PUBLIC spending cuts could kill off the region's burgeoning green industries, experts warned yesterday.
The stark message from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – set up to advise the Government – comes amid fears that cuts of up to 40% in Whitehall budgets will hit the region’s lead in developing wind and electric car industries.
Nissan is pioneering the building of electric cars in Washington, while American company Clipper is part of the growing offshore wind power industry in the region.
The Journal’s Great North Revolution campaign has highlighted how the region can move ahead with new green industries and how they are vital to our future prosperity.
But the CCC has warned that without Government support, essential low-carbon technologies are likely to stall.
It said any reduction in the estimated £550m a year for green technology would make it more likely the UK would miss targets to cut carbon emissions and lose out on opportunities to create green jobs and industries.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced cuts of £34m to funding for low-carbon technology, as part of efforts to slash £6.2bn off central Government spending.
The CCC also urged ministers to increase funding over the next decade – once financial pressures have eased – for specific technologies such as marine energy and electric vehicles and for low-carbon innovation generally.
Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, said: “It is part of the nonsense of these Government cuts because more people will be unemployed and cost more to the public purse.
“At least with these proposals, we will get something back and save the planet.”
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the report should sound alarm bells.
“Renewable energy, electric cars and efficient homes can provide thousands of new jobs and real prosperity but only if investors know that this coalition is serious about sparking a low carbon industrial revolution,” he said.
The CCC report said the UK’s current spend on research, development and demonstration of low-carbon technology should be regarded as a minimum, despite funding for energy lagging behind other developed countries.
The report also added that the UK should deploy nuclear power.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said “targeted, focused and effective” investment in low-carbon industries would boost economic recovery with more than £150m spent this year.
A spokeswoman warned funding decisions had to be taken in the context of tackling the country’s deficit, but insisted the “right framework” to encourage private sector investment was being put in place.
THE North also faces spending cuts that will hit jobs, the arts and tourism.
It yesterday emerged that the hugely successful Passionate People, Passionate Places marketing campaign is under threat.
And while the renaissance in the region's cultural scene has boosted the economy, the Arts Council is also making cuts after its national budget was reduced by £19m. That is on top of the previous Labour Government demanding a £4m cut due to take effect in the same financial year.
Thousands of public sector jobs could also go.
Around one in three workers are employed by the state in the region.
But the coalition has promised help to offset the worst effects of cuts, including tax breaks for new North East firms and a £1bn regional growth fund.