Chancellor to unveil £3bn investment in green schemes

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to unveil a £3bn investment in green schemes to generate jobs, upgrade buildings and safeguard the environment

The £3bn investment in green schemes aims to help the UK “build back greener” post-Covid and meet its target to reach net-zero by 2050.

The green investment is part of the government’s ‘New Deal’ to restart the UK economy.

As part of the deal, £1bn is anticipated to be set aside to decarbonise schools, hospitals and other public buildings so they meet green targets and are more energy efficient.

A further £50m will be set aside to retrofit social housing with heat pumps, insulation and double glazing.

Priority will also be given to the least energy efficient social housing in England, with the Treasury claiming the investment could reduce annual energy bills for tenants of these homes by around £200.

An additional £40m will be given to environmental charities and local authorities as part of a new scheme titled the ‘Green Jobs Challenge Fund’.

According to the Treasury, the £3bn funding will fund green schemes in a “drive to power up the nation’s workforce and protect the environment”.

‘More needs to be done’

Commenting on the announcement, Mathew Riley, managing director at Ramboll UK, said: “In order for the construction sector to truly change, a carrot and stick approach from the government will be required.

“The support packages announced for greening up existing public buildings and social housing will certainly incentivise a shift towards sustainability, but solid conditions must be set to ensure full commitment further down the line.

“Retrofitting existing building stock to become more energy efficient is undoubtedly a much-needed step towards achieving the net-zero carbon target of 2050, but more needs to be done.

“Carbon neutrality needs to be the main consideration for all infrastructure projects going forwards – not just for public and social buildings. If a project cannot prove that it is meeting low carbon criteria, it simply should not be given planning approval.

“The construction sector already has the talent and thinking to innovate solutions, but it needs the drive and commitment of clear government policy to turn this into definitive action.”

Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, commented: “Decarbonising our homes and buildings is essential to preventing runaway climate change.

“But right now, our leaky housing stock is fueling the climate emergency and disproportionately affecting countryside communities, many of which are suffering from widespread fuel poverty as well as extreme weather events. Today’s [7 July] announcement shows the government’s claims to be ‘building back greener’ are on shaky foundations.

“In the face of a colossal opportunity to restart the economy and tackle the climate emergency, the announcement of £1bn is a huge disappointment compared with the £9bn for energy efficiency schemes promised by Boris Johnson in the Conservative general election manifesto at the end of last year.

“What will kickstart the ‘building back greener’ agenda is much larger investment through a National Retrofit Strategy to tackle the issue of energy efficiency wholesale and head on.

“New housing must become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Our analysis of the government’s own energy performance certificate data for large new housing developments shows that nearly one in five (17%) of new developments perform very poorly on energy efficiency grounds.

“That’s why the government must go further and introduce the Future Homes Standard as soon as possible. Only then can the government start to make claims to be building back greener.”

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