Does The Budget Help The Green Agenda?
Given the lack of support for the green agenda since the general election in 2015 and the uncertainties posed by Brexit, not many people expected a Budget that championed the drive to a green economy. In that respect, there is little to be surprised about, although some of the measures announced under the Budget are welcome.
Reforms to Levy Control Framework (LCF)
The LCF will not be extended beyond its current timetable and will be replaced by a more streamlined set of controls, details of which are to follow later in the year. The new controls will be designed to limit costs on energy bills in a more effective manner than the existing LCF. It is unclear what the new set of controls would bring in or what would be replaced under the existing framework. The operational details of the new framework have also not been explained. However, given the trend in recent years to reduce subsidies for renewable energy, it is unlikely that a new system will bring about growth in renewable energy development.
Innovation Funding Proposed for EVs and Robotics - Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF)
The new ISCF is being set up to support research, innovation and collaboration between UK businesses and its science base.
An initial funding of Â£270 million will be invested in 2017-18 to kick-start the development of disruptive technologies as part of the Â£23 billion national productivity investment fund (NPIF). These disruptive technologies will include development, design and manufacture of batteries that will power the next generation of electric vehicles. It would also promote projects focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics system for use in offshore and nuclear energy, among other industries.
While investment in electric vehicle and other innovation is welcome, it is disappointing that the government is not looking at bolder policies to accelerate the transition from conventional vehicles to electric vehicles.
Business Rate Revaluation
While some modest concessions were made concerning the 2017 business rates revaluation, no announcement was made specifically in relation to renewables. The solar industry, in particular, was hoping for relief from the significant rate rises that will now take place.
All-in-all, the conclusion to be drawn from the Budget is that there is not much new to complain about and not much to cheer about.