Chancellor Alistair Darling announced a commitment to invest billions of pounds in green developments and new technologies in his budget statement today.
A £750m Strategic Investment Fund will provide financial support to emerging technologies, advanced manufacturing, digital and biotechnology.
“[The fund] will encourage exports, support inward investment, promote research and development and harness commercially our world-class science base,” said Darling.
The chancellor’s economic plans – which he dubbed the “world’s first ever carbon budget” – include a commitment to cut UK emissions by 34 per cent by 2020.
To achieve this, the government will give extra support of £435m for energy efficiency schemes for homes, firms and public buildings, £405m to encourage low-carbon energy and advanced green manufacturing, and £535m to fund offshore wind farms. Darling also revealed that the European Investment Bank will give £4bn to UK energy projects.
Darling added that the government would be encouraging the use of combined heat and power technology, which makes power plants more efficient by using the heat produced in the generation of power. Such projects will be exempt from the Climate Change Levy from 2013 – bringing forward £2.5bn in investment, he said.
The budget also included £10bn of funding for the communications sector, focused largely on extending broadband networks to all UK citizens.
“This will allow us to deliver the vision set out in the Digital Britain report – making sure everyone can benefit from this communications revolution and create thousands more skilled jobs,” said Darling.
On a more sombre note, Darling revealed that the number of UK citizens out of work rose by 74,000 last month, bringing the total to 4.5 per cent of the population.
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