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Extra £38M to boost renewables development

AN EXTRA £38M has been put up to help accelerate development of renewable energy technologies such as solar energy.

The money comes on top of £260M the government has already allocated to renewables, aimed at developing wind and tidal stream generating technologies.

The government is seeking ways to meet its Kyoto Protocol promise to cut carbon greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 2010 and carbon dioxide emissions to 20% below 1990 levels.

The Chancellor also announced an extra £1.5bn in overseas aid and said that this will be increased by 8.1% a year up to 2005-6 when the Department for International Development's (DfID) budget will be £4.6bn.

Though no details have been released of how much will be spent on infrastructure, DfID said it is aiming to provide 90% of its aid to low income countries, with £1bn going to Africa alone by 2005.

DFID will be pouring cash into reconstruction of Afghanistan, a spokesman said.

Funding for Regional Development Agencies set up by the government three years ago will rise by £84M in 2004-5 and £204M in 2005-6. The RDAs will be given 'considerable new influence' in transport, housing and planning.

An extra £1.4bn for housing is coupled with the announcement of Regional Housing Bodies that will 'bring together housing investment and planning and improve links with transport development'.

The government is expected to publish details of planning reforms on Thursday. This was expected to include a new Planning Incentive Grant under which local authorities would gain extra funding for their planning departments if they could show service improvements. Local authority bodies such as the County Surveyors Society had complained that councils do not have the resources to speed up the planning process.

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