Will ‘green’ budget deliver for industry?

Treasury sources have told the media that this year's budget will include a £500m boost to green spending - but what where will the funding go and will it be enough?

For many months one strand of Government rhetoric on reversing the gloomy financial forecasts has been the idea of the green recovery – working towards a low-carbon economy that would not only help secure jobs and income, but also help to soften the environmental crisis.

Areas likely to receive funding include electric vehicles, energy efficiency measures for homes and business and small-scale renewable energy projects.

Funding is also likely to be available to help ease progress of stalled large-scale energy projects.

Chancellor Alistair Darling is widely expected to give the budget a green tinge on Wednesday but, assuming the predictions are accurate, how far will the funding go.

According to the Green Party, not nearly far enough.

The party is calling for an extra £30bn in green spending, which it believes would lead to over 500,000 new jobs and economic growth to justify the spend.

The Green’s executive policy coordinator Brian Heatley said: “We would like to see this £30bn invested in insulating buildings, solar energy and other renewables, upgrading the electricity grid, public transport – but not electric cars – and green skills training.

“The UK can afford this. Most of this is investment, creating a return like energy savings, and it is OK to borrow to invest. And the new jobs will increase the tax take, and reduce money wasted on jobseekers allowance.”

The Tories, too, talk of £30bn – but for them it’s about unlocking private investment through policy incentives.

Speaking at the UK green Building council last week Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said the Conservatives were serious about plans to ‘kick start the green recovery’.

He outlined proposals for grants for energy efficiency measures, smart electricity metering in homes and a feed in tariff guaranteeing rates for surplus electricity produced by microgeneration.

He also called for more backing for carbon capture and storage, saying the UK had the expertise to be leading on the development of the technology.

Mr Osborne’s speech at the UKGBC can be viewed below.

Sam Bond

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