Vowing to “build back better” as the UK emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister will announce cash for hospital maintenance, court upgrades, high street rescues and – controversially – road upgrades.
But he had been urged to seize the moment to ensure the UK is not “locked further into the climate crisis” – with the commitment of net zero emissions by 2050 in deep trouble.
Instead, the only fresh environmental measure is a hint of a future £40m to boost local conservation projects that would recruit new “conservation rangers”.
“The prime minister won’t build back greener by investing in roads, which will only lock us further into the climate crisis,” said Friends of the Earth’s Muna Suleiman.
“The country is crying out for a green economic action plan with bold energy-efficiency programmes, safer walking and cycling, and world-class public transport.”
And Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said: “Boris Johnson had the chance to show some real leadership and he’s blown it.
“The only ‘bounce’ these plans give us is a bounce is straight into an accelerating climate crisis which he does next to nothing to address.
The green gap in the plans comes despite the independent Committee on Climate Change calling for gas boilers to be phased out and new infrastructure to make cycling and walking easier.
On Monday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, pledged €15bn (£13.7bn) for measures to combat the climate crisis over two years and a referendum on a new crime of “ecocide” for harming the environment.
Mr Johnson’s economic package will accelerate the following capital spending:
* £1.5bn on hospital maintenance, “enabling hospital building” – although Downing Street was unable to say if any new hospitals would be built in the next year;
* £900m for “shovel-ready local growth projects” – including £96m for investment in town centres and high streets;
* £142m for digital upgrades and maintenance for about 100 courts this year;
* £100m for 29 new road projects – including bridge repairs in Sandwell in the West Midlands, and improvements to the A15 in the Humber region;
* £83m for maintenance of prisons and youth offender facilities, plus £60m for temporary prison places.
More than £1bn for school-rebuilding projects, to begin from September 2021 – plus £560m for school repairs – was announced on Monday.
Speaking in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson will attempt to claim the mantle of former US president Franklin Roosevelt by calling the package a “new deal”.
He is expected to say: “This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.
“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.”
A new national infrastructure strategy, including energy networks, road and rail, flood defences and waste, will follow in the autumn, Mr Johnson will say.