Green measures in UK budget
As widely predicted the UK budget contained several measures to support a green recovery.
Comment: CIWEM ‘limp environmental initiatives are token gestures’
CIWEM is pleased by the Chancellor’s recognition of the importance of energy efficiency but the Institution is critical of the Government’s apparent lack of understanding that technology alone is not enough to confront climate change. ‘Clean coal’ is like friendly fire.
Nick Reeves, Executive Director of CIWEM, said: “So far, the Government’s record on the environment has been derisory and conflicting.
“Rather than confronting the downturn with a cohesive vision for the next generation and kick-starting the green economy, the Government has shown that it is daunted by the recession and is dithering.
“Ministers must show a much greater sense of urgency as the environment won’t be saved by promises alone.”
Greenpeace called the budget a ‘mixed bag’.
John Sauven Greenpeace’s executive director said: “Ministers tell us climate change is the great challenge of our time, but the money found for renewables and energy efficiency is only marginally more than Mr Darling found earlier this year for RBS bonuses.
“The Obama administration says it won’t let the economic crisis go to waste and is promising to reshape the U.S. economy in response to global warming, while here Gordon Brown says the same thing then holds out a fistful of pennies.”
The UK Green Building Council welcomed additional funding for energy efficiency and low carbon buildings, but warned the measures fell short.
Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “It’s good to see extra money for cutting carbon in social housing, additional investment in low carbon new homes and some funding of green refurbishment in public sector buildings.
“But this falls short of a comprehensive strategy to put low carbon buildings at the heart of economic recovery.
“More could have been done to really make green refurbishment affordable and attractive to home owners, businesses and the public sector, in order to both cut carbon emissions and create green-collar jobs. This is a wasted opportunity to map a truly low carbon route out of this recession.”
The Combined Heat and Power Association (CHPA) called the budget a ‘major step’ towards establishing a low carbon industrial base in the UK.
Graham Meeks, director of the CHPA, said: “At a difficult point in the economic cycle, this vitally important Budget provides much needed certainty to investors in low carbon technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) plant.
“The Budget commitments, which include the extension of the climate change levy exemption beyond 2013, could help to deliver over £2.5bn and up to £7.5bn of investment in new CHP plant.”
Philip Mulligan, chief executive of Environmental Protection UK, welcomed the announcement to accelerate the removal of older, polluting vehicles from roads, and stimulate the market for cleaner electric vehicles.
He said: “Older vehicles produce a hugely disproportionate amount of pollutants and noise that cause ill health and premature death amongst residents of our towns and cities.
“The recession has drastically slowed the turnover of the UK car fleet, and incentives to remove the most polluting vehicles from our roads should be strongly welcomed.”
He also said electric vehicles should also be welcomed as an even better way of cleaning up our towns and cities.
We will be updating this story throughout the day as more information and responses filter through, so check back for the latest budget news and views.
CIWM seemed pretty pleased with the budget.
Steve Lee, chief executive, said: “Greater certainty about the future of Landfill Tax is clearly one of key headlines for our sector, and we now have what the CIWM and many in the industry have been asking for – a medium term plan that takes us to 2013 and allows businesses, local authorities and the waste sector to plan effectively for the delivery of future services and treatment infrastructure.
“A rate of £72/tonne tax plus the gate fee is generally viewed as being the level needed to keep us moving up the waste hierarchy.
“We also welcome the consultation on modernising the landfill tax launched today, which should provide greater clarity in a number of important areas, including the re-examination of wastes that should only attract the lower (inactive) rate.
“The industry was already aware of the additional PFI support and the announcement of £10 million for anaerobic digestion (AD) and in-vessel composting is also encouraging.
“As Chair of Defra’s AD Task Group, I believe it will help stimulate development of this technology, which clearly has a role to play in the future.
“Although later than expected, a consultation later this year into further landfill restrictions for biodegradable and recyclable materials should help to sharpen the focus on industrial and commercial wastes, a reprioritisation that the CIWM has been calling for.
“There are, of course, other measures, including additional support for renewables and combined heat and power that will impact on the waste industry, and CIWM will be examining their potential impact more closely in the coming days.”
The Renewable Energy Association (REA) said there’s a green lining for an otherwise gloomy budget.
Philip Wolfe, director general of the REA said, “The economic storm clouds are clearly thundering through this budget, but at least they have a green lining.
“We are glad the government has sought to respond to areas we identified as critical and these measures should help prevent contraction in the renewables industry.”
The Association had also supported Lord Stern’s call for 20% of stimulus packages to be devoted to green investment.
“Although the new announcements in this budget move towards the 20% level, the UK is still failing the ‘Stern test’ overall,” said Mr Wolfe.
“We are allocating substantially less to sustainable energy during the global downturn than other countries and this will leave our world class renewables businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
“The additional £405m support for the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy may help bridge this gap, but there are so few details it is hard to know.”
Jeremy Leggett, executive chairman of Solarcentury had called for more green collar jobs from the Budget, he said: “This budget gets us on the road with a green new deal in the UK.
“In the context of significant tightening elsewhere in the budget, the sums made available for subsidies, loans, investment funds and capital allowances in energy efficiency and renewables can make a difference, and create many jobs. Industry and government now needs to pull together to execute. We have some catching up to do.”
Derry Newman chief executive Solarcentury added: “The Treasury is to be congratulated for recognising the important contribution that technologies such as solar PV can make to delivering a low carbon Britain.
“We look forward to working with the Department for Energy to ensure the current hiatus in solar PV support is lifted urgently.”
Comment and analysis is still flying in thick and fast but in the interests of preventing this article from getting unreadably long, we’ve moved the rest here.
How would you have done things differently? Share your views on the budget here
How did predictions measure up to reality? follow the link for earlier budget coverage.