Environmental groups in Scotland hit out at fossil fuel Phil’s Budget of green gloom

ENVIRONMENTAL groups have reacted with significant dismay over the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget announcements today.

There appeared to be little cheer for the renewables sector, a look again towards extending the North Sea oil industry, with drivers on the road arguably being denied any real incentives to switch to cleaner forms of transport.

It was claimed he also lacked detailed on those ideas that did get put forwards around plastic pollution.

Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland Dr Richard Dixon said there was “little green” in the entire statement.

He said: “The UK Government’s budget continues to encourage people to drive, fly and waste energy, and this budget will increase oil production and therefore climate emissions.

“Apart from some extra cash for electric vehicles and a small increase in cost for the most polluting diesel cars there is little green about this budget.”

On Air Pollution, he warned of the dangers that remain through inertia, adding: “Air pollution from traffic is causing a public health crisis in Scotland.

“The Budget measures to discourage sales of the most polluting diesel cars are a small step in the right direction but are not enough to get to the grips with the the scale of the problem.”

“It makes sense that the tax regime for diesels should reflect the extra financial and health harm that these vehicles have on society.”

“The Chancellor cannot ignore the climate impact of petrol cars and should also increase VED for new petrol cars. Combined with the extra cash for charging points, the signal on diesel vehicles measures could encourage people to make the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles but the freeze on fuel duty sends a very mixed message about when to switch to electric.”

He couldn’t hide disappointment either over the extra time being afforded to fossil fuels.

Dr Dixon said: ”The tax break for sales of oil fields is another subsidy aimed at extending the life of North Sea oil and gas production and will increase our climate emissions at a time when we need to rapidly moving away from fossil fuels.  If the Chancellor was serious about supporting workers currently dependent on the North Sea, he’d be planning to ensure that the transition to the new low carbon economy was inclusive of these people and their communities.”

He added: “It is particularly disappointing that there were no measures in the Budget to help encourage the renewables industry, with the UK Government’s energy policy still focused on the twin dead ends of nuclear power and fracking.”

And he accused him of doing nothing to tackle the scourge of plastic waste, going as far as to suggest he would pass the buck.

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He said: “The UK Government has promised to explore ways to reduce plastic pollution but there are no specific proposals to actually do anything yet.

“They have merely kicked the plastic bottle down the road, hoping someone else will deal with this enormous problem. ”

Keep Scotland Beautiful Chief Executive, Derek Robertson, also hit out.

He said: “Keep Scotland Beautiful welcomes the Chancellor’s commitment to investigating tax on single-use plastic.

“We are delighted that momentum is now building behind a move that has the potential to make a positive difference.

“However, we must recognise that this is only part of the solution of removing plastic from our litter stream – litter that is on our streets, beaches and landscapes.

“At Keep Scotland Beautiful, we are are clear that reducing the use of disposable products is a good start. However, we must encourage consumers to reduce their use of single use items and move to reusable products where possible.

“Much more needs to be done to encourage and support individuals to change their consumer behaviour. We urge government to consider doing more to support this transition.”

Dr Sam Gardner, Acting Head of Policy at WWF Scotland accused the government of sending mixed messages

They said: “It seems strikingly contradictory that only days after attending the UN climate conference in Bonn, the UK Government has announced a new way to encourage the exploration of more fossil fuels from the North Sea. Autumn

“While it’s true that the oil and gas industry will continue to be a major contributor to our economy for some time, now is the time to be setting out a clear plan to sensibly transition away from dirty fossil fuels.

“We need to see a just transition that enables us to harness the engineering skills currently deployed in the North Sea and apply them to supporting a range of cleaner forms of energy production.

 “To reduce the risk of dangerous global climate change, the vast majority of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground and not exploited.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read: Autumn Budget 2017 – Philip Hammond’s Speech

IMAGE CREDITS: cc Free-Photos

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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