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Osborne's 'missed opportunity' to back green growth

Industry bodies have accused the chancellor of missing opportunities for green growth in his Autumn Statement.

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Steve Lee said the green economy had been given “the cold shoulder” by George Osborne.

Lee expressed concerns over funding cuts at Defra and the chancellor’s “dedication to gas” which would throw further doubt on the Government’s commitment to renewables, including energy from waste.

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There was little mention of waste in the updated National Infrastructure Plan published alongside the Autumn Statement, said Lee. And while the implications of possible planning changes, including a review of the major infrastructure regime and changes to the appeals process, were not yet clear, he said he hoped the developments would help streamline planning for the sector.

He added: “All of these issues also impact on investor confidence, a critical factor for a sector that needs to deliver between £10bn and £20bn of new infrastructure by 2020.

Lee said it was also disappointing that future capitalisation of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) through borrowing would likely be constrained for a further year “given the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecasts that national debt will not start falling now until 2016-17”.

Michael Lunn, director of the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) trade body, which includes waste firms, said further delay to full capitalisation of the GIB was short-sighted. “The chancellor should acknowledge this as investment in the UK economy, not a cost”, he said.   

Lunn accused Osborne of missing the opportunities around the “green agenda”. The failure to eliminate the spending deficit by the end the Parliament would damage green growth, he said, and he called on ministers to work with the sector to agree a long-term environmental policy framework.

But he welcomed the chancellor’s retention of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and cash for UK Trade and Investment: “The EIC is particularly encouraged by the green opportunities emerging from China, Middle East and Africa to export our members’ services and technologies.”

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