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Thursday, 09 March 2017 12:50

Budget 2017 - reaction to green aspects (or lack of)

Missed opportunities and silence on green topics has been a common theme from the responses we've received about the Government's Budget 2017.

Budget response from Simon Ward, head of environment at Prova

budget 2017 SimonWard copy"The real message in government announcements can often be understood by absence, as opposed to the posturing and hyperbole at the dispatch box. Budget 2017 brought no direct mentions of climate change, air quality or energy, nor reference to the Emissions Reduction Plan. The 25-Year Environment Plan was also overlooked, as were the levels to which we will adhere to European environmental legislation in our post-Brexit world. All this in the same week, as the World Health Organization has said air pollution is "one of the most pernicious threats" facing global public health today, on scale much bigger than HIV or Ebola.

"At a time when greentech should be coming to the fore, oil & gas operators were given 'unprecedented support', via tax incentives. Furthermore, businesses who invested in solar panels to generate energy for their own use will still see hikes of up to 800%. The opportunity to push renewables and cleantech was not grasped, with worrying echoes of Trump's growing support for fossil fuels.

"There was a £270m investment to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies and £690m to tackle urban congestion, while the small print pointed to a spring air quality consultation. All welcome, if a little undercooked. However, the depth of dismay within the green business sector shouldn't be overplayed, as we've become accustomed to hope and anguish being replaced by resignation in a lack of green bite by successive Chancellors."

IEMA Response to Budget 2017: "A series of missed opportunities, but good news for technical skills"

Comment from IEMA's Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter following Chancellor Philip Hammond's Budget: "While we knew this wouldn't be a radical budget, it's really surprising how little space and funding the Chancellor dedicated to environment and sustainability. I could say it's disappointing, but in reality it means we've seen a number of missed opportunities for Government to tackle some big sustainability challenges.

"Scrapping the levy control framework without a clear plan of what will replace or supersede it is a real concern; failure to provide clarity will raise significant uncertainty for investment in renewable energy.

"Despite the many oversights, we do welcome the investment on tackling urban congestion as this can potentially underpin improvements to the UK's air quality - but this must be focused on areas suffering from the highest levels of pollution.

"The introduction of new T Level qualifications to boost uptake of technical skills is a positive move. This will open up new opportunities for young people who are seeking future-fit careers in STEM-related professions, and will contribute to the UK's low carbon economy."

UK Budget – a missed opportunity to revolutionise our economy and our environment

budget 2017 Trevor Hutchings copyResponding to the UK's last full Spring Budget Trevor Hutchings, Director of Advocacy at WWF, said: "This Budget was a missed opportunity to embrace the potential of green growth to boost our economy and protect our environment. The UK government could have used the Budget as a spring-board to generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs, create new market opportunities, improve UK competitiveness and productivity, and insulate the economy and businesses from growing risks of resource scarcity and climate change. We are already seeing the effect of poor environmental management in the UK from increased flooding through to air pollution. However the UK government failed to address the problems to our economy and environment, and left them for another day – when it may be too late."

£690 million to tackle urban congestion: "The £690 million to tackle urban congestion must be used to tackle air pollution and not fund more vehicles on the road. There must be a clear transition towards electric vehicles."

Disruptive technology announcement: "The Chancellor said that he would address market failures, but he has not addresses the biggest failure of all, that of climate change. The £270 million for disruptive technologies made available to scientists and researchers to develop hi-tech solutions to the challenges we are facing must be channelled into low carbon technology that will not only bolster the economy, but will help us achieve our carbon targets. There needs to be more investment in cutting edge green technologies, and those industries that can aid the low carbon sector such as batteries and smart energy systems."

"As new technologies and business models start to revolutionising the way countries deal with the increasing pressures of climate change, we cannot afford to sit by and let these opportunities pass us by."

Oil and gas announcement: "While our economy will continue to rely on oil and gas for some time to come, this should not mean that the UK fossil fuel industry should be handed even more in the way of tax-breaks and subsidies to keep drilling. The science is clear that the vast majority of known fossil fuels need to remain in the ground and not burned in order for us to rebalance our economy and make us fighting fit for the future. Any new incentives should be to support a just transition that enables us to harness the engineering skills currently deployed in the oil and gas industry to help revolutionise the green economy."

ESA welcomes Budget proposal to extend the scope of Landfill Tax to illegal disposals of waste

The Environmental Services Association (ESA), the voice for the UK's resource and waste management industry, welcomed the Government's proposal to extend the scope of Landfill Tax to illegal disposals of waste, made without the required permit or licence.

ESA's Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, said: "ESA is pleased that HM Treasury has listened to the industry and adopted measures already in place in Scotland and Wales to tax illegal deposits of waste. This will help punish the criminals who undermine legitimate operators in our industry and restrict the option of illegal dumping as a means of avoiding landfill tax.

"We are also pleased to see that the 2020 packaging recycling targets in the Budget are aligned with ESA's suggestions. In the absence of any real reform of the PRN system, higher targets send the right signals to the sector that the country wants to do better and recycle more packaging in the future."

ClientEarth reaction - Gaping hole in Budget where diesel measures should have been

budget 2017 james thorntonThe chancellor has failed to grasp the severity of the UK's air quality crisis. He should have imposed a first-year tax on diesel vehicles. Instead, he froze vehicle excise duty only for hauliers and HGVs and made no distinction between petrol and diesel cars, with Vehicle Excise Duty for all cars going up by inflation rates.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: "In today's budget the Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to tackle toxic air in the UK. A first-year charge for new diesels would have been a strong signal that this government has woken up to the public health crisis of air pollution. Despite being ordered twice by the courts to take urgent steps to tackle the country's air pollution crisis, it seems the Treasury has still not grasped the urgency of the situation. We fear that government plans, which are due out next month, may well fall short of what is needed. "

Hammond made no mention of the air quality crisis in the UK in his statement to MPs. The only mentions of the air pollution crisis were in the written budget documents released on the Treasury website: "The government is committed to improving air quality, and will consult on a detailed draft plan in the spring which will set out how the UK's air quality goals will be achieved. Alongside this, the government will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017."

A second mention declared intended spending on new technologies for electric vehicles.

Comment from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

Following the Budget announcement, Debbie Wood, Director of Professional Development for CIEH, said: "Investment to tackle local urban congestion and pinch-points on roads are welcome but where were the funds to really improve the UK's air quality?

"The Chancellor stressed that this budget was about investing in Britain's future. But when the moment came, he failed to remove Vehicle Excise Duty incentives for diesel fuels or introduce a scrappage scheme for older polluting diesel vehicles. We will look back at this as yet another opportunity missed by the Government to improve air quality for the benefit of future generations."

Chancellor neglects to mention silent killer - Leonie Cooper AM

budget 2017 Leonie Cooper copyReacting to the Chancellor's decision to not mention air quality in his Spring Budget, Leonie Cooper AM, Labour London Assembly's Spokesperson for the Environment, said: "It is nothing short of a disgrace that the Chancellor has not even mentioned the silent killer that is our polluted air.

"The evidence showing that diesel fumes are carcinogenic was published in 2012, and 5 years on it is hard to believe the government still isn't taking any effective action. Polluted air kills thousands of people every year, with around 10,000 deaths annually in London alone.

"The Chancellor talked about the importance of schools and care for the elderly, but neglected to mention that our toxic air is stopping school children's lungs developing and contributes to the elderly needing extra care in the first place.

"The Mayor of London is taking radical action to tackle our poisonous air – it is a disgrace that the government won't do the same."

Comment from Ecosurety on changes announced to packaging recycling business targets for 2018-20 announced in the Budget

The Government announced its decision to opt for a mixture of recycling targets, following a consultation on new packaging recycling business targets for 2018-20, for overall recovery and recycling and material-specific targets for paper, steel, aluminium and wood. Options included retaining current targets with zero increase up to 2020, implementing targets that will effectively create a transitioning step towards Circular Economy objectives achievable by 2020 and 2030, or set new intermediary targets between the above options that are less stretching, expect for aluminium and steel.

Comment from Robbie Staniforth, commercial manager at Ecosurety: "It's the first indication that we have received from Government that the environment is on the agenda, and we're pleased to see they've opted for a change.
“We're slightly surprised that they've opted for a mix of targets and our only concern is that big recycling jumps may create artificial spikes in PRN prices. As the years progress, it will be important to ensure these PRN revenues generated are directed to improving recycling in the UK. "

Silence from Chancellor leave rooftop solar facing unprecedented business rate hike

budget 2017 paul barwell copyThe STA (Solar Trade Association) say: 'Suppressing solar in the UK is no way to 'prepare for a global future'.

There was no announcement from the Chancellor to drop business rate hikes of up to 800% on organisations using their own rooftop solar. The STA is concerned for 44,000 solar microgenerators, who are currently exempt from business rates, and who face a nasty shock from April.

The tax hike comes as rooftop solar deployment is at a six year low. The STA has been pressing Government for nine months to drop the unfair rate hike, which does not reflect the increased rental value of properties.

CEO of the STA Paul Barwell said: "We are dismayed that responsible organisations that use their own rooftop solar are still facing an extreme business rate rise of up to 800% from April. Some fossil fuel technologies are already exempt from business rates, and today the Chancellor again took special care of oil and gas. It is surprising that the Treasury's tax policies tend to yesterday's technologies while putting clean, modern solar at a competitive disadvantage. The Chancellor says he wants the UK at the "cutting edge of the global economy"- his tax policies for energy risk the opposite."

The STA will continue to oppose the business rate rise and will now look to Parliament to support corrective action.

There was further disappointment that the long term price signals investors need through the Carbon Floor Price has been deferred to Autumn. Moreover, there was nothing in the Treasury announcement on replacing the LCF that gives desperately needed clarity to solar power which has been shut out from competitive access to wholesale markets. The UK's cheapest and most popular source of clean energy – solar - has been shut out of auctioning, meaning consumers pay more for decarbonisation and the immense competitive pressure that solar has provided has been removed from other technologies.

Paul Barwell said : "Government continues to cherry pick more expensive technologies while shutting solar out of competitive auctions, even as its industrial strategy prioritises cheap power. This means business and consumers pay over the odds for decarbonisation, and competitive pressure is weak.

"Suppressing solar in the UK is no way to 'prepare for a global future'. Solar already dominates clean energy investment globally and it is expected to expand dramatically. It is also set to be the cheapest source of power in the world so countries that embrace solar will have a competitive advantage."

British Plastics Federation (BPF) Director General Philip Law Comments on waste aspects in Chancellor's Budget Announcement

"In the waste area, there are some contradictory messages. On one hand, we see a substantial increase in the recycling targets for packaging, but on the other hand the value of landfill tax only slightly increased. We would have liked to see a more coherent and ambitious approach by higher increases of the landfill tax to further incentivise the recycling of our plastics back into new valuable products."

Statement from FCC Environment, one of the UK's largest waste and resource management companies

budget 2017 paul taylorResponding to the Budget proposals, Paul Taylor, CEO of FCC Environment, said: "While it is encouraging to see the Government pledge its ongoing support for UK infrastructure projects, we feel that a major opportunity has been missed to set out plans to maximise the resource productivity of the UK economy – a central pillar of the Industrial Strategy.

"At present, UK waste management companies are paying to export waste out of our country for incineration, which other countries use to make fuel to power homes and businesses – which is simply not sustainable. Following Brexit, we now have the chance to define our own approach to waste and resource policy, away from EU environmental diktats which could cost UK businesses an additional £2bn over the next 20 years. We would welcome clarity on future recycling policy direction"

"We urgently need a commitment from Government to further invest in our domestic waste management infrastructure, which will not only mean that we can manage our waste more efficiently, but also better safeguard the UK's long-term energy security."