Budget 2020: what are the green priorities?

Written by

Lewis Morgan

Posted on

March 12, 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his 2020 budget earlier this week, which lays out this year’s UK Government’s plans for tax and spending.

Section 6 of the budget “Green priorities and protecting the planet for the future” focuses on the government’s green plans, which have been both welcomed and criticised by environmentalists.

Whilst long-awaited green measures have been given the thumbs up, other plans such as expanding roads and freezing fuel duty have infuriated environmentalists. However, let’s focus on the positive outcomes of the 2020 budget:

  • Flood defence investment of a record £5.2 billion over six years will better protect 336,000 properties
  • £39 million in the Environment Agency’s network of water supply and water navigation assets
  • £500 million to support the rollout of super-fast electric vehicle charging network
  • £533 million to extend Plug-in Grant schemes for ultra-low emission vehicles to 2023.
  • Carbon Capture and Storage to be established in two sites to capture CO2 emissions before they are released into the atmosphere.
  • Launching a new £100m scheme to help households and small businesses invest in low carbon heating systems, and consulting on introducing a Green Gas Levy to increase biomethane production for the gas grid
  • A Green Heat Networks scheme to encourage new and existing heat networks to adopt low carbon heat sources, backed by £270 million funding.
  • £640m Nature for Climate Fund to plant more than 40 million trees and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland in England
  • Up to £25m to create the Nature Recovery Network in England
  • Tripling the Darwin Plus programme to £10 million a year, protecting unique wildlife in the UK Overseas Territories
  • £300m additional funding to improve air quality
  • £9.2 million funding package to introduce smart waste tracking and schemes to tackle fly-tipping more effectively
  • Ensuring the tax system incentivises users of polluting fuels like diesel to improve their energy efficiency by ensuring more businesses pay the standard rate of diesel, instead of the lower ‘red diesel’ rate

If all the above funding is used correctly, then the UK will be making great strides towards a greener future.

Key takeaways

There’s clearly a lot of takeaway from this year’s budget, but a couple of areas I’d like to highlight are electric vehicles and low carbon heating.

Electric vehicles

The injection of £500 million to support the roll out of super-fast electric vehicle charging network is much needed. Range anxiety remains the biggest concern for consumers who are considering purchasing an electric vehicle. Until the charging infrastructure in the UK improves, it’ll be difficult to encourage people to ditch their petrol/diesel cars and opt for a clean EV.

In addition to this funding, the £533 million to extend Plug-in Grant schemes for ultra-low emission vehicles to 2023 will certainly help too. Electric cars are becoming more affordable but they’re still far more expensive than their petrol/diesel counterparts. This funding will help bring the price down, thus encouraging more consumers to go electric.

Low carbon heating

The launch of a new £100m scheme to help households and small businesses invest in low carbon heating systems is also a much-desired initiative.

Low carbon heating is technology such as heat pumps and solar panels. This technology can be expensive to purchase and get installed, however once everything is up and running it’s a great way for homes and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint whilst also reducing energy bills.

Don’t wait on the government

Whilst this new funding is great for homes and businesses, there’s still an extraordinary amount that can be done to reduce this country’s carbon footprint.

In fact, many of the steps that can be taken won’t only benefit the planet, but they’ll benefit bank accounts too. Homes and businesses that reduce their energy & water usage would see a significant reduction in their utility bills.

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