The Government today have announced a 10 point plan for the UK transitioning to a greener economy.
The plan is positive but we need more detail from Government on how we will achieve these targets in the years ahead, a longer-term investment plan with a 10 year investment plan through to 2030 is needed to help businesses plan and to create a skills strategy around green jobs. The £4bn allocation announced today is a start but we will need to see further investment to make these targets a reality.
The plan includes the phasing out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 with a transition towards electric vehicles and investment in public transport and active travel. In terms of energy by 2030 the plan looks to quadruple the power produced by offshore wind , have five gigawatts of low carbon hydrogen production and remove 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through carbon capture technology. The Government have also offered support for research projects into zero emission planes and ships.
The Government have said that by 2023 all new homes will need to be warmed without using gas heating, there is also a target to install 600,000 heat pumps in homes every year by 2028.The green homes grant will also be extended for a year giving homeowners vouchers to help cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient.
Hydrogen and Offshore wind are key sectors for the North East, support to grow these sectors in the region will help the UK to reach our net zero targets as well as creating new jobs and allowing the North East to contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.
The North East can also play a key role in the transition away from petrol and diesel cars. To reach their target the Government have said they will invest £1.3bn investment in electric vehicle charging points, provide £582 million in grants for electric vehicle buyers and £500m for battery manufacture in the Midlands and North East England.
Investment in battery manufacturing in the North East along with investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is welcome. However, currently fewer than 1% of cars on UK roads are powered entirely by electricity, we will need a more detailed plan on the transition away from petrol and diesel cars including further investment in charging infrastructure and how to make electric vehicles affordable for buyers in order for targets to be reached. The £1.3 billion investment in charging points will not be enough to create a charging network across the UK, we will need longer term investment to make charging points accessible and enable people to transition to electric vehicles.
The Government also needs to work with the automotive industry on this transition, the North East has the potential to be a world leader in manufacturing electric vehicles but the automotive sector needs to be consulted and supported to help them take advantage of any new opportunities.
In terms of housing more funding is needed to create quality energy efficient housing. A recent report by IPPR and the Northern Housing consortium has recommended a 10 year investment plan from Government with an annual investment of £1.18bn investment in decarbonising the North’s social housing stock, this could create 77,000 direct jobs and help to reduce fuel poverty.
We also need to see how the planning system will work with the transition towards a greener economy, in order to reach these targets, there will need to be local support for changes.