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Don't cut green investment, warns business

Greenwise Staff
14th September 2010
Business and trade groups are warning the Coalition Government that it threatens to derail a green economic boom if it cuts spending on key infrastructure and renewable energy projects.
Thousands of green jobs and the UK's economic recovery will be put at risk if the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) next month cuts spending to UK port facilities and renewable energy incentive schemes, said renewable energy trade associations. The CBI, meanwhile, warned that cuts now to transport links, including rail, would only end up costing the country more later.

The warnings come amid speculation that the Severn Barrage, a £15 billion tidal energy project stretching across the Severn Estuary, will be one of the casualties of the CSR.

Green jobs at risk
Renewable UK, the renewable energy trade association, warned that 50,000 new green jobs could be lost if the axe falls on a £60 million port fund promised by the previous Government. Last week, it launched a national campaign to highlight the importance of investing in improvements to the UK's port facilities to enable wind turbine manufacturing in the UK. It said decisions on new port infrastructure must be taken in the next six to 12 months if the UK is to take advantage of the manufacturing and supply chain opportunities offered by the Round Three projects.

"This Government has pledged to be the greenest ever, committing itself to re-balancing the economy to create low carbon jobs and tackling the dual challenge of climate change and energy security. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become a world-leader in offshore wind but if we fail to capitalise on the lead we have in this sector, those jobs will be lost to rival countries already competing with us to attract offshore wind manufacturers," said Dr Gordon Edge, director of Policy at RenewableUK. 

"We are urging the Government to make the important distinction between current spending and investment, as the infrastructure spending will ultimately deliver mass employment and business benefits at a local and regional level. We are looking at 50,000 jobs in wind turbine and component manufacturing over the next decade." 

Renewable Heat Incentive
The Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) said adequate funding of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) must be confirmed urgently if the Government is to realise its commitment to "huge increase in energy from waste through anaerobic digestion" and the country is to benefit from the creation of of 35,000 new jobs. It has published a report that concludes the RHI must be funded at a higher level than the Feed-in Tariff if it is to stimulate the industry to deliver the "huge increase" committed to by the Government and enable the UK to meet its renewable energy and climate change targets.

Meanwhile, the CBI called on the Government to maintain investment in transport links, including rail, to ensure economic recovery. In a speech to businesses in the East of England, John Cridland, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said the UK already lagged well behind its competitors in its spending on infrastructure, such as roads and rail, and the economic case for targeted new infrastructure remained "robust".

"There needs to be a robust case for spending of any sort, and especially in the current fiscal climate," he said. "But just as we’re absolutely sure about the need to reduce the deficit, there’s also a certainty that failing to prioritise infrastructure spending in the CSR would be short-sighted in the extreme."

The CSR will be published on October 20 and will set out spending plans for the next five years.

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