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Archive for November, 2017

Autumn 2017 Budget

Have you noticed how reports that want to be seen to be greener than they perhaps are use green font for headings? For example in the Autumn 2017 Budget for the UK.

A budget that lumps housing and environment in the summary table does not give me much hope but I skimmed on cause curiosity never killed a cow…

Some interesting numbers about money:

  • per capita GDP predicted to go down
  • additional £3 billion for Brexit (doubt much, if any, will be about the environment)
  • Defra resource budget is £1.6 billion now (compared to £27.5 billion for defence, I can’t not add) and goes down to £1.5 billion over the next two years

Air quality – not enough but at least it has its own budget line. The same cannot be said of other environmental improvements.

Environmental tax – pages 37 and 38 are of interest: in case you don’t like what you read there, read on later on page 38 – alcohol duty is frozen – unless you are a fan of white cider! Let me be fairer: further work on reducing plastic waste is on the horizon and that’s a great development building on the success of the plastic bag tax.

Flood defence and energy investments are mentioned on page 52 as part of productivity. Good to protect people and property from flooding but not if we continue to build a huge amount of houses and reforms to planning permission system that are covered by the budget don’t mention the environmental impacts of house building or potential conflicts between various guidance documents at the local level (a point the Climate Change Committee recommended in their review of the National Adaptation Plan back in July but government rejected).

Unlikely to be intended but the support for long term investment could encourage pension funds investing in natural capital. “Hope is the bread of the poor” a Turkish proverb says.

It would have been good to see some mention of natural capital – at least in the context of local growth policies, given the natural capital pioneers, and given the Conservative Party’s commitment in their manifesto to the 25 Year Environment Plan.

There are commitments to R&D, and to ‘big data’ from previous years in the form of making more of the vast geospatial data the UK holds. These will make producing evidence easier, but will such evidence be used in decision making…. “Hope is the cake of the poor”…

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