Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Green Energy Projects Get Pounds 1bn Cash Injection; REGIONAL ANALYSIS: Not Everyone Was Hit by Swingeing Cuts, Reports Adrian Pearson

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Green Energy Projects Get Pounds 1bn Cash Injection; REGIONAL ANALYSIS: Not Everyone Was Hit by Swingeing Cuts, Reports Adrian Pearson

Article excerpt

ENERGY experts last night claimed the North East was the region best placed to benefit from one of the few positive announcements in the Chancellor's Budget.

As city leaders look at further spending cuts and business bosses wonder if the much requested property tax cuts will ever materialise, the region's booming energy sector enjoyed a budget spending boost.

Mr Darling announced an extra pounds 1bn to help combat climate change by supporting low-carbon industries with pounds 525m for offshore wind projects over the next two years.

There will also be up to four locations across the country selected to pioneer so-called "clean coal" technology.

The North East has two strong contenders for carbon capture and storage and just missed out on the Government's previous selection round.

Mr Darling said he was using his Budget to "remove fiscal barriers so the North Sea can become a hub for energy of the future - gas storage, carbon capture and off-shore wind".

Blaydon MP Dave Anderson said he believed the North East was better placed than any other region to benefit from the budget announcements.

Mr Anderson, who sits on the House of Commons energy select committee, said: "I think it is ours for the grabbing..

We should be thought of by those in charge as the key regional player here, because we have everything we need to really make this our budget.

"We have huge potential with our universities and our manufacturing base to look at issues such as offshore wind energy and carbon capture and storage and be able to say we are leading the way.

"Without a doubt the Budget was about long-term jobs. And maybe I'm being a bit too optimistic here but I can also see the beginning of a long-term future for coal as well." As energy groups celebrate businesses will be preparing for a difficult 12 months.

A big issue on the region's wish list was the need for an end to empty property rates, which force businesses to hand over cash to the Treasury if they have an unused property.

James Ramsbotham, NECC chief executive, said: "The complete absence of any intention to scrap empty property rates is a sizeable foot on the brake of our economy. …

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