The environmental campaigning charity claims a leading role in the campaign for one since January 2009.

Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “The Government’s announcement to set up a Green Investment Bank is fantastic news -it should be a crucial building block in the creation of a safe, clean and prosperous future.

“This bank will provide crucial funds for major green developments, such as off- shore wind projects, which will slash emissions, increase our energy security and create thousands of new jobs.

“We must do much more to build a low carbon economy – but today’s announcement is a massive stride in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, north of the border Friends of the Earth Scotland says the Budget’s green shoots of recovery in Budget dwarfed by unsustainable business as usual.

Its statement read: “With perhaps his final opportunity to deliver a budget for sustainable growth, the Chancellor Alistair Darling today, once more failed to grasp the nettle.

“The budget makes no progress towards green fiscal reform. It leaves the banking sector to return to business as usual – as if nothing has been learnt from the financial crisis.

“Despite the broadly welcome announcement of a (partly) Green Investment Bank, it leaves green investment dwarfed by unsustainable investment.

“The Chancellor announced a £2bn Green investment bank to support nuclear power, renewable energy and sustainable transport. This announcement leaves in tatters the government’s promises that the development of nuclear power stations in the UK would be dependent on commercial investment, not government subsidy.

“Already dented by the announcement of the government’s investment in Sheffield Forgemasters to help them produce nuclear containment vessels, this proposal that government finance from the Green Investment Bank will underpin nuclear power development completely breaches those promises.

“Moreover, under the government’s watch since the bail out – lending to renewable energy from RBS alone has plummeted from over £2bn a year to less than £0.5bn in 2009.

“But instead of forcing the publically owned banks to deliver green investment, the Chancellor is requiring them to lend £94 billion without a single condition to protect the environment and human rights.

Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“We welcome the announcement of a green investment bank, but condemn the idea that it will subsidise nuclear power.

“It’s bad enough that only £2bn is to be directed to ‘green investment’ when the £94bn that RBS and Lloyds will be forced to loan out remains brown. It becomes completely ridiculous that much of the new bank’s money will be invested in an environmentally risky technology that will directly undermine the viability of the renewable energy development we so desperately need.”

The chancellor introduced no new green taxes, and staged the scheduled rise in fuel duty, thus further reducing the share of the tax base made up by green taxes.

Instead – directly contrary to the principles of green fiscal reform, he is sticking with his proposal to raise national insurance contributions from next April instead ¬ taxing jobs rather than waste and pollution.

McLaren commented: “Labour entered power in 1997 with a promise to shift the burden of taxation towards environmental bads. Today the situation is even worse than when they began, despite the opportunities to deliver more employment as well as cleaner environment by shifting the burden of taxation.”

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