The new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng delivered his first “mini-budget” today, setting out a raft of tax cuts and high borrowing that he hopes will kickstart growth and tackle the energy and cost-of-living crises.
One of the biggest measures for business was announced earlier this week: the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which provides a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for the next six months.
Measures aimed at increasing energy resilience included plans to relax planning policy for onshore wind, as well as speeding up the planning process for offshore wind projects. However, it also included plans to deliver over 100 new licenses for oil and gas, and an end to the pause on extracting reserves of shale.
Green business and industry leaders voiced disappointment with the lack of policies to drive energy-efficiency improvements.
Responding to the Statement, UKGBC’s Chief Executive, Julie Hirigoyen, said:
“Any new announcements on energy efficiency and reducing energy demand are entirely lacking in the Chancellor’s statement today, despite the country being in the grip of an energy and cost of living crisis. Instead of accelerating growth by boosting green industries to upgrade the nation’s homes and businesses, there’s a mere fig leaf of coverage to help address the poor quality of our building stock in the short term. The long term structural and financial plan required to address energy efficiency and high fuel bills in the longer term remains worryingly absent.”
RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said:
“Removing the block on onshore wind in England means we can generate significantly more cheap electricity for hard-pressed billpayers in areas where projects have local support. Once projects have planning permission they can be up and running within a year, so this technology offers us a great opportunity to tackle the cost of energy crisis.”
Green Party co-leader Adam Ramsay condemned the “cash bonanza for bankers, polluters and the wealthy”:
“People and the planet will pay a very high price for this economic and environmental vandalism.” Mr Ramsay also urged a “dramatic and immediate national programme of domestic and business insulation” to kick start a growth in green jobs reduce energy demand.
The Green Party also pointed out that UK homes lose three times as much heat as a home in Norway, despite Norway being much colder.
Calls for a greener recovery from business leaders
Yesterday (22 September 2022), Aldersgate Group launched its new “Green Line” Manifesto for the Prime Minister, with clear cut initiatives and pathways forward for a more sustainable future, both economically and environmentally.
In a statement, Aldersgate Group said: “In addition to the immediate support provided to households and businesses to cope with high energy costs, it is essential that the government responds to the current crisis by improving the long-term resilience of the UK’s energy system to ensure the UK is less exposed to geopolitical risks and volatile fossil fuel prices.”
The Group is calling for a twin track approach to reducing dependence on fossil fuels through accelerated investment in low cost, clean and homegrown renewables, and lowering energy demand across the economy through a nationwide energy efficiency retrofit programme, most urgently in homes and commercial buildings.