EIC says Budget is missed opportunity

The Environmental Industries Commission has branded yesterday’s Budget a “missed opportunity” for the UK’s environmental industry. Danny Stevens, Policy Director of EIC, the lead trade association for the UK’s environmental […]

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By Kelvin Ross

The Environmental Industries Commission has branded yesterday’s Budget a “missed opportunity” for the UK’s environmental industry.

Danny Stevens, Policy Director of EIC, the lead trade association for the UK’s environmental technology and services industry, said he had hoped Chancellor George Osborne would “lay the foundation for low carbon and sustainable economic growth, driving investment in new high growth green businesses, helping to create new jobs and putting the UK at the forefront of a £3 trillion global market place for environmental goods and services”.

However Mr Stevens said the government’s reductions in public spending and the urgency with which it has committed to tackling the budget deficit have severely restricted the tools the Treasury had at its disposal to drive investment in green industries.

“Even so,” added Mr Stevens, “the Chancellor sidestepped the most effective tool he has: using the tax regime to put an effective price on pollution.

“By failing to translate environmental damage into immediate price signals, [the] Budget simply reinforces the huge market failure that continues to allow the exploitation of our environment free of charge. Cost of pollution is borne by the British public, not by the polluter.

Mr Stevens welcomed the chancellor’s pledge to accelerate plans for a Green Investment Bank, but added that “there is a risk that the bank will institutionalise a narrow understanding of the economic opportunities of ‘green investment’.

“If the government limits the bank’s mandate to helping the ‘UK meet the low-carbon investment challenge’, the UK risks forfeiting the huge investment opportunities that exist across the whole of the environmental sector.”