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George Osborne urged to “Keep It Clean”

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Ahead of next week’s Budget, more than 70 organisations from across northern England have called on the Chancellor to ‘Keep it clean’ and back renewable energy for the North.

Keep It Clean
The declaration was launched with an interactive art installation in Piccadilly Gardens commissioned by the environmental charities Green Alliance and 10:10. It raised the question, what will power this powerhouse? The answer: ‘Keep it Clean’, spelled out in one-metre-high letters, which lit up when people held hands to connect the electric current (see photo above).

The signatories to the declaration ranged from campaign groups like Manchester Friends of the Earth to public bodies such as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, to communities investing in their own small-scale renewable projects, to business groups, faith groups and nature conservation organisations.

In our message to the Chancellor, George Osborne, we say:

“The future we want is one with clean air, healthy people and resilient communities … To make this vision real, the 2016 Budget must enable us to develop and grow renewables for our region into the 2020s.  The UK government should be celebrating clean energy as core to its economic plan. To cherish what we love about our region and reassert our place in the forefront of the world’s economy, we ask the Chancellor to back clean energy for the North.”

As well as recognising that renewables are the most popular energy source in the UK – according to government statistics, 78 per cent of the public support them, with only four per cent against – the declaration also reflects concern over the extreme wet weather that badly affected parts of the North this winter.

In December, countries across the world committed to take action on climate change, signing the historic Paris Agreement.  Yet in the UK, this is a very uncertain time for renewable energy, with an influential committee of MPs warning last week that the government needs to restore investor confidence in the sector.

This follows a recent report from industry body Energy UK calling for a ‘smart energy future’ and stating that the UK’s energy sector is ready to deliver affordable, reliable and clean energy.

So far, negotiations about the Northern Powerhouse have ignored the issue of climate change and the need for new energy infrastructure.  The groups backing the declaration are clear that this should be based on clean, renewable energy combined with action to reduce energy waste.

The full text of the declaration and the list of signatories can be found on the Green Alliance website.

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