The beginning of March was dominated by news of the budget, and what it means for energy and the environment. But lots more has been happening besides, including hydrogen-powered homes in Gateshead and the Treasury laying out its 'Build Back Better' strategy. Read on for key policy highlights:
The budget delivered by Rishi Sunak on 3rd March contained details of investment in green energy and innovative clean tech companies. Wind energy is a particular focus, with investment in new port infrastructure at Teesside and Humberside announced to support offshore wind, as well as a £20m competition to develop floating offshore wind demonstrators.
There are also plans for a new UK Infrastructure Bank to boost net zero investment and green savings bonds, which will be based in Leeds. This was announced alongside other key points such as the Treasury's 'Build Back Better' strategy, and the establishment of a new carbon markets working group, which will hope to position the UK and the City of London as the leading global market for high quality voluntary carbon offsets.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published statistics on waste managed by Local Authorities in 2019/20, which state that the household recycling rate was 45.5% in 2019, up from 44.7% in 2018. DEFRA has also approved the proposal for a Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) compliance fee.
Hydrogen is high on the agenda in the energy sector, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcing that the UK's first two homes containing appliances fuelled solely by hydrogen are to be built in Gateshead. In addition, the Scottish Energy Minister has made a statement on how Scotland can implement a hydrogen policy.
Ahead of the upcoming COP26 event, preparations have been scrutinised by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, with recommendations for the government, including the expansion of COP26's headline ambitions into a clear list of measures. Similarly, the Public Accounts Committee's report on 'Achieving Net Zero' recommends clearer reporting and communications.
Guidance has been published by the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, and The Water Services Regulation Authority, for water companies in England and Wales when creating their water resources management plans. The Environment Agency is also seeking to update its determination of water stressed areas in England.
The Prime Minister has announced the launch of a Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform, which aims to scope out and propose options for how the UK can take advantage of newfound regulatory freedom. In addition, BEIS has opened Phase 1 of the Industrial Emissions Transformation Fund, which provides funding for the deployment of industrial energy efficiency projects.
Veolia is set to become the first UK operator of Energy Recovery Facilities (ERF) to demonstrate the latest carbon capture technology with Carbon Clean, a global leader in low-cost carbon capture technology.
Plastic has become a hugely contentious issue in recent years, with more awareness being raised about the problem of plastic leakage into the environment.
As regulations and consumer attitudes are changing and increasingly favouring more sustainable packaging choices, now is the time to assess whether your business can modify its packaging accordingly.