Mixed feelings over renewables role in UK Budget

UK Chancellor George Osborne today said that “renewable energy will play a crucial part in Britain’s energy mix”.

Delivering his annual Budget speech to the House of Commons, he said he wants to see “investment in our world-leading energy sector, including renewables”.

But he added: “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 Budget also saw Osborne unveil tax breaks for the decommissioning of North Sea oil and gas assets and announce that a Green Investment Bank will be “open for business” next month.

Renewable trade organisations in the UK welcomed Osborne’s talk of a “crucial role” but were keen to demand action as well as words.

Jennifer Webber of RenewableUK said: “For the industry to live up to its job-creation potential, certainty is required. Multi-million pound decisions about UK investment are waiting on the results of the government’s Electricity Market Reform process. We urge the government to help deliver green growth by ensuring that this process is completed quickly.”

Meanwhile Gaynor Hartnell of the Renewable Energy Association was disappointed that Osborne offered no “significant additional measures to encourage investment in renewable energy, despite the Budget document making it clear that rising oil prices present a threat to economic recovery”.

She added: “It is short-termism in the extreme to hand out tax breaks to oil and gas because crude oil prices are soaring. Energy security demands that we invest in energy sources that won’t run out.

“We are concerned that this government is making the re-investment case for old technologies more strongly than it is embracing the future for renewable generation technologies.”


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