Osborne slammed for ‘gas obsession’

The Chancellor has received heavy criticism from environmental organisations following his autumn statement where he outlined plans to allow a new fleet of gas-fired power stations to be built across the UK.

Osborne also announced that he would launch a consultation on tax breaks for shale gas operators, and establish a new ‘office for fracking’ as a part of his gas strategy.

Speaking earlier today, the Chancellor’s proposals have shaken the green sector with environmental groups raising concerns over the Government’s ‘overreliance’ on gas.

Responding to the announcement, the UK’s Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “This reckless move, driven by ideology not evidence, risks locking the UK into an expensive polluting fossil fuel future – increasing our exposure to volatile gas prices and forcing controversial fracking developments onto communities before the full impact is understood”.

Head of energy policy at WWF-UK, Nick Molho, said: “The UK’s overreliance on gas is, environmentally and economically, highly risky. Gas price rises have driven people’s bills up in recent years so committing the UK to more gas seems to show a reckless disregard for both billpayers and the environmental impact of burning yet more fossil fuels”.

Others argued that the Chancellor’s economic and energy plans fail to respond to a world of inequality and the need to cut carbon.

MSP for Glasgow and Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie, said: “George Osborne continues to wage his war on reality, creating ever greater poverty and inequality in our society and backing the wrong fuel for our energy needs and climate targets.”

Osborne was also vilified for his proposals on setting a carbon price around the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) said: “The Chancellor’s statement on the CRC fails the business test for long term policy certainty. Setting a carbon price until 2016 for CRC is a step in the right direction in giving business an allowance price against which they can invest in energy efficiency. However, a further review planned for 2016 with the stated intent of removing the tax element undermines the ability for business to optimise investment for the long-term.”

“We still urgently need a long term, consistent policy framework to provide businesses with the confidence to invest in low carbon and energy efficient improvements. A further review in 2016 undermines this.”

Leigh Stringer

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