The first words on the environment have been uttered by the political parties – the Green Party of England and Wales has produced its environmental manifesto.
Well done to the Greens for having the first word – is this the last word on the environment?
It’s a mere 10 pages with half of them being occupied by images so it won’t take you long to read it – it won’t take you long to read it several times.
Here are my thoughts on likes and gripes:
Eye-catching good things:
‘The Green Party will ensure that existing environmental laws are retained, or enhanced, no matter our future relationship with the European Union.’ – will we see anything similar in the Tory manifesto? I doubt it.
‘We will introduce an Environmental Protection Act, this will: Guarantee strong protections for our natural environment and oceans, especially for the Green Belt, National Parks, SSSIs and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and including a long-term 25 year target for biodiversity, water and air quality.’
- ‘Create a new environmental regulator and court to effectively monitor and enforce environmental law – this would include new statutory requirements for updates
to (and debates in) Parliament on the state of nature and biodiversity.’ – this would be very good as a safety net to prevent environmental damage from future administrations post-Brexit.
- ‘Promote a network of new inter-linking local ecological spaces on both land and sea, ensuring that both our wildest places and urban green spaces are protected and allowed to flourish.‘ – this is intriguing rather than convincing. I wonder what it would mean in practice.
- ‘Establish a right for every person in the UK to have access to a healthy and safe natural green space promoting good mental health, physical exercise, and building community‘ – I believe similar rights exist for access to sporting amenities and have driven policy by local authorities. It’s a good idea.
- ‘We will stand alongside those countries across the world fighting for climate justice, and push for concerted global action to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We would clearly outline how the UK would meet our domestic and international obligations – ending the current policy uncertainty – whilst making climate change a major foreign policy priority.‘ – we won’t see this from any other party, will we?
- ‘The Green Party will refocus public funding for the rural economy towards restoring biodiversity, sustainable land management and farming, improving animal welfare, and tackling climate change.‘ – good words but see below
- ‘We will ensure the completion of an ecologically-coherent network of well-managed marine protection areas around the UK, and in UK Overseas Territories. In addition, any new fisheries legislation must contain a legal requirement to fish below a level that allows fish stocks to fully recover‘ – good and an area where the Tories have failed almost completely to deliver on their promises.
- the cover – yes it’s green but… It shows a planted wood with mown grass. Even the Greens don’t have a true feel for nature do they?
- the manifesto has the appearance of having been thrown together in a hurry but that’s forgivable for the first party to get their message out – although slightly less so for the Green Party which is supposed to have its thoughts straight on these matters.
- personally, I’m in the ‘under these circumstances we don’t have the luxury of dismissing nuclear energy so we’d better do it well’ camp. All-out opposition to nuclear power looks old-fashioned and dogmatic given the scale of climate change
- I’m not keen on fracking but the key thing is keeping fossil fuels in the ground, not how we get out those that we are going to use (provided that we regulate the process so hard that developers are scared witless of screwing up) so I wouldn’t have an all-out ban.
- the words on public funding for the rural economy are the right ones but I wonder whether there is any detailed policy behind them? The next level of thinking is laid out on energy but not on land use – typical of the environmental movement.
Overall assessment: I’d give it a B+
Could do better, and given that this is the Green Party perhaps should have done better. Looks like a bunch of energy nerds got to write it without thinking too much about the natural and rural environment but they did pick up some good ideas from the NGOs.
This sets the standard for other parties and I am pretty confident that no other UK party will produce anything as good. We’ll see. The Greens are a tempting refuge for those who wish to shout out ‘a plague on both your houses’. I’d vote for Caroline Lucas or Natalie Bennett whoever they were up against from any other party but I don’t live in the right places.
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