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Northern businesses lead calls for greater government renewables support

Osborne will reveal this year's Budget next Wednesday. Image: F&CO

Osborne will reveal this year's Budget next Wednesday. Image: F&CO

Businesses falling under George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ moniker have called upon the chancellor to extend greater support for renewable energy in next week’s Budget.

This year’s Budget will be unveiled next week and a coalition of more than 80 businesses from the north of the UK has said Osborne must back renewable power if the region is to grow as expected.

Osborne announced the so-called ‘Northern Powerhouse’ last March as part of plans to stimulate economic growth in major northern cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle.

The initiative has included plans such as the proposed High Speed 3 rail line, devolution of powers to Greater Manchester and greater funding for science and innovation projects, however businesses are now calling for renewable energy to fuel that drive.

Lobby group the Green Alliance has drafted a declaration co-signed by more than 80 community energy groups, NGOs, local councils and housing associations in the region which want the northern economy to “play a leading role” in the transition away from fossil fuels.

“The North is already designing, building and exporting the new low carbon products and services that the whole world wants and has committed to buy, from wind turbines to electric vehicles. Renewable energy, efficient homes and workplaces, and smart technologies will all support local jobs and businesses.

“And they enable communities to shape their own energy futures, as towns and villages across the North have done since Baywind in Cumbria, which was the UK’s first ever renewable energy co-operative.

“To make this vision real, the 2016 Budget must enable us to develop and grow renewables for our region into the 2020s. The UK government should be celebrating clean energy as core to its economic plan. To cherish what we love about our region and reassert our place in the forefront of the world’s economy, we ask the chancellor to back clean energy for the North,” the declaration reads.

Kate Chappell, executive member for the environment at Manchester City Council and of the declaration’s signatories, said: “As a city which was integral to the Industrial Revolution, we now see ourselves as being ideally placed to help lead the Clean Energy Revolution we need to see in the 21st century. Along with other great Northern cities, we have signed a pledge to move towards being exclusively powered by clean energy by 2050.

“And we will continue to develop the emerging Manchester Strategy, which explains our commitment to reducing the city's carbon footprint, including through the use of clean energy.”

Next week’s Budget announcement is not expected to include any major announcements pertaining to renewable energy, but is widely anticipated to disclose the make-up of a future carbon reporting and taxation mechanism that the government consulted on towards the end of last year.

There have not been any hints from the government as to what the future mechanism will look like, however it is expected that the taxation will be radically simplified with the Carbon Reduction Commitment likely to be axed.