Self-proclaimed ‘greenest government’ fails key test in blizzard of wasteful cuts and missed opportunities

Today’s spending review has axed key green promises and programmes. The promised Green Investment Bank has been replaced by a merger of existing funds with less than a sixth of the originally proposed budget. A quarter of the £1billion promised has been made conditional on Scotland relinquishing funds already earmarked for investment in Scottish renewables under the fossil fuel levy.

£860m has been found for the proposed renewable heat incentive for small-scale projects such as ground-source heat pumps and £200m to upgrade ports critical for the go-ahead of factories supplying offshore renewables development. Up to £1bn has been set aside for a single demonstration project in carbon capture and storage.

Feed-in tariffs – the subsidy for small renewable projects such as solar panels on houses – are being reduced by £40m and the Warm Front home improvement and insulation programme to tackle fuel poverty is being slashed to be replaced with the ill defined ‘green deal’.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive Duncan McLaren said: “Far from being the ‘greenest government ever’ this administration is proving greyer than Major, and browner than Gordon. These cuts are shortsighted: they will increase future burdens on the state, and undermine potential for green growth.

“A green investment bank could have rapidly accelerated job-rich development in renewables and energy saving, levering in large amounts of private finance. Waiting 4 years to shuffle existing funds into a new body will do little to release this potential. The potential for green investment in Scotland to create jobs exists now: forcing Scotland to wait years more for the release of the fossil fuel levy monies is taking foolish and uncessary risks with the economy.

“In Germany state banks are funding both renewables development and a massive overhaul of housing, dramatically cutting energy demand, while creating jobs. Yet in this review, not only has the cash promised to the new bank been cut to the bone, so have existing programmes to improve housing such as ‘Warm Front’.

“We’re pleased to see funding for port upgrades to support the off-shore renewables industry – this must include essential upgrades at Scottish ports.

“The Government is right to fund CCS demonstration, but foolhardy to do so at the cost of programmes that would save energy far more cheaply than can be generated by CCS or nuclear power stations. The funding announced today is probably only adequate to fund one full-scale demonstration. We believe the Government should move swiftly to confirm Longannet as the site for the demonstration as that proposal would do more to cut emissions and allow swifter deployment than the alternative at Kingsnorth.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Friends of the Earth Scotland exists to help people in Scotland look after the planet for everyone’s future. We think globally and act locally in Scotland, delivering solutions to climate change by enabling and empowering people to take both individual and collective action. We offer help to people with the big things in life – helping to sustain a healthy society and environment. We believe that all of our children’s futures will be better because of what we do. www.foe-scotland.org.uk