On 19 March, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer gave his fifth budget – the penultimate budget in the lead up to 2015’s general election. In contrast to the previous four, 2014’s budget showed confidence and tempered optimism that the economy was back on-track, despite some concerns about UK growth over the next two years. The result was a series of measures designed to protect growth over the long-term and no doubt win over some voters now.
There was the news that the Government will cap the UK’s Carbon Price Support rate at £18/tonne from 2016-17 to 2019-20. This is significant as the UK’s energy industry faces some of its toughest challenges since the market was privatised and protecting competitive advantages is crucial if we want to keep the lights on and try to bring ever-rising household bills under control.
An implication to draw from the budget is that the Government remains committed to both retaining coal power generation and investing in low-carbon technology – a position few would oppose. This preserves the long-term objective of a low-carbon energy market, but means consumers won’t be punished now to fund new technology. It’s also good news for producers, specifiers and users of quality fly ash and furnace bottom ash (FBA), which remains vital to a construction sector recovery. With growth accelerating, material supply must keep pace with demand and the ready availability of these established industry materials is essential. Anything that builds the sector’s confidence is therefore welcome. While it may not have been one of the Chancellor’s key objectives, helping to maintain fly ash and FBA supply is excellent news for the UKQAA, its members and most importantly consumers of ash products across the UK, who can look forward to a sustained supply of quality products for many years to come.