From The Independent: In a move that signals the end to system designed to encourage lower carbon motoring, George Osborne said the current system of discounting or waiving vehicle excise duty (VED) for greener vehicles “isn’t sustainable and it isn’t fair”.
From The Guardian: The government’s commitment to low-carbon technology has been called into question as it prepares to raise more than £1bn by selling a majority stake in the Green Investment Bank, the project that was a central promise in the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto.
Sajid Javid, the business secretary, will announce the plan at the bank’s annual review meeting on Thursday. The government is likely to keep a stake in the bank but could sell off as much as 70%.
The bank is likely to be valued at a small premium to its assets, or loans, which are currently about £2bn, suggesting that the Treasury could raise £1.4bn or more from the stake sale that will be used to pay off government debt.
The language, attributed to Cameron in the Sun newspaper by a senior Tory source, sparked a furious reaction from campaigners accusing the prime minister of abandoning his promise to run the greenest government ever.
Although Downing Street said it did not “recognise” the phrase as one used by the prime minister, Cameron’s team has not explicitly denied that he had ever referred to environmental policies as “green crap”.
The Sun quoted an unnamed source as saying: “The prime minister is going round Number 10 saying: ‘We have got to get rid of all this green crap’. He is totally focused on it. We used to say: ‘Vote blue, go green’, now it’s: ‘Vote blue, get real’.”
From The Guardian: George Osborne has infuriated environmentalists by announcing big tax breaks for the fracking industry in a bid to kickstart a shale gas revolution that could increase the UK’s carbon emissions.
The generous allowances were condemned by environmental groups worried about the chemicals used in fracking and fearful that burning more gas will make it impossible to hit carbon reduction targets designed to mitigate climate change.
It also comes after a survey showed that nearly 80% of those who were polled believed that the UK should reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
Lawrence Carter, a Greenpeace energy campaigner, said: “The chancellor is telling anyone who will listen that UK shale gas is set to be an economic miracle, yet he’s had to offer the industry sweetheart tax deals just to reassure them that fracking would be profitable.
From The Guardian: George Osborne loosed his most strident rhetoric yet against environmental regulation in his autumn statement, slamming green policies as a “burden” and a “ridiculous cost” to British businesses, in a fillip to the right wing of his party.
In a clear attempt to redirect the coalition’s green policies, the chancellor told parliament: “I am worried about the combined impact of the green policies adopted not just in Britain, but also by the European Union … if we burden [British businesses] with endless social and environmental goals – however worthy in their own right – then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer.”
Osborne gave £250m worth of assistance and rebates to the most energy-intensive companies, scrapped a planned rise in fuel duty, announced a massive road-building scheme and hinted at a watering down of regulations to protect British wildlife.
George Eaton writes in The New Statesman: Attempting to reduce more than 1,000 pages of English planning guidelines to just 50, the government has attracted the ire of the National Trust (which has over three and a half million members), the CPRE, Greenpeace and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, all of which warn that the reforms threaten the future of the countryside. The banally named Draft National Planning Policy Framework includes a reference to the need for “decision-takers at every level” to “assume that the default answer to the development proposal is ‘yes’.”