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Next week’s Budget is likely to deal a further blow to Government promises to create jobs and tackle soaring fuel bills by building a clean economy and safeguarding our environment, Friends of the Earth warned today (Friday 16 March 2012).

The environment charity is urging the Prime Minister, who promised to lead the “greenest Government ever”, to ensure George Osborne keeps his pre-election pledge for “the Conservative Treasury to be in the lead of developing the low carbon economy and financing a green recovery”.

There are growing concerns that next week’s Budget will lead to:

• Little action on developing a clean, low-carbon economy
o The UK’s dependency on expensive fossil fuel imports has led to rocketing fuel bills. Developing the UK’s vast wind, wave and solar potential would create thousands of jobs and boost our energy security. But George Osborne has shown little enthusiasm for getting the UK off the fossil fuel hook – and recently inaccurately claimed that moves to boost a clean economy are responsible for driving up energy bills.

• A reduction in safeguards for wildlife and the countryside
o The results of Government reviews of planning and environmental regulations are expected to be announced alongside the Budget. This could pave the way for more building in the countryside and less protection for our wildlife. George Osborne recently told MPs he wanted to make sure that “gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats” were not putting “ridiculous costs” on firms – despite little, if any, evidence to back up this claim.

Friends of the Earth’s Policy and Campaigns Director Craig Bennett said:

“In opposition the Chancellor pledged to lead the fight to create new jobs and tackle soaring fuel bills – and keeping his promise to develop a clean future is the best way to fix our broken economy.

“We must free ourselves from the shackles of our reliance on costly fossil fuels by switching to clean British energy, which is the only way to give us affordable power in the long term.

“David Cameron’s silence on this issue is deafening – he must remind his Chancellor that the best way to build a strong economy is to build a clean economy.”

Responding to George Osborne’s stated intention to “make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like Habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses”, Craig Bennett added:

“There are many reasons why the economy is struggling, but measures to protect our precious wildlife sites are not one of them.”

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