It’s September, the ‘summer’ holidays are officially over and the political party conference season kicked off this week with the Liberal Democrats hosting theirs in the old people’s favourite seaside town of Bournemouth.
With the global banking system in the meltdown following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bailing out of Merrill Lynch, the credit crunch in full swing and a full on recession looming it’s hard to see environmental and green issues being high up the political agenda in the party conference season. Sad as it is, it’s just not a vote winning issue right now, but we’ll keep track of what the politicians are claiming and pledging here on Greenbang.
One of the big Lib Dem announcements this week was the party confirming its opposition to the government’s eco-towns policy.
Liberal Democrat Housing spokesperson, Lembit Öpik (minus Cheeky Girl) said:
“Instead of ensuring all our towns and cities are sustainable, the government is using the green facade of eco-towns to bypass the planning system and ignore local needs and concerns. By presenting these developments as eco-friendly when they are only required to meet moderate environmental standards, ministers are misleading the public in order to force through these often unwanted towns.”
The motion passed at the Lib Dem conference:
- Believes housing should, where possible, be on brownfield land, and closely linked to existing settlements.
- Opposes the development of new settlements in the green belt.
- Opposes the development of free-standing eco-towns.
- Says the focus should be on making already planned and approved developments more environmentally and socially sustainable, rather than on superimposing new settlements in rural areas.
It’s another blow for Gordon Brown’s proposal for 12 new eco-towns, with the Tories already public in their opposition to the plans.
A couple of other green nuggets from the Lib Dem conference yesterday:
- Transport spokesman Norman Baker proposed road taxes of up to £2,500 per year on gas guzzling 4x4s, which would help fund £1,000 payouts to those buying more fuel efficient cars.
- Environment spokesman Steve Webb proposed a ban on new coal-fired power stations that don’t use carbon capture systems to limit emissions.