In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, George Osborne launched his latest attack on the environment.
“I have not shied away from supporting sensible steps to reduce this country’s dependency on volatile oil prices and reduce our carbon emissions. I am the Chancellor who funded the first ever Green Investment Bank and introduced a Carbon Floor Price. Our Green Deal will help people insulate their homes and cut their heating bills. But I am worried about the combined impact of the green policies adopted not just in Britain, but also by the European Union, on some of our heavy, energy-intensive industries. We are not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills, aluminium smelters and paper manufacturers. All we will be doing is exporting valuable jobs out of Britain.
So we will help them with the costs of the EU Trading Scheme and the carbon price floor, increase their climate change levy relief and reduce the impact of the Electricity Market Reforms on these businesses too. This amounts to £250 million package over the Parliament. And it will keep industry and jobs here in Britain.
It is a reminder to us all that we shouldn’t price British business out of the world economy. If we burden them with endless social and environmental goals – however worthy in their own right – then not only will we not achieve those goals, but the businesses will fail, jobs will be lost, and our country will be poorer.
Our planning reforms strike the right balance between protecting our countryside while permitting economic development that creates jobs.
But we need to go further to remove the lengthy delays and high costs of the current system, with new time limits on applications and new responsibilities for statutory consultees.
And we will make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like Habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses.
Planning laws need reform.”
It seems to me that the Chancellor is continuing with his anti-environmental rhetoric, that the environment is stopping the UK from competing on the global economic stage, and indeed making the EU an economic backwater.
His particularly colourful language about the Habitats Regulations suggests some personal trauma he suffered at the hands of a ravenous great crested newt, or possibly being gnawed by a hungry dormouse.
Is he seriously suggesting that the Habitats Regulations, and the protection they afford to birds, bats, newts, dormice and crayfish, a few very rare plants, plus the most threatened habitats in Europe, are to blame for the financial crisis we face?