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WWF Budget 2012 reaction

Responding to yesterday’s Budget, WWF said that the Government was ‘backing the wrong horses’ for economic recovery.

WWF expressed concern over George Osborne’s willingness to support high-carbon sections of the economy such as roads, airports, and the oil and gas industry whilst failing to provide strong support for the green economy.

Commenting, David Nussbaum chief executive WWF-UK said: “The Chancellor’s mantra that we can only achieve growth by tearing up planning rules and backing new roads, airports, and draining every last drop of our oil and gas reserves is deeply worrying.

“The Chancellor began by saying that 'there is no other road to recovery' - illustrating a blinkered Treasury mentality of investing in yesterday's technology at the expense of the clean, green ones available through a green economic recovery. From his speech, you’d think the only emissions he’s keen on tackling are those from smokers.”

Aviation

Commenting on the Chancellor’s comments that the UK needs to ‘confront the lack of airport capacity’ in the South East of England, Jean Leston, senior transport policy advisor, WWF-UK said: "It's good that the Government isn't letting aviation off the hook in terms of APD. But the Government's commitment to reducing aviation emissions is crashing and burning.

“They are now pushing for airport expansion in the Southeast, which is completely at odds with the coalition's promise not to build new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. Aviation was one of the few remaining policy areas where the Government could claim to have green credentials. But not any longer."

Energy

Jenny Banks, energy policy officer, WWF-UK said: “We all want to attract business to Britain and the UK desperately needs investment, jobs and growth, but today, the Chancellor chose tax breaks for a dying industry with no long term prospects.

“George Osborne is bending over backward to appease the dirty, carbon emitting technologies of yesterday. He seems to be desperate to squeeze every last drop of oil from the North Sea rather than wholeheartedly backing the industrial opportunities of the UK’s huge renewable resource.”

Planning

Emmalene Gottwald, senior planning advisor, WWF-UK said: “We won't know the full force of the final NPPF until next Tuesday, but the Government remains hell bent on ruining the planning system by prioritising short-term economic interests. It also sounds like no transitional provisions are intended, which means Local Authorities will be thrown in at the deep end and expected to float and survive with minimal support.

“The Government says it wants to work with key stakeholders to deliver sustainable development, but without a clear and meaningful definition this seems to be simply passing the buck.”

Red tape challenge

The Government has already announced the results of the Environment Theme of the Red Tape Challenge.

Responding, Carol Day, solicitor, WWF-UK said: "The Red Tape Challenge suggests that the Habitats Directive Regulations were a 'burden on business', but when we asked Defra we were told that the review received no submissions to substantiate that point and found no evidence of delays to decision-making or gold-plating. It is therefore puzzling, in the least, to see that reference.

"It is too early to give a definitive answer on whether this shake up will leave the UK's precious habitats and species more vulnerable or not. What is still not clear however is precisely what problem this exercise was supposed to be solving. We have yet to see anything that demonstrates that these regulations were a burden to business"

For further information, please contact:
George Smeeton, Tel: 01483 412 388, Mob: 07917 052 948, email:
GSmeeton@wwf.org.uk