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Budget 2012: Green economy hopes dashed

George Osborne largely ignored the waste industry’s demands in a Budget which dashed fleeting hopes the sector could benefit if the Chancellor opted to use his annual statement to boost the green economy.

Osborne gave cursory mentions to the Green Investment Bank, which he confirmed would be “open for business next month” and renewable energy.

He said: “Renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain’s energy mix – but I will always be alert to the costs we are asking families and businesses to bear. Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too.”

The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management said it was “not the pro-green economy budget for which we might have hoped”.

Steve Lee CIWM

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee, right, added: “Despite the Chancellor’s broad commitment to developing the right infrastructure, it is also disappointing that measures to increase investor confidence in the waste sector, including a longer term plan for Landfill Tax and more detail on the remit and lending criteria of the Green Investment Bank, were not forthcoming.”

“While CIWM welcomes confirmation that packaging targets will increase between 2013 and 2017 we would like to see more support for UK-based recycling and reprocessing capacity.”

The Environmental Services Association said the lack of any investment incentivise for the sector, despite the chancellor’s rhetoric on the role of infrastructure investment in driving growth and jobs, was disappointing.

ESA director of policy, Matthew Farrow said: “We would have liked to see specific ‘green infrastructure allowances’ to incentivise investment in the sector as the loss of industrial building allowances has made some potential waste management investment less economically viable.” 

Farrow welcomed the chancellor’s commitment to make the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme “simpler” CRC but warned against axing it all together.

He said: “We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater by forgetting that the focus of the CRC must be to drive decarbonisation of the economy.”

George Osborne

The Budget was slammed by green campaigners as “the worst for the environment in recent memory” and a “polluters’ charter”.  

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: “This was a bad day for the environment. Support for British manufacturing, green jobs and greening the economy should have been the cornerstone of Osborne’s budget. Instead we got a polluters’ charter.

“The Chancellor performed a carbon-belching U-turn by supporting airport expansion in the south-east, before handing tax breaks to an oil industry that’s already making billions in profits and a cash bung to the very same oil industry to drill in our fragile seas.”

“There was scant support in today’s budget for the cutting-edge clean tech industries that are spearheading economic recovery in other countries, meaning we fall further behind the likes of Germany and miss out on billions in investment and tens of thousands of jobs.”

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