DETR announces big increase in spending on the environment

The proportion of the British Government’s budget allocated for spending on the environment will grow by an average 11% a year in real terms, it has been announced by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR).

As part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s comprehensive spending review outlined by Gordon Brown on Tuesday in the House of Commons, spending on protecting the environment will increase to £1.7 billion by 2004.

The new money will help the Government achieve certain Key Public Service Agreement targets, including the National Air Quality Strategy targets; a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; a strategy of recycling or composting 17% of household waste by April 2004; and the reduction of fuel poverty among vulnerable households by improving the energy efficiency of 600 000 homes between April 2001 and 2004.

Over three years £140 million will be spent on waste management, as well as a share of a £1.1 billion local authority provision for funding environmental protective and cultural services, a DETR spokesman told edie. There will also be £25 million over three years for the Waste and Recycling Action Programme (WRAP) to find greater markets for recycled materials. Further details on the spending will be announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in due course.

“Improving the air we breathe, the homes and communities we live in and the transport services we depend on are at the heart of my department’s responsibilities,” said Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. “Together with the launch of our new Ten Year Plan for Transport, the extra money announced today will deliver real improvements in all these areas and marks a further step in putting right years of under-investment in our basic social fabric.”

The DETR also announced increases in spending on housing, the regions and transport, with a total increase in their budget of £7.1 billion by 2004 to £17.9 billion. The money will be aimed at modernising an extra half a million homes, and helping twice as many families into home-ownership. It also aims to improve the supply of social housing in high demand areas; strengthening the role of Regional Development Agencies to help ensure every region shares in rising prosperity and high employment; improving access to the countryside and provide a new initiative to help market towns.

The new money will also provide the launchpad for a ten year transport strategy, intended to tackle road congestion, and a backlog on road maintenance, as well as improving both rural and urban public transport, allowing services to convey a far greater number of passengers more reliably.

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