Despite personal affiliations, it was with joy that the renewables sector welcomed the Conservatives to office in May 2010. The self-proclaimed ‘Greenest Government Ever’ had many ideas when it set up shop, including saving the greenbelt, increasing green jobs and reducing carbon emissions.
Although movements have been made to lower carbon emissions at least, as of November last year, according to The Independent, the Conservative party “has failed to deliver on more than a third of the pledges it made to improve the natural environment and has made ‘good progress’ on less than a fifth”.
It’s a saddening thing then that the Chancellor stated during today’s budget declaration that the government will chase “every drop of oil” and promote further investment in the North Sea. There will also be tax cuts for gas and fracking companies, especially worrying to Lincolnshire as French company Total are looking to invest more than £12 million in the business throughout the county.
Further to this, the carbon price floor will also be cut, which means good things for energy bills but bad things for carbon emissions. These will be less heavily taxed now in the run up to many fossil fuel power stations closing before 2020, so the country’s focus will be on cheap energy and fossil fuels.
A £3 billion compensation package to energy intensive industries will be offered, meaning they will not have to pay the cost for feed-in-tariffs or the renewables obligation. This is good news, however the renewable industry did maintain a hope that the Chancellor would invest further in green business growth.
Renewable energy companies will now have to take the incentive in climate change and offer up new, innovative ideas to reduce energy costs while benefitting the environment, and this onus will fall to households and SMEs too.
However, the budget isn’t all doom and gloom. I’m sure that people familiar with Lincolnshire’s roads will be celebrating the availability of £200 million to address potholes around the UK and that our county will benefit from the pot, which makes good news for anyone dodging the holes during a quick trip to the shops.
An additional £140 million has been offered to help with flood damage too, which will be of particular benefit to those in Boston. Tax cuts and grants to invest in 100,000 new apprentices across the country will also benefit the job market.
Cameron was quoted as saying, when taking his first walk around Whitehall, “there is a fourth minister in this department who cares passionately about this [the green] agenda and that is me, the prime minister… I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
With the 2014 Budget, the Conservatives seem to be drifting further from their original promises. There is still time for Cameron to turn his promises into action, I just hope that he chooses to do so. In the meantime, we must focus on the positive parts of the new budget and take it upon ourselves to invest in green energy wherever we can.