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Biggest fossil fuel boom since North Sea oil discovery

Analysis of Treasury data shows investment in clean energy has plummeted this year and is now exceeded by fossil fuels, while road and airport building is soaring, The Guardian has reported.

In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne added £430m to the billions in tax breaks granted to the fossil fuel sector since 2012.

Taxpayers will also now fund seismic exploration to help companies find more oil and gas and pay £31m for shale gas research drilling, plus another £5m to “ensure the public is better engaged” with fracking.

Mr Osborne said the North Sea tax breaks “demonstrate our commitment to the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on this great British industry”.

The analysis revealed that, compared with 2012 pipeline data, expected investment in fossil fuels rocketed from 8% to 61% of all energy investment in 2014-15, reaching £15.2bn.

The Treasury claimed half of this was the result of Mr Osborne’s tax breaks.

Investment in low-carbon energy tumbled from an expected £25bn in 2014-15 to £10bn, the analysis found.

For the period 2015-20, the expected share devoted to fossil fuels has more than tripled to 33%, although low-carbon energy - including nuclear power - will receive more.

The share of expected transport infrastructure spending also moved away from cleaner public transport to roads and airports, which together rose from 8% to 36% of the total for 2015-20. Road spending ballooned more than 20 times, to £32.7bn for 2015-20.

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