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article imageOp-Ed: How ‘green’ are the U.K. Conservatives?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 1, 2015 in Environment
London - The new U.K. Conservative Government has covertly and overtly dropped a number of pro-environmental policies. Many of these were policies the party appeared to support when in coalition.
Many years ago U.K. Prime Minister David (“call me Dave”) Cameron positioned himself as a pro-environmentalist. For example, leading up to his tense leadership contest with David Davis he posed at North Pole, cuddling husky dogs and the like. Now that Cameron has secured power, many environmental commitments have been jettisoned.
Some of these policies were shared with the Liberal Democrats when the Conservative Party was in government. Other policies were hinted at in the manifesto or tacit support given during the election debates.
According to The Guardian, nine environmental policies have been dropped. These are:
1. Scrapping support for onshore wind power. This is through scraping energy subsidies and blocking new developments.
2. Removing subsidies for solar power.
3. Halting support for coal power stations converting to fuels with lower pollution emissions. In other words, fossil fuels have received wholehearted backing from the Conservatives.
4. Stopping support for homeowners to insulate their houses, together with the fitting new boilers and draught-proofing.
5. Selling off the government stake in the national green investment bank.
6. Dropping incentives for consumers to buy greener cars. Currently anyone who buys a new car pays a different rate for the first year based on how polluting the car is. This will now be equalized between all cars irrespective of their fuel emissions. The risk is that this measure will will put off motorists buying low-emission vehicles.
7. Scrapping plans for new build zero carbon homes.
8. Allowing fracking at protected nature sites, including national parks.
9. Scrapping the target to keep increasing the proportion of revenue from environmental taxes.
So worried are the heads of the 10 environment groups, which include the National Trust, Greenpeace and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), that they have written to David Cameron. In the letter they respectfully request: "We would encourage you to resolve some of the contradictions that have emerged between the stated intentions of government and the actions of your ministers in its first period in office."
Cameron has not responded directly to the letter. Instead a civil servant has said on behalf of the government: "The Government has been clear that our priority is to reduce emissions in the most cost-effective way, keeping bills as low as possible for hardworking families and businesses." In other words, Cameron is too busy to answer a letter from the ten leading environmental groups in the U.K. Moreover, the answer given effectively says that the economy of today outweighs the environmental concerns of tomorrow.
The signal that the Conservative Party are sending is that they are not really interested in conserving anything at all. They are, in essence, a pro-market liberal party where the requirements of business and de-regulation of markets drive the policy agenda. The only part of the energy strategy to continue to receive support from the government, and thus the taxpayer, is nuclear power.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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