5 key points: what does the Budget mean for the great outdoors?

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 18/03/2016
Sunset over King's Tor, Dartmoor. Photo: Shutterstock / ASC Photography

What did this year's Budget do for the great outdoors? From plans for tunnels under the Peak to a possible relaxation in housing planning; there's a host of changes in this year's Budget with potential ramifications for the outdoors. Read on to find out more.

Britain is forecast to grow faster than any other major advanced economy in 2016. However, the challenges the country faces are growing, and the global economic outlook has deteriorated. The government recognises it has more work to do – the deficit and debt levels are still too high – and hopes these measures will help, but at what cost? Here’s our quick rundown on the major impacts for outdoor sports and the environment.

Sugar tax pays for school sport

This is the big news. The UK has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed countries: two in 10 children are worryingly overweight when they leave primary school. From 2018, sugary drinks companies will be taxed as an incentive to reform. The cash will be used to improve the quality and breadth of PE and sport in primary schools and to extend the school day in some secondary schools with after-school sports clubs. It will also be used for breakfast clubs, which ensure children have a nutritious start to their day.

Nick Colton, BMC deputy CEO commented: “I think the idea of a tax on sugary drinks is a good start and any help to support schools is welcome in the current economic climate. I was appalled at the cut in disability benefits though.”

Jon Garside, BMC/MTE training officer, added: “Related to this, the Today programme called for the daily mile to become a part of all primary school activity, as it is in Scotland. They mentioned a PCT in England providing support for the programme in their area as they will see benefits further down the line when the kids are adults.”

Green spaces threatened by housing crisis

To help tackle the UK’s crippling housing crisis, the government has already committed to providing 400,000 new affordable homes by 2020-21. However, there was little about this in the Budget, apart from the worrying news that planning permission will be further simplified. Effective building regulations are essential not only to protect wildlife, landscapes, access to green spaces and cultural heritage, but also to ensure the countryside can provide clean water, healthy soils and carbon capture in peats and forests, and contribute to the economy.

BMC access & conservation officer Cath Flitcroft commented: “Unlocking more land for housing seems crazy. The Housing and Planning Bill is currently going through the House of Lords and we still don’t have satisfactory answers to a lot of the questions, so we are concerned with these proposals.”

Disability sport

There has been outcry over the £3.4 billion cut in disability benefits and it’s not yet clear whether this will affect disability sport. On the plus side, the Budget contained a £1.5 million investment into sports prosthetics for children. Policy manager, Leigh Thompson blogged: “Given the success of the London 2012 Paralympics and the expectation surrounding the forthcoming Rio 2016 Paralympics, this represents a positive commitment to helping young people with limb impairment to access sport and, hopefully, develop into future athletes.” It will also go towards funding developments in innovative prosthetic for the NHS.

Road tunnel under the Peak

As part of the government's £300 million designated to transport projects, a new Trans-Pennine tunnel under the Peak District is proposed between Sheffield and Manchester. The BMC expressed some concern a while ago about this. The trans-Pennine route is already heavily-used by commercial traffic between Manchester and Sheffield, and there are concerns that the proposed bypass would actually channel even more lorries across some of the most sensitive wildlife sites in the Peak District National Park.

Good news on flooding but is it enough?

A boost of over £700 million will be added to the £2.3 billion already committed to building and maintaining flood defences by 2020-21. But are these simply reversals of cuts that should never have been made in the first place? South Lakes MP Tim Farron said the money going to Cumbria equates to only a tiny part of the £500m needed to rebuild in the wake of storms Desmond and Eva. He pointed out that the main road accessing the whole of the Lake District [the A591] is still closed and said: “The government cares little about the North.”

In other news

Yesterday’s Budget also outlined measures to help with job security and create job opportunities, made a strong case for staying in the EU stating it will "make the UK stronger, safer and better off", and increased support for zero and ultra-low emission vehicles to protect the environment for the next generation. There will be a government consultation on expanding support for grassroots sports through the corporation tax, and £500,000 of funding will go to an international marketing campaign for the Tour de Yorkshire 2016.


We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.

Did you know that we've just launched a new U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: 

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/join-the-bmc-for-1-month-U27-membership


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Anonymous User
27/03/2016
Thanks for the interesting rundown. I'm sorry but I don't agree, though, with your assessment of the economy in your opening remarks - sounded a little like a Conservative party advert. I also don't agree with a sugar tax and the clever ploy to stop us all moaning by saying the money is going to school sport (it is hard not to disagree without sounding like I'm not in favour of more money for schools). The problem is not the sugar but the over consumption of it. This is a very different problem than smoking and alcohol consumption and there is very little evidence that taxes on alcohol or cigarettes have lowered consumption anyway (I mean hard evidence not opinion). It is a weak attempt to solve a major problem and will only really hit the poorer members of our society anyway - yet again. If I suggested we tax the poor to pay for sport in schools I think I people would call me an evil person and yet that is exactly what the sugar tax is. The many schemes of past governments to persuade people to be more active have been cut and yet surely that is where the solution lies. It is not so much that being active burns fat (it does but very slowly) but that when your body is active and fit it craves good food in sensible proportions rather than large amounts of bad (a comment on a web site is not the place for a long explanation of what I mean but I hope people get the point). The solution lies in activity not attacking basic food types (what is next a tax on deep fried food like fish and chips, or maybe a tax on bacon?).
Chris

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