Soundbites - Government announcements and the UK budget | 27th Mar 2012
Whilst the budget was unsurprisingly light on the green agenda there were a few things worth noting. Below are some soundbites from WSP's David Symons on both the budget and other recent Government announcements, most notably on the NPPF and CRC.
Carbon Reduction Commitment
"The changes announced today (27th March) are far from the bonfire of administration heralded in last week's budget. Instead of tinkering with CRC rules and heralding these as significant changes, the government would do better to really focus on how it can help and encourage businesses to reduce their energy bills. Government figures show that companies have spent large sums getting to grips with the new rules already, and that these administration costs will decline quite steeply in the future, even if the rules don't change. If the government does want to go further to reduce administration costs, similar but much simpler outcomes could be achieved by increasing levies on energy use and creating a league table from the introduction of mandatory carbon reporting" More on Business Green and Bloomberg.
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
"Including the UK's five principles of sustainable development in the NPPF makes the Government's planning policy much more joined up. The onus now falls on local authorities to take the initiative. They need to encourage local community and business interests to have their say, so that they can draft plans that achieve a sustainable economy whilst living within environmental limits and upholding a just society. There is still however the potential for undue emphasis on economic development since current guidance notes that 'while sustainable policy must respect all five principles, some policies will place more emphasis on certain principles than others'. The focus for local authorities therefore must be to keep all the elements in balance in their Local Plan and not pay lip service to the five principles nor place undue emphasis on just one." A more detailed briefing on the changes will follow shortly...In the meantime you can find more on Business Green.
On planning reforms and flooding
"One of the most significant areas of concern to WSP is the likelihood of much more development on flood plain. The Environmental Audit Committee told the Coalition of this last year, and also that scrapping key guidance, such as PPS25, would make the problem worse. Building on the flood plain is unwise, and so is building on an adjacent hillside, as the run-off can increase the risk of flash flooding. The changes to funding flood mitigation measures means that development in the floodplain could be more likely if a developer is willing to pay the premium as part of obtaining planning permission. We welcome red tape reduction, but expect to hear more from us on this topic." More in the Guardian and the Telegraph.
The Red Tape Challenge
"The Green Party would tell you the outcomes of the environmental Red Tape Challenge is a disaster for green protection. We'd disagree. Government is proposing removing some regulations which are out of date or which have disproportionate costs for what they achieve. Ask any business whether waste transfer notes really help avoid fly tipping, for example. Hardly the bonfire of regulation that Government is accused of."
Capital Allowances - Solar, Water & Energy
"The UK solar sector won't be pleased, they've already experienced unexpected cuts to subsidies and now they have another £300 million hit over the next five years as its capital allowances are restricted. This will make it harder for business to invest in renewables because companies won't be able to recoup their investment as quickly. However, businesses will welcome the increased funding of capital allowances for water and energy saving equipment." More on Bloomberg and Business Green.
The hosepipe ban
"The reality is that, even in the UK, business and householders will have to get much more involved in saving water, above and beyond the odd hosepipe ban. Water will almost certainly cost more, metering will be universal, tariffs will vary between seasons and you might find that water prices rise the more you use. We could see products that are manufactured in water-scarce regions, such as grapes, coffee and cotton, become more expensive in the UK, or even disappear from the supermarket shelf altogether." More in the Guardian, and you can get some water reducing tips here.
"We're all aware of troubles around FITs. It's certainly not great news but there is a temptation to think of photovoltaic as dead in the water. But the reality is it's still a viable investment because the cost of installation has fallen so much." More on FITs from Property Week
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