Extra green funds for Defra in latest government spending round

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has been awarded an extra £100m of green funding as part of Chancellor Sajid Javid budget for next year.

£30m of the increase has been earmarked for action to improve UK air quality, with another £30m for biodiversity – including cash to expand the UK’s ‘Blue Belt’ marine protection scheme.

Questions have been raised around whether the funding would feed through to the Environment Agency, which has suffered heavy budget cuts.

Recently-published analysis by Unchecked.uksuggested a decline in the budgets and staff of enforcement agencies overseeing vital areas of public policy – including environmental protection – has created a dangerous “enforcement gap”.

Javid said an extra £432 million would also be allocated to Defra to ensure that Britain has “world leading environmental standards” post Brexit.

Despite the current political uncertainty, our climate emergency is not going away and will not wait for Brexit to be resolved

Mr Javid also pledged an extra £30 million towards decarbonisation schemes led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to help the UK meet its obligations to Net Zero by 2050.

More details of this scheme will be set out in a National Infrastructure Strategy this autumn – this is on top of £87 million to help developing countries reduce their carbon emissions and adapt to climate change – a potential opportunity to promote anaerobic digestion abroad.

Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia, said: “We welcome Government’s ambition through Defra to ensure the UK is at the forefront of environmental standards.

“Our sector are willing to invest £10 billion in recycling and waste infrastructure to future proof the UK to ensure we are self sufficient – this won’t cost the taxpayers a penny. Now is the time to show we are open for business and what we need Government to do is enable policy and the planning process to make this a reality.”

The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA)’s chief executiveCharlotte Morton said: “Despite the current political uncertainty, our climate emergency is not going away and will not wait for Brexit to be resolved. As such, it is good to see the Chancellor announcing additional funding to support decarbonisation efforts, new environmental standards and support for greener transportation in this one-year review.

However, we will need to see the detail behind these headline schemes to ensure the money is being well spent, and will continue our representations to key Government departments to ensure that anaerobic digestion and biogas are fully recognised as part of these new funding schemes.

“There can be no Net Zero without anaerobic digestion, given we can cut UK emissions by up to 5% with a readily-deployable and flexible technology. We therefore await the detail of these commitments, and will be putting forward the case for AD [anaerobic digestion] and biogas to be at the heart of them.“

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