Darling pledges millions in green investment

Hundreds of millions of pounds of extra cash will be spent on energy efficiency, public transport and environmental protection such as flood defences under measures announced by Alistair Darling last week.

In his Pre-Budget Report, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said £535m will be spent “more quickly” on the measures, which will create potentially one million “high-value green collar jobs”.

The Renewables Obligation will also be extended for an additional ten years to 2037, he announced.

Mr Darling said: “I am determined that the present economic uncertainty does not push aside the importance of protecting the environment and our long-term needs for a greener and secure energy future.”

Other green measures in the Pre-Budget report included:

  • Government will provide an additional £100m in new money, and bring forward another £50m, to help up to 60,000 more households insulate their homes
  • Air Passenger Duty will be reformed to hit those who fly furthest and have the biggest environmental impact, rather than being changed to “a tax per plane”
  • Ofgem will monitor the relationship between wholesale and retail energy prices, and stop companies charging over the odds
  • Vehicle Excise Duty increases for the most polluting cars will still be introduced from April 2010, but will be capped at £30, rather than a possible £90 increase. Less polluting cars will see no increase or a cut of up to £30
  • Commenting on the Vehicle Excise Duty changes, Mr Darling said: “I intend to go ahead with the introduction of new bands, reflecting fuel efficiency.

    “But it would be wrong to do this in a way that places undue burdens on motorists at this time.”

    How they reacted:

    “We need a much greater focus on concrete measures to deliver these green jobs if the UK is not going to get left behind in the race to become the leading low-carbon economy.”

    Adrian Wilkes, chairman of the Environmental Industries Commission

    “This extension to the Renewables Obligation will bring long-term stability and encourage developers to continue with the building programme.”

    Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association

    “Aviation has won the battle, but continues to fight the war… we remain concerned that the industry is taxed more than its fair share at this critical time.”

    Ed Anderson, chairman of the Airport Operators Association

    “This was an historic opportunity to invest billions in a low-carbon, high technology future, but the Chancellor blew it… new money for loft insulation gave a slight green tinge to an otherwise bleak budget.”

    John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace

    “The government continues to tinker with marginal changes, such as air passenger duty, without giving a clear signal on how carbon will be priced for the 50% of the UK carbon economy which is not covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.”

    John Manning, UK tax and environment leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers

    “It would be a helpful strengthening of recycling markets if the Government – and, indeed, the Scottish Government – could now announce an acceleration of green procurement plans as this would provide British jobs.”

    Dirk Hazell, chief executive of the Environmental Services Association

    Kate Martin

    Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie