EA chief calls for ‘Green New Deal’

The UK needs a 'Green New Deal' to stimulate investment in clean energy and move to a low carbon economy, the head of the Environment Agency has said.

Addressing the agency’s annual conference in London, agency chairman Chris Smith called for Government to draw up a comprehensive, long term strategy to drive the changes.

He said the strategy would need to echo the fundamental changes made under President Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal policies in the 1930s to resurrect the economy following the Great Depression.

“I believe we do have a great potential for a Green New Deal approach in Britain which puts serious investment into a new low-carbon economy in areas where we already have a natural advantage – tidal and wind – or where there’s a real social need, such as insulation for older people’s homes,” Lord Smith said.

“To deal with the financial crisis, Government has been bold. To deal with the energy and climate crises, we need the same boldness.”

He outlined the key elements he envisages as part of a Green New Deal, including:

  • Development of carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations
  • More incentives for energy efficiency in homes and businesses
  • Greater use of combined heat and power (CHP)
  • Removal of disincentives to the development of anaerobic digestion
  • Feed-in tariffs and grants to help householders use sustainable energy
  • A major national programme for power generation from renewable sources
  • Continuing development of work to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • The agency will be making its own contribution to encouraging greener energy by generating its own renewable energy, chief executive Paul Leinster announced.

    Up to 80 wind turbines could be built on Environment Agency-owned land across England and Wales – enough to power a city the size of York.

    The turbines will generate up to £2.4m of revenue every year, which the agency said will be ploughed back into its work protecting and improving the environment, and adapting to climate change.

    “We all need to take account rather than just talk about climate change,” Dr Leinster said.

    “In the Environment Agency, climate change adaptation and mitigation will be increasingly factored into everything we do.”

    Kate Martin

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