Chancellor Philip Hammond used his Spring Statement to announce new funding for a range of green initiatives to support clean economic growth.
Amid the turmoil that is Brexit, the Chancellor sought to reassure MPs that the economy is “remarkably robust” and after nine consecutive years of growth and unexpected rise in tax receipts, there was money in the kitty to support further action on climate change, environmental protection and strengthening the Clean Growth Strategy, promoted by Business Secretary Greg Clark.
Speaking to a packed House of Commons, the Chancellor said: “With the challenge of shaping the carbon neutral economy of the future, we must apply the creativity of the marketplace to deliver solutions to one of the most complex problems of our time — climate change, and build sustainability into the heart of our economic model.”
A new “Future Homes Standard” will be introduced by 2025, which Hammond says will future-proof new build homes with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. The Treasury says the new standard will mandate “the end of fossil fuel heating systems in all new houses” and boast “world-leading levels of energy efficiency” in a bid to lower carbon emissions and reduce energy bills.
This initiative reverses earlier Treasury decisions, under former Chancellor George Osborne, that led to the scrapping of the Government’s “Zero Carbon Homes”. The chancellor also announced plans to raise housing supply to its highest level since 1970 and to reach 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
The Government has launched a call for evidence on whether to launch a scheme to support businesses on improving their energy efficiency, although the plans are still only at the early stages of development. Hammond said the measures would help “build sustainability into the heart of our economic model”.
The Spring Statement also includes plans to “Green the Gas Grid” to accelerate the decarbonisation of UK gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid, which Hammond says will reduce our dependence on burning natural gas. The Government will consult on the appropriate mechanism to deliver this commitment later this year.
The package of green initiatives included in the Spring Budget includes proposals that will require developers to add to biodiversity when undertaking new housing and infrastructure projects, to ensure “that delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing is not at the expense of vital biodiversity.”
There will also be a review on the economics of biodiversity, to assess the economic value of biodiversity and to identify actions that will simultaneously enhance biodiversity and deliver economic prosperity. The review will report ahead of the COP15 summit on biodiversity in October 2020.
Last reviewed 15 March 2019