Chancellor unveils budget for 2020

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AFTER only 27 days in the office, MP Rishi Sunak introduced his Budget in the House of Commons, announcing the government’s tax and spending plans for the year ahead.

What does this mean in terms of energy and sustainability?

Manufacturing & business

  • New Plastic Packaging Tax will be introduced to tackle the scourge of plastic waste. From April 2022, manufacturers and importers will be charged £200 per tonne on packaging made of less than 30% recycled plastic
  • Pollution tax will be increased.
  • £800m will be invested to create two more carbon capture clusters

Climate Change

  • Climate change levy on electricity will be frozen while it will be increased on gas. The scheme will be extended for a further two years for most energy-intensive industries.

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Trade Association, commented after the budget was launched: “Unfortunately this Budget is thin on measures to tackle climate change and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Renewables are vital to reaching net zero, and without good policies in place to support the uptake of solar we will fall well short of the 40 gigawatts needed by 2030 to keep on track. Time is running out to act.”

“The freeze on the carbon price support rate is particularly disappointing, as is the lack of any meaningful policy on energy efficiency and green improvements for existing homes, such as solar and battery storage.

“We do welcome the decision to hold a review of business rates, which are the main barrier to the deployment of large rooftop PV.

“Additionally, we are pleased to see an extension to the Renewable Heat Incentive, and the introduction of a Low Carbon Heat Support Scheme which categorically must apply to solar heat technologies.”

Transport

  • £1bn to green transport
  • £500m to support the roll-out of new rapid charging hubs, so that drivers are never ‘more than 30 miles away from being able to charge up their car.’
  •  A ‘comprehensive package’ of tax and spend reforms to make it cheaper to buy zero or low emission cars, vans, motorbikes and taxis.
  • Diesel tax relief scrapped for most industries, not including agriculture, fishing, domestic heating and rail.

Nicola Shaw, UK Executive Director for National Grid, commented on the budget: “We welcome today’s Budget which makes key commitments on the areas of electric vehicle charging, and carbon capture and storage.

“It’s great to see that range anxiety has been recognised as a key blocker to the mass take-up of electric vehicles.

“We look forward to working with Government on their review of charging infrastructure along the full strategic road network.

“By investing today in the electricity infrastructure that will support the charging hubs of tomorrow, the government can help fast-track the take-up of EVs, cutting carbon and improving air quality for communities the length and breadth of the country.

“We welcome also the funding commitment for carbon capture and storage in multiple clusters, which is critical to the decarbonisation of Britain’s industrial heartlands.

“Deploying this technology and accelerating progress in the development of carbon transport and storage infrastructure will drive future growth in places like the Humber and help to preserve tens of thousands of jobs.”

 

Environment and wildlife

  • Doubling investment in flood defences over the next six years to £5.2bn protecting over 300,000 properties.
  •  £300m invested in tackling nitrogen dioxide emissions in towns and cities across England
  • Over the next five years, around 30,000 hectares of trees will be planted – that’s a forest larger than Birmingham – and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland.

Joan Edwards, Director of Public Affairs and Marine Conservation at The Wildlife Trusts, commented on the announcement: “We are facing two inextricably linked crises – the climate emergency and the massive decline of nature across the globe.

“The Government’s Budget has recognised that we cannot solve one crisis without tackling the other.

“The Nature for Climate fund could help restore vital habitats, such as peatlands and saltmarshes, which have huge potential to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as helping nature to recover.

“It is essential that this is done as part of a wider national Nature Recovery Network to restore ecosystems and give wildlife space to adapt and thrive.

“But for this to be a truly green budget, the Government must ensure new spending announced on road infrastructure does not come at the expense of nature.

“It is vitally important that we protect our remaining wild places – for the benefit of people and wildlife.”

This story will be updated as more details are received.