has tanked in the latest quarter as sales and exports fell and profits shrank. The sector has been hit by rising costs due to foreign exchange volatility and the ‘do we, don’t we’ stockpiling issue forced upon them by various Brexit deadlines. Manufacturers are a vital part of the Scottish economy and they are calling out for clarity.”

On retail and wholesale, Tim Allan said:

“Retailers are not feeling optimistic in Q3 and there is concern that the all-important pre-Christmas trading period could disappoint. Nevertheless, companies in this sector are gearing up for at least some investment and recruitment in the fourth quarter. However, more employers in the sector have reported recruitment difficulties which will continue to provide challenges. Domestic issues such as too-high business rates and competition – online and on the high street ¬– remain key concerns.”

On tourism, Tim Allan said:

“Optimism in Scotland’s key tourism sector has remained in positive territory but has shown a significant decline from the same time last year. Interestingly, businesses reported a slight increase in visitors from the EU compared to Q2. But this has not translated into easier recruitment, with employers reporting difficulties in finding staff.”

On financial and business services, Tim Allan said:

“This sector has demonstrated the most resilience in Q3, with increases in revenues and investment underpinning confidence. There is some cautious optimism for the fourth quarter which suggests there is expectation that a positive Brexit outcome will, after three very challenging years since the vote, see some much-needed renewal of vigour return to markets.”

Commenting on the results, Professor Graeme Roy, Director at the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, said:

“Scottish businesses appear to be treading water as they await clarity on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU.

“The data suggests that Scotland should avoid a ‘technical recession’ – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth – when the next set of official figures are released later on this year. However, growth remains fragile and investment levels remain weak.

“A ‘no deal’ Brexit remains the greatest immediate risk to the Scottish economy. It is misguided to argue that ‘no deal’ is better than further delay. A ‘no deal’ would not only act as a major economic shock but will do little to curb uncertainty, with the UK’s future relationship with the EU still needing resolved.”