Autumn Statement report - Chancellor ‘Must do better’, says Jes Rutter, JRP Managing Director

On the same day the met office announced that man-made climate change is probably responsible for Britain experiencing the warmest year since records began, ‘Must do better’ would be my summing up of this Autumn Statement which contained very little on the subject of energy and the green agenda that was new and hence was a big missed opportunity.

Posted on 04 December 2014.

Though some businesses are being proactive in reducing their energy consumption, the majority are not! This is why Government need to put in place a clear long-term strategy for sustainability, for example to incentivise and encourage businesses to substantially reduce energy consumption by better demand side management. Tweaking around the edges is disappointing from the so-called 'Greenest Government Ever'! Is there really a grasp of the opportunity, the need or even what is at stake?

So what did the Chancellor announce that is of interest to those of us working to reduce the impact of fossil fuels on our environment?

  • A continued freeze of the fuel duty escalator.
  • Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England will be set up, obtaining its funds from shale gas proceeds. This included a commitment to a massive, quarter of a billion investment in a new Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced material science in Manchester, with branches in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.
  • A new £5 million fund to provide independent evidence directly to the public about the robustness of the existing shale gas regulatory regime to ensure the public is better engaged in the regulatory process.
  • £31 million to create world class sub-surface research test centres through the Natural Environment Research Council. The aim is to establish world leading knowledge which will be applicable to a wide range of energy technologies including shale gas and carbon capture and storage.
  • New tax allowances for North Sea Oil exploration to be announced on Thursday by Danny Alexander in Aberdeen but will include a 2% reduction in the rate of the Supplementary Charge, from 32% to 30% and will take effect on 1 January 2015.
  • A feasibility study to establish whether a tidal lagoon project at Swansea Bay is affordable; if the project progresses, it could become the first tidal lagoon project in the world.

As JRP continue to innovate and invest 25% of its revenues into R&D it was pleasing to see the Government announce an increase in R&D tax credit to 230% for small businesses (11% for large enterprises). The UK is now second in the Global Innovation Index.