Chancellor George Osborne continued his government’s approach to energy policy, balancing funding and encouragement of new renewables projects while also continuing to support fossil fuels. Backing for the much vaunted Swansea Tidal Lagoon will be welcomed by green groups and reflects the Coalition’s ongoing support for innovative and technologically forward thinking green projects.
The same could also be said of the £60 million support for the West Midlands Energy Research Accelerator and the £100 million for new driverless vehicles, and even the reduced tax increases on electric cars.
However, the focus on fossil fuel based energy, with over £1 billion of support promised for oil and gas along with generous tax breaks, reflects the longer-term trend of the Coalition balancing support for both renewable and non-renewable sectors, and backing green projects for their economic and technological innovations more than their environmental credentials.
Many green groups complain that there has been greater funding and attention given to the non-renewable sector. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, pointed to the lack of mention of climate change or greenhouse emissions in the Chancellor’s speech and accused him of “climate vandalism” with regard to the oil tax cuts.
More specifically related to EST, this budget saw the phasing-out of the Landlord Energy Saving Allowance (LESA). We are sad to see LESA go but look forward to more energy efficiency assistance for the private rented sector both during and after the May election.
Overall this is a reassuring budget for energy efficiency and renewables, showing that even a government implementing austerity will not compromise funding for vital green initiatives.