Trawling through the details of today’s spending review, Liberal Democrat concerns for the environment look to have got a pretty strong showing, with overall a 21% increase in environmental spending in cash terms during the spending review period. That makes the environment one of the areas to benefit most from the limited amounts of extra spending, and the initiatives include:
- A Green Investment Bank – heavily trailed, but going ahead with a capitalisation of £1 billion plus money from asset sales.
- Carbon Capture and Storage – at least £1 billion will go on funding a demonstration project.
- Tackling fuel poverty – the Green Deal is going ahead along with reforms to the obligations on energy companies so that every home gets proper insulation.
- Renewable Heat Incentive – aiming for a ten-fold increase in renewable heat and to generate a strong British industrial sector for this technology.
- Offshore wind power – as with Carbon Capture and Storage and Renewable Heat, there is to be support to build up a British industrial sector, including support for offshore wind manufacturing infrastructure at port sites.
- International action on climate change – £2.9bn committed for action on international climate finance, in line with the Copenhagen Accord.
There is plenty of other detail too, but the common themes are significant financial commitments and an emphasis on support industries that may generate new jobs.
The verdict of RenewableUK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries, has been favourable saying that, “given the range of cuts necessary to reduce the UK’s deficit, the part of the spending review dealing with renewable energy and the environment is credible and considered … While the status of the Marine Renewables Development Fund, which allocates funding for wave and tidal, is at this stage unclear, announcements on the Green Investment Bank, the continued support for the Renewable Obligation funding mechanism and the feed-in tariff, has reassured the industry that the Government remains committed to supporting the sector and reaching the 2020 targets on reducing carbon emissions.”
Overall Chris Huhne looks to have come out of the spending review with one of the most Liberal Democrat packages.