The spending plans for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reveal ambitious five-year objectives for their £3.3bn and £2bn annual budgets. Their goals, detailing policy priorities for energy and environmental activity between 2015 and 2020, will address the challenges we face while taking chance of new opportunities as they arise.
Both departments continue to act proactively with Decc saying it will deliver “an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century” that offers value for money while helping families and businesses keep their bills as low as possible. Decc is also pressing forward with its international climate change action plan to protect the UK’s “long-term economic and national security”.
Decc has already highlighted key technology to advance its endeavours with its immediate focus on the adjustments it has made to its Renewables Obligation (RO) and Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) subsidy schemes. These form a key component of the range of measures the government claims will significantly cut the projected costs of its environmental commitment on the average annual household energy bill in the next couple of years.
Following a recommendation from Lord Oxburgh’s CCS Advisory Group, Decc’s plan states it’s going to explore its future approach while acknowledging the potential of government support on the development of offshore wind farms. It clarified this by adding that technology needs to move quickly and must be cost-competitive.
There’s “untapped potential” says Decc for energy savings across the business sector, highlighting new opportunities following the Business Energy Tax Review. Decc expects to cut energy costs and save carbon to free up resources for other priorities with £295m set aside to do so.
Standing in its way is cutting carbon from the UK’s heating supplies. £300m has been earmarked for local heat infrastructure projects between now and 2020 while an increase in funding will be freed for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Decc’s plan extends overseas as well as it continues to work with the EU on the development of the Energy Union with £2bn set aside to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change through the International Climate Fund.
Defra, on the other hand, wants to unlock the economic potential of the UK’s food and farming capability, championing the environment as it does so and helping communities to protect against floods, animal and plant diseases. Activity will seek to increase its natural capital while £2.3bn will be set aside to address flooding problems nationwide. A further £3bn will seek to enhance the English countryside under the Common Agricultural Policy while £100m will go towards a number of smaller, but no less significant, schemes such as restoring important peatland habitats, remediate contaminated land and increase woodland planting.