Budget 2010: Green bank and cuts?

Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to formally announce plans for the green investment bank today (March 24) and details of other environmental initiatives.

The much anticipated bank is likely to be backed with around £2bn of public and private finance to fund environmentally friendly projects.

While the bank is likely to be announced later today other groups fear the aftermath of the recession will force cuts in environmental areas.

Energy and climate change minister, Ed Miliband, said this morning he had spoken to Mr Darling and that the chancellor was preparing a ‘green budget’.

He said: “Alistair knows the importance the green economy can play in improving our future.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England’s head of campaigns, Ben Stafford, said more green funding was needed.

He said: “This budget may clarify where the chancellor’s axe will fall, all parties are talking about ring-fencing particular budgets, such as schools and hospitals, but this suggests cuts will be deeper elsewhere.

“The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) currently accounts for less than 0.5% of total government spending, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change for about 0.3% – in the grand scheme of things, this is small change lost down the back of the Whitehall sofa.

“At a time of growing threats to the environment and the countryside from development, climate change and simple neglect, it would be remarkably short-sighted for any political party to advocate trimming these budgets even further.

“A fund to kick-start investment in green transport and energy schemes is encouraging, although the £1 billion being mooted is pretty small beer.

“It’s important that this money is well spent, the Government should use it to subsidise low carbon car clubs, making the latest technologies available to hard-pressed households that cannot afford to buy a new car, let alone a low carbon one.”

Luke Walsh

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