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Welsh Budget proposes boost for green funding

Words: Roger Milne
Funding for the environment / iStock-121271536

A key element of Wales’s draft budget for 2020/21, announced this week, is more than £140 million capital funding to support the government’s decarbonisation and environmental agenda.

Finance minister Rebecca Evans explained this would involve “investment in active travel and an electric bus fleet, new ways of building housing, enhancing our most ecologically important sites and the development of a National Forest to extend the full length of our country”.

“This package of investment is an important next step on our journey to a greener Wales.”

Active travel initiatives are to be bankrolled to the tune of £25 million, electric vehicle measures will benefit from £29 million, and air quality work in Cardiff and Caerphilly will receive nearly £8 million. National peatland restoration is set to benefit from an extra £1 million while funding for the national forest is to be boosted by £4.5 million.

Flooding and coastal erosion measures will receive an extra £64 million while an additional £15 million will be spent on the country’s 122 most ecologically important nature sites, the Natura 2000 Network.

Funding for Natural Resources Wales and the three national park authorities is also being increased.

The administration has found an extra £!75 million for housing projects, some of which is in the form of loans. The budget allocates £15 million of hypothecated capital funding to increasing the supply of housing. Total housing investment next year will top the £400 million mark.

The administration has also announced that there will be around £200 million extra as a result of the local government revenue and capital settlement next year.

The draft budget includes £14 million to provide around 14,000 square metres of high-quality employment floor space and £16 million to support the delivery of strategic tourism projects.

These commitments have been welcomed by the RTPI Cymru. The institute highlighted significant new funding for low-carbon transport and housing, as well as support to strengthen Wales’s natural environment.

RTPI Cymru also welcomed the announcement of an almost £200 million boost for local government, with core funding for local authorities growing to almost £4.5 billion.

Director Roisin Willmott said: “We support the commitment to a more preventative approach to housing, decarbonisation, poverty, infrastructure and biodiversity that the Welsh government has outlined in this budget.

“We particularly welcome the planned investment in local government and trust this will translate to a real increase in the budgets to support planning services – for too long planning services’ budgets have been reduced to precariously low levels.

“Planning services are essential to deliver many of the ambitions outlined in the budget including those to help fight climate change. We will continue to make the case for investing in planning services at both a local and national level."

The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has welcomed the budget but complained that the government still hadn’t comprehensively demonstrated “how spending is meeting the climate emergency and how across the board it is shifting its spend towards preventing problems from occurring rather than trying to fix them afterwards”.

Image credit | iStock