Cautious industry welcome for government's green plans

Mixed response in cautious industry welcome for the government’s plan for a green industrial revolution.

The industry has delivered a cautious welcome in a mixed response to the UK government’s ten-point-plan for a proposed green industrial revolution, with some leading figures welcoming the plans with open arms while others say the plans need to be much more ambitious to meet 2050 net zero targets.

Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said: “Today’s announcement offers positive steps on a number of fronts, but to ensure industry can plan for the long term these initiatives need to be set within a wider strategy that prepares our infrastructure for the challenges of tomorrow. We look forward to seeing a comprehensive National Infrastructure Strategy in the near future.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), said: “This ten-point plan is recognition that in order to meet society’s net zero aspirations, we need tangible action. We can only ‘build back better’ from Covid-19 if our growth is cleaner and greener. Proposals to turn London into a green financial centre are both welcome and necessary to supporting net zero ambitions, but giving local government the resilience and confidence to make carbon free investments is arguably more important.

“The positive announcements on carbon capture/storage, hydrogen, nuclear, and offshore wind are areas we championed in ACE's comprehensive spending review representation. However, doing all this in parallel, and at the same time as decarbonising our existing building stock, remains a huge challenge and we need to see the rapid implementation of these plans.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council, said: “If the government is to actually deliver on the 250,000 jobs from a green industrial revolution, it must use public money to unlock private sector investment, acting smarter to stimulate market growth by providing funding certainty well beyond the next financial year. This will give the industry the confidence to invest in their workforce, hire more staff and develop their supply chains.”

CECA director of external affairs MarieClaude Hemming welcomed the plans. She said: “This investment will not only help to level up the economy but will create high-skilled jobs across the UK. We hope this is the beginning of the uplift in investment the UK will need as we transition towards a net zero carbon future, and look forward to working with government at all levels to help deliver the green jobs and industries of the future.”

Chris Richards, ICE director of policy, said: "The commitments outlined in the government’s 10-point plan for tackling climate change are a step in the right direction for the UK meeting its ambitious net-zero emissions target by 2050. Yet today’s announcements do not spell out what the government’s overall plans are for joining-up efforts across departments to tackle climate change. A net-zero infrastructure plan that draws together policy and investment interventions in doing this is urgently required if the UK is to meet its commitments.” 

Simon Swan, director of future mobility at Arcadis, said: “It is particularly welcome to see the spotlight back on electric vehicles, especially as this is one of the most realistic and achievable areas of the ten point plan. The UK has already been making great strides in EV technology and infrastructure, but with a proposed ban on all new petrol and diesel vehicles scheduled for 2030, we only have ten years to deliver on what is an extremely ambitious schedule. In many cases it can take up to two years to build a public charging station. If we are to maintain the necessary momentum we need to overcome these challenges, starting with ensuring we have a quick and seamless planning process in place to enable carbon reduction priorities to run in parallel with the government’s ambition.”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “The UK government’s commitment to large, small and advanced nuclear as part of the future energy mix is an important pointer towards how we will achieve net zero. Low carbon technology working together – not being pitted against each other – is the right approach to take.”

Paul Tremble, chief strategy officer at WSP, said: “The £12bn underpinning the ten-point-plan for net zero is clearly welcome news. While today’s announcement still pales in comparison to the £1 trillion investment needed to deliver net zero and to lead by example on the international stage ahead of COP26, it is a step in the right direction.”

Rory O’Hagan, director at Assael Architecture, said: “The government has to ensure that homes are being powered by sustainable sources, but also that we are building energy efficient homes and retrofitting existing housing stock. By embracing offsite manufacturing and sustainable technologies we can significantly reduce the environmental impact of buildings, while creating thousands of green jobs in the process.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman of modular housing company ilke Homes, said: “The time for rhetoric is over and concrete action must now be taken to focus on building zero-carbon homes now to avoid costly retrofitting programmes in the future that taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for. The government’s green homes grant is already investing £2bn of taxpayers money this year, yet the dithering and delay over new-build standards is going to cost the taxpayer 30 times more. The government must now focus on scaling-up low-carbon technologies, such as air source heat pumps (ASHPs) and solar panels, and give its full backing to offsite manufacturing.”

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