Defra cash boost for low-carbon technology

More than £400m has been pledged towards the development of clean energy technologies, investments and enterprises over the next three years.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the funding as part of the 2008-09 budget for the Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,

This will include £47.4m to the Carbon Trust to develop new methods to generate energy, such as marine power and biomass, and to increase its energy-saving loans scheme for small businesses from £50m to £62m.

An additional £10m will be provided for a new anaerobic digestion demonstration programme, where up to four facilities will test the potential of the technology.

A further £800m of Defra’s budget has already been committed to tackling environmental challenges in developing countries over the next three years.

“Now is the time to act together to tackle climate change and protect our environment,” Mr Benn said.

“Government must lead the way by ensuring we are investing in building a low carbon Britain.”

Defra’s overall budget has been increased by 1.4% in real terms, which also includes more than £2bn of spending on flood protection over the next three years.

However, a 30% cut in funding for WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) came under fire following Thursday’s announcement.

In a statement, WRAP said: “While the cut in funding in is disappointing, it is in line with our expectations.”

The organisation said it would need to review its budgets before it could make any further comment.

Steve Lee, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), said the cuts could undermine the ambitions of the Government’s Waste Strategy for England 2007.

He added: “These cuts are likely to see an end to crucial support for local authorities and business and industry at a time when that support is most needed.”

The RSPB also raised concerns over funding for wildlife. It said there will be an annual shortfall of £300m in funds it believes are needed to reverse the decline of birds such as skylarks and protect wildlife-rich sites at sea.

Kate Martin

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