Thoughts on the Budget
peter.shield at naturalchoicesmedia.com
Thu Mar 22 08:51:32 GMT 2007
Having ploughed my way through the 30 or so pages on the environment
I came up with this- I ahve to say I wasn't impressed, however I
would like to hear what others thought.
Brown's budget a lighter shade of Green 21.03.07
Gordon Brown's 11th budget held few surprises for the environment. It
continues Brown's theme of carrot and stick, encouraging `good'
behaviour rather than punishing `bad'.
>From an environmental side there has been some movement on transport,
fuel tax will rise 2p, delayed until October, another 2p in 2009 and
1.8 in 2009. On current prices this brings unleaded to 91.5p a litre
and diesel to 94.8p. The return of the fuel escaltor is good news,
the scandal was that it was pulled in the first place, now will the
Government have the bottle to stand firm to motorist pressure?
Vehicle Excise Duty, which ranks cars from A-G depending on their
size and increases slightly as the car gets bigger, has always been a
bit of a joke, a top efficiency car gets charged £50 a thirsty huge
sports lump £210 hardly a disincentive when according to the site
Carpage.co.uk a top of the range BMW X5 comes in at £49,980 and a VW
Toureg a cool £57,535. Brown announced today that the top range will
rise from £210 to £300 immediately and to £400 next year, whereas the
greener cars will see a decrease to £35. So someone thinking of
buying all toys equiped Toureg is faced with a huge price increase of
0.0015%, this year and a behaviour changing 0.0033% in 2008. Of
course higher parking, congestion, and of course fuel consumption
increases the cost of running large cars, particularly in London. To
make a major change in behaviour something a little meater would be
more appropriate, like £2,000 which would add 10% to the price of a
new short wheel based Landrover Defender.
After December's increase in the Air Passenger Duty the budget avoids
any responsibility for aviation. Commenting on the Conservative idea
of introducing VAT on flights Brown said, "I have investigated the
detail of this proposal. It gives me no pleasure to tell the House
that the substance of this measure has not been properly thought
It would apply only to domestic flights, business would be
able to claim back VAT, and even by 2020 it would save just 50,000
tonnes of carbon - less savings in one year than achieved by the
climate change levy in just one week. So I have rejected this
proposal in favour of the 6 million tonnes of carbon saving achieved
by the fairer and more environmentally efficient measures I have
outlined in the budget today."
6 million tonnes? Well that's a bit of a stretch as so much of the
proposals are more hot air than carbon saving. Running through the 30
pages of I can find a conference on carbon trading schemes, to
explore ways to get national and regional carbon trading schemes to
work together, a competition to develop a demonstration of a large
scale carbon capture and storage scheme (Isn't that one funded by
Brussels?), and a review, a joint on between the Department of
Transport and the Treasury on the effectiveness of low and no carbon
emitting transport to "de-carbonise" road transport, run by Professor
Julia King From Aston University, and former Director of Advanced
Engineering at Rolls Royce and Nick Stern.
There is a cut in tax on biofeuls by 20%, alongside a commitment to
investigate both their efficiency in reducing carbon emissions and
equally importantly their sustainability. The whole bio-fuels area
remains controversial, in reality it has more to do with energy
security than carbon reduction and the effects of palm oil
plantations in Asia, and ethanol production in Brazil give the whole
sector a dubious reputation.
On the domestic front there is a relief from stamp duty for new build
zero-carbon house below £500,000, and a £15,000 reduction for those
over- sounds good but how many zero-carbon houses have been built in
the UK and how many are being planned?
The Low Carbon Building Programme has had its fund raised by £6
million, demand is so high for this support for solar, wind, CHP and
other renewable that the monthly allocations usually are finished
within 45 minutes of the new months starting. The British home power
movement is way ahead of the Government and needs more active support
than a paltry 6 million.
The other nod towards home power generation was the exclusion of
income generated by selling power back to the grid, and any income
generated from the Renewable Obligation Certificates, and last but
not least a request to Ofgen to look at the revenue received by home
generators for excess. All sounds good until you look at the actual
Chris Goodall, in his recently released book, "How to live a low-
carbon life - an individual's guide to stopping climate change" has
the following calculations for a wind turbine plant on home in a
windy location- estimated ROC payments £168, total export payment £80
and that is based on the manufacturers production estimates, for a
Photovoltaic array of 12 square metres in a Southern location the ROC
revenue may be £72 and the export revenue another £24. Given the
costs of the system and their long term payback these figures
combined with the low level of government support means that even
with the tax breaks it still means that home / local generation is
powered by commitment and not by economics.
The push for insulation continues, with pensioners receiving grants
from £500-£4000 to improve the fuel efficiency of their homes. But of
those 3.7 million homes living in fuel poverty- 10% or more of income
going out on energy- who are not pensioners the Government proposes
no more help than waiting for their local supplier to call and keep
their fingers crossed.
>From an environmental point of view this budget, while making lots of
noise fails to make meaningful impacts on the key areas of aviation,
thirsty car use, home generation, fuel poverty, and public transport.
We await the passage of the Climate Change Bill to see if the
Government shows it is capable of dealing with climate change in a
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