I've received a large number of requests from voters in Blaydon about Lib Dem views on the environment and my own personal outlook on what needs to be done to tackle pollution and climate change. This is an issue close to my heart. The environment was one of the key issues that brought me into politics 36 years ago. And I don't just talk about it, I live it as well. My self-sufficient lifestyle, at which the local Labour Party has been spitting venom recently, is all about reducing my impact on the environment.
So here are the key Lib Dem environmental policies:
In government, we championed green energy, and oversaw the trebling of renewable electricity generation. Liberal Democrats will expand renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions, cutting dependence on fossil fuel imports and generating more jobs and prosperity. We will:
- Pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set new legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050.
- Support the Paris agreement by ensuring the UK meets its own climate commitments and plays a leadership role in international efforts to combat climate change.
- Expand renewable energy, aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restoring government support for solar PV and onshore wind in appropriate locations (helping meet climate targets at least cost) and building more electricity interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables.
- Oppose ‘fracking’ because of its adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.
Wildlife and nature:
Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to protect and support Britain’s wildlife. We will:
- Pass a Nature Act, which will put the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) on a statutory footing. We will also set legally binding natural capital targets, including on biodiversity, clean air and water, and empower the NCC to recommend actions to meet these targets.
- As well as this, we will reverse the current sharp decline in the rate of woodland creation by aiming to plant a tree for every UK citizen over the next ten years, and protect remaining ancient woodlands.
- Significantly increase the amount of accessible green space, including completion of the coastal path, and create a new designation of national nature parks to protect up to one million acres of accessible green space valued by local communities.
- Liberal Democrats will support our precious marine habitats and wildlife. We will protect and restore England’s lakes, rivers and wetlands, including through reform of water management and higher water efficiency standards, and establish a ‘blue belt’ of marine protected areas.
The agricultural sector can play a major role in providing public goods and protecting wildlife.
The vote to leave the EU puts farming and agricultural businesses in huge danger, threatening both cuts to the support which underpin farmers’ livelihoods and ability to manage the countryside. Our system must ensure food production and protect the environment. That’s why Lib Dems will:
- Continue our long campaign to reform agricultural subsidies – rebalancing away from direct subsidy and refocusing support towards the public benefits that come from effective land management including countryside protection, flood prevention, food production and climate-change mitigation. This would ensure that smaller farms are protected and move support away from large landowners, while delivering a more localised agricultural policy.
- Introduce a national food strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food.
- Continue to improve standards of animal health and welfare in agriculture by updating farm animal welfare codes and promoting the responsible stewardship of antibiotic drugs.