Boris Johnson unveils £5bn 'New Deal' recovery package
Prime minister Boris Johnson has today recommitted to tree-planting plans under a £5bn 'New Deal' to help the UK “build back greener” from the coronavirus crisis.
In a major speech in the West Midlands, Johnson outlined government plans to “build, build, build” as part of a “Rooseveltian” deal to spur economic growth.
This will include £1.5bn for hospitals, £1bn for schools, and £900m for “shovel ready” local growth projects in England over the course of this year and next.
Johnson also reaffirmed plans to plant over 75,000 acres of trees every year by 2025, and pledged £40m for local conservation projects that create 3,000 jobs and safeguard 2,000.
“It sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal. All I can say is that if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand,” he said.
“To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”
Johnson also talked about an “infrastructure revolution” across the UK, adding: “This government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up.”
The infrastructure plans were welcomed by the Association for Decentralised Energy (The ADE), but it urged the government to focus on projects that ensure a green recovery.
“It is not enough to just ‘build, build, build’ to really put the country into the green economic recovery it urgently needs,” the association said in a statement.
“By 2050, UK families will still be living in 80% of the housing stock that is standing today - already old and in need of refurbishment and retrofitting in order to meet net-zero targets.”
The creation of 'conservation rangers' was also announced today, which are intended to safeguard natural carbon stores and wildlife habitats like meadows, rivers, and local green spaces.
However, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) described the plans as “lukewarm” and warned that they only address part of what is needed for a successful economic recovery.
“To avoid catastrophe we need a low-carbon, nature-powered recovery, not one weighed down by tarmac and concrete,” WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said.
“This is another missed opportunity – and we don’t have many chances left.”
Image credit: Shutterstock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM