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Spending review ‘undermines UK green vision’-Harrabin

November 26, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Harrabin is throwing his toys out the pram again!



The UK chancellor’s Spending Review has been accused of undermining the prime minister’s “green” vision by pushing ahead with a £27bn roads programme.

After several speeches in which Boris Johnson pledged to rescue the economy by “building back greener”, Rishi Sunak’s speech on Wednesday barely mentioned the climate.

He said he was pursuing the nation’s priorities.

Mr Sunak put detailed numbers on the PM’s recent green technology plan.

But he offered no increase on the £12bn Mr Johnson says the government has mobilised to tackle climate change – even though the sum is much less than what’s been agreed in France, Germany and others.

Environment groups are most angry at the roads programme. The chancellor said it would ease congestion, improve commute times and “keep travel arteries open.” It was essential, he said, because people are shunning public transport during the Covid-19 pandemic.


It is not the Spending Review which has “undermined” the green vision, it is harsh economic reality. (Not the Harrabin seems to have a clue what that is)

In fact, the PM’s 10-Point Plan made it obvious that the government could not commit to the barmy extremes demanded by Harrabin and his cronies.

Although it promised £12bn, this will be effectively spread over ten years, making it tiny in relative terms, a pump priming exercise more than anything.

So let’s take it apart step-by-step, and see what public spending it commits to:

Offshore Wind

£160m into modern ports and manufacturing infrastructure. Despite this, even the government admits that 40% of the content in offshore wind farms will be sourced from abroad.


£240m Hydrogen Fund, to encourage development of hydrogen production capacity.

The aim is to have 5GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, but this will need a further £4bn investment from the private sector. Even then, it will only provide a tiny fraction of the amount of hydrogen needed to supplant natural gas.


£385m for an Advanced Nuclear Fund and £215m investment in small nuclear reactors, to encourage development of new technologies.

Also £170m for R+D on Advanced Modular Reactors, and £40m for supply chains.

Zero Emission Vehicles

£1bn to support the electrification of UK vehicles and their supply chains, including developing “Gigafactories” in the UK.

£1.3bn to accelerate the roll out of charging infrastructure.

£582m for subsidising the purchase of EVs, which at £3500 each equates to 166,000 cars – enough to support EV sales for two years at the current rate, but absolutely irrelevant in overall terms.

£20m for HGV trials.

Public Transport & Cycling/Walking

Invest £5.0bn for public transport, cycling and walking schemes.


Aviation & Shipping

£15m for research into zero emission flight, and £20m for clean shipping technology

Greener Buildings

While the plan talks of energy efficiency and heat pumps, the only money actually committed is £1bn to extend measures such as the Green Homes Grant.

As I have pointed out already, the annual cost of installing the promised 600,000 heat pumps a year will be over £6bn. The cost of any meaningful insulation in homes and public buildings will be many times greater.

Clearly the government cannot afford such sums, which raises the question of who will pay the bill.

Carbon Storage

£1bn for a CCS Infrastructure Fund, which will provide industry with the certainty required to deploy CCUS at pace and at scale.

It is worth noting that the CCS pilot projects at Drax and Peterhead were going to be funded with £1bn. Both projects were abandoned.

It is not clear exactly what the government will get for this new £1bn, or whether CCS can even be made to work economically. But any large scale roll out will cost considerably more to set up, and will of course be hugely expensive to operate.

It is not immediately clear how this will “transform the UK’s industrial regions”, as claimed. It is more likely to be a millstone around its neck!

The Environment

£40m for the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

Green Finance and Innovation

£1bn for the new Zero Innovation Portfolio, further developing the green technologies for net zero.


As I said at the top, most of this is pump priming, attempting to draw in private investment and support research and innovation.

Some of it actually makes sense, such as support for the nuclear sector.

But it is really just fiddling around at the edges. If we are going to do all of things needed for Net Zero – electrification of transport and heat, roll out of hydrogen, energy efficiency, expansion of renewable energy, upgrading the electricity gris and so on – the cost will run into hundreds of billions and maybe even more.

Sooner or later, someone will have to pick up the bill.

  1. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 26, 2020 6:40 pm

    Ambrose/Guardian, oddly muddled/misleading?

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      November 26, 2020 9:32 pm

      Grauniad confused, effectively admitting there isn’t enough power without fossil fuels and saying shortfall is because its because its cold. And the wind ain’t blowing.

      Cold? Hardly. Its not even officially winter yet.

      As for the wind not blowing, well that’s why wind is unreliable and partly why it became an obsolete technology centuries ago. How on earth does the Grauniad think renewables could power the economy? As I pointed out to my MP today, maybe if they ramped up wind capacity by a factor 50x they might get close.

      But then with current subsidies running at £10 billion a year, I think the tax payer or the ‘leccy bill payer might notice that added cost. Hard to hide that much.

      • Mack permalink
        November 26, 2020 10:56 pm

        Regardless of seemingly bottomless taxpayer subsidies, you could ramp up 13th century technology in a 21st century economy by 50 times on what we’ve got already but still get a pretty piss poor result. If the wind isn’t blowing it doesn’t matter how many stationary turbines you have. 50 times diddly squat is still a very low number. Ditto battery operated vehicles: 19th century technology that was abandoned because something better and far more efficient came along. The notion that windmills, and EVs for that matter, somehow ‘help the planet’ in contrast to what we have already is an utter fallacy.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 26, 2020 6:57 pm

    CCS: 1Billon? After ploughing, and losing, tebd of millions on failed trials? And we thought fusion power was s long way out? It’s a two horse race!

  3. Joe Public permalink
    November 26, 2020 7:03 pm


    £240m Hydrogen Fund, to encourage development of hydrogen production capacity.

    The aim is to have 5GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030, but this will need a further £4bn investment from the private sector. Even then, it will only provide a tiny fraction of the amount of hydrogen needed to supplant natural gas.”

    For perspective.

    At this moment, Britain’s electricity demand is 43.173GW.

    Our gas demand is 136.6GW.

    [The Y-axis units are million cubic meters (mcm) per day. 1mcm is approx 11GWh. Current gas demand is at the rate of 298mcm/day i.e 136.6GW.


  4. November 26, 2020 7:06 pm

    And here’s me thinking that a green vision was something you saw at Halloween – On second thoughts…

  5. November 26, 2020 7:25 pm

    At the risk of endless repetition, ‘5GW of hydrogen production capacity by 2030’ is useless when wind speed is < 5 mph as it is now. But Harrabin's crowd don't get it, or don't want to.

    • November 26, 2020 7:26 pm

      Assuming they want ‘green hydrogen’.

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 26, 2020 7:57 pm

      Hi OB

      “Sizewell C seeks partners to develop Hydrogen and Direct Air Capture November 23, 2020

      Sizewell C is looking for commercial partners to help develop Hydrogen and Direct Air Capture (DAC) demonstrator projects linked to the proposed new nuclear power station in Suffolk.

      Two “Expression of Interest” (EOI) proposals are being issued today asking companies with relevant expertise to come forward to deliver each project.

      Hydrogen and DAC were highlighted in the Government’s recent 10 Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution as having a key role to play in reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

      Using spare low carbon heat from nuclear power generation can make hydrogen production and DAC significantly more efficient. The demonstrator projects are intended to lead to permanent larger-scale facilities connected to Sizewell C as part of a low carbon energy hub.”

  6. Devoncamel permalink
    November 26, 2020 10:20 pm

    All this money being thrown at the altar of Net Zero. None of it apart from, as you say Paul, nuclear makes any sense. Its like one of those investment scams planting truffles, or ostrich farms. Only the gullible will fall for it while the sensible investors will keep well clear.

  7. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 27, 2020 1:03 am

    Anything that undermines Harrabin is good news.

    I’m still checking out the detail behind the announcements the other day surrounding the next renewables auction – the bits that the papers don’t discuss, because they reveal awkwardness for one party or another. One is the evident discontent in government about the lack of green jobs that have been generated to date. It’s not doing what it says on the tin. Another is the reluctance of energy businesses to invest in serious storage: it seems they are only prepared to deal in short term balancing where the returns are more certain and frequent.

  8. Bill permalink
    November 27, 2020 8:20 am

    The French upping their game.

    France revolutionizes heating

    French new environmental regulations (RE 2020) prohibits installing gas heating in new housing, offices and educational buildings from next year

    And for collective housing from 2024

    • Joe Public permalink
      November 27, 2020 7:35 pm

      “The French upping their game.”

      Not really.

      Natural gas was only 16% of France’s primary energy (2019). Most of homes there are nuke-heated.

      It was 40% of UK’s, and ~80% of our households choose gas for heating

      • November 27, 2020 8:10 pm

        France has this fairly unique climate (in Europe anyway) where some parts need more energy in winter for heating, and others more power in summer for air con

        Helps to balance the grid!

  9. November 27, 2020 2:26 pm

    The UK chancellor’s Spending Review has been accused of undermining the prime minister’s “green” vision by pushing ahead with a £27bn roads programme.

    But cars will be electric so what’s the problem?

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