Green campaigners have reacted angrily to the Chancellor’s backing for fossil fuels, which included £3 billion in support for new drilling in the North Sea.
George Osborne gave qualified support to renewables in the Budget, describing them as a “crucial part of the UK’s energy mix” but insisted he would remain alert to the costs they added to families’ fuel bills.
“Environmentally sustainable has to be fiscally sustainable too,” he said.
But he gave strong backing to gas, which he said was cheap and cleaner than coal, and would remain the UK’s single biggest source of energy for decades.
And he said: “I also want to ensure we extract the greatest possible amount of oil and gas from our reserves in the North Sea.”
Birmingham Friends of the Earth campaigner Joe Peacock said he was disappointed with the Budget.
He said: “This Budget offers no hope of building a sustainable economy for the future, but locks us into reliance on spiralling fossil fuel prices that will exacerbate the problems with fuel and transport poverty we already have.
“It sticks two fingers up at David Cameron’s promise to build a clean future – and gives a massive thumbs down to new jobs and cutting our reliance on expensive gas and oil.
“Instead of putting more money into supporting projects like Birmingham Energy Savers to deal with fuel poverty and give people control over generating their own energy, the chancellor has chosen to subsidise environmentally damaging oil and gas exploration, focus on building more roads and expanding airports.
“The West Midlands wants to play a leading role in the transition to a low carbon economy, but business leaders are sick of the Chancellor’s Jekyll and Hyde routine on developing this – and other countries are leaving us trailing.”
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director Andy Atkins said: “The few green crumbs of comfort offered by Mr Osborne will be completely swept away by a package of policies that make this a Black Wednesday for the environment.”