Yellow and Green
The liberal democrats have long been the “greenest” of the mainstream parties in the UK, most often protesting from the side-lines and backbenches on environmental or climate change issues. Now with the Liberal Democrats putting their two-half penny into a coalition government, we can expect far more commitments and delivery on these issues, as far as tightened budgets will allow. Chris Huhne’s (Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) recently announced “Green Deal”, in tandem with a pledge on Britain’s behalf to the EU to cut emissions by 30% on 1990 levels, seem a promising start. In addition to this Liberal Democrat led councils have an admirable record of delivering on “Green” issues, for evidence of this we need look no further than Sheffield City Council with policies such as the free loft installation which started in April 2009.
Chris Hunhe at the Liberal Democrats’ autumn conference described the “Green Deal” as a ‘revolution’. Once we make concessions for Politician’s’ hyperbole, the “Green Deal” indeed seems to offer progressive measures. The highlights of the “Green Deal” include: the creation of an investment bank for renewable energy/energy saving initiatives, the creation of a high speed rail-link to offer a feasible alternative to domestic flights and car-travel, subsidies available for companies creating renewable resource power stations e.g. offshore wind farms such as the one at Gwynt y Mor, free loft installing and the government backed growth in electric vehicles. Whilst these all sound like excellent measures, they are at the mercy of Osborne’s axe. However this is the nature of Coalition politics; give and take, bargaining will be done. The Liberal Democrats however will be sure to steer coalition policy towards delivering what they can of their Environment policy.
Closer to home, the Liberal Democrat lead council has a sound record on energy efficiency and environmental policy. For instance the Free Loft installation scheme which started in 2009 had by October 2010 insulated 18,500 households and is expanding across the city to Greenhill, Beauchief, Chancet Wood, Batemoor, Low Edges and Jordanthorpe. In addition to this Sheffield council since becoming liberal Democrat led, has a strong record on protecting and even expanding public green spaces. In August 2010, Sheffield celebrated attaining six new ‘green flag’ awards from Keep Britain Tidy bringing the total up to 12. Sheffield City Council also encouraged the nomination of local fields for protection. Locally, under the Lib Dems Sheffield will retain its title as the UK’s “Greenest City”.
In the 2015 election, The Liberal Democrats’ record on the environment will be one of the central arguments they will use to mobilize support both nationally and locally. For their own sake, if not for the planet’s, the Lib Dems must lobby and gain ground on behalf of the environment. Although all environmental policy is mitigated by fiscal policy there is considerable reason for optimism for those with an environmental conscience with the Liberal Democrats sharing government.
Article by Andrew Tromans, member of Liberal Youth.
Edited by Vicky Shreeve.