UK boosts spending on environment

Government pledges money to cut greenhouse gases, raise energy efficiency, waste recycling

Big increases in spending on the environment were announced yesterday by the UK finance ministry as part of a comprehensive governmental spending review. A ten-year transport plan to be formally launched tomorrow was also trailed by finance minister Gordon Brown.

Spending across all government ministries is set to rise by more than 5% per year over the next three years under Mr Brown's plan, which is being seen as a starting pistol for the next national elections, due by 2002. The environment ministry is to get far more than this, with a 15% annual increase in real terms due over the three years to 2003-4.

Targets of the extra environmental spending include achievement of a "step change" in waste recycling through extra money for local authorities and a reduction in fuel poverty through extra energy efficiency assistance to poorer households. Several measures are aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, including more funds for renewable energy, an energy efficiency advice service for businesses, and incentives for companies to join a national emissions trading scheme.

Several specific environmental targets have also been set, in the form of "public service agreements" between the environment and finance ministries. At least 17% of household waste should be recycled or composted by 2004, the government said. Energy efficiency should be improved in 600,000 homes between next April and the end of March 2004. In addition, 95% of nationally important wildlife sites should be brought into a "favourable condition" by 2010.

Follow Up:
UK finance ministry, tel: +44 20 72 70 50 00, and extensive background on the 2000 spending review.

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