Budget boost for green industry
In today’s Budget, the Government took a further step towards supporting strategic industrial sectors. Many of those sectors will be ‘green’, both because there is a huge future in those sectors and because it is simply the right thing to do.
Central to this development is the £2bn Green Investment Bank, operating on a commercial basis and involving public and private sector capital. The GIB’s mandate will be to invest in the low carbon sector, considering new energy and transport projects in particular, and focusing initially on offshore wind generation.
The TUC had called for a £5bn strategic investment fund, taking minority stakes in strategic companies, in pursuit of long term growth and competitiveness. We didn’t get everything we wanted – but this is a very important step in the right direction. Surely the days of laissez faire industrial policy, when only the “market” decided what was in the country’s economic interests, are well and truly behind us?
This announcement comes after the £20.7m investment to support Nissan’s development of electric battery and car production, which wll support 550 high skilled engineering jobs. Ford has also been supported with a £1.55 billion loan guarantee to developer greener engine and vehicle technology.
Another key announcement today was up to £60m for the development of port sites, to meet the needs of offshore wind turbine manufacturers looking to locate new facilities in the UK. This will help secure investment for offshore wind in the UK, and support jobs in the wind energy sector and its supply chain.
I see a theme developing here. Following ‘New Industry, New Jobs’ and then ‘Going for Growth’, the Government is becoming more and more committed to developing those industries, including in the ‘green’ sector, that are vital to the UK’s prosperity in the globalised economy. This approach came later than we would have liked, but we are glad it is here at last.