International businesses are postponing investment in the North East in the wake of EU uncertainty, according to new research.
The RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) EU Referendum Paper, which examines the pros and cons of the UK remaining and exiting Europe, includes new survey data showing that there has been a steady easing in international demand for the North East’s office, industrial and retail property since the referendum was confirmed in the second quarter of 2015.
The demand indicator among international investors for commercial property in the North East is now at its lowest level since RICS records began in 2014, with just five per cent of RICS professionals surveyed reporting increased interest from overseas companies over the last three months.
Uncertainty caused by the EU referendum has been cited by 38 per cent of chartered surveyors working within the sector as the reason why major international retailers and other businesses have been nervous of investing in Britain.
Should Britain leave the EU, 43 per cent of respondents felt that it would have a negative impact on the North East’s commercial property sector and only six per cent said it would have a positive impact.
While the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has this month come out in favour of remaining in the EU, largely due to concerns around the loss of Common Agricultural Payments (CAP), the RICS EU Paper has highlighted that a Brexit may benefit the forestry sector.
And Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan argued this very point at a cross-party meeting at Westminster.
Mrs Trevelyan, Conservative vice-chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF), said: “I believe very firmly that the forestry and timber sector has a brighter future outside the European Union – especially because it is one of the industries most blighted by over-regulation by a bloated European super-structure.”
The meeting involved seven MPs, two peers and representatives from the industry.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the forestry and timber trade body Confor, which organised the meeting, said: “This was a very important debate and it was great to see a high level of engagement from politicians across the UK and across the political spectrum.
“There are very big issues on the table ahead of the EU referendum in terms of regulation, grant support, trade, the labour market and plant health. Anne-Marie Trevelyan is a strong and knowledgeable supporter of forestry and made a terrific contribution to the debate.
“Confor’s role is to facilitate debate and provide information so our members can make an informed choice about the future of the forestry and timber sector within or outside the EU and what both alternatives mean for their business.”
Confor distributed a discussion paper on the EU referendum and forestry ahead of the event and has also carried out a poll of forestry interests on the June 23 poll. It currently shows that 55 per cent of those polled want to remain in the EU and 45 per cent want to leave.
Mrs Trevelyan added: “It is really important to get these issues on the table and I think people can be persuaded before June 23 that leaving the EU is the best option – for forestry and for other business sectors.”