Conservative manifesto: "We have been the greenest government ever"
Prime Minister David Cameron outlined the Conservative party's election pledges in a manifesto document which was immediately slammed by green groups as "anti-green growth" and "a recipe for higher energy bills".
In an election manifesto that sought to widen the Tories' appeal to voters in marginal seats, Cameron's party insisted it has stayed true to its promise to be the 'greenest government ever'; vowing to continue to support the UK Climate Change Act and cut emissions "as cost-effectively as possible".
The document, released earlier today (14 April), states: "We have been the greenest government ever, setting up the world’s first Green Investment Bank, signing a deal to build the first new nuclear plant in a generation, trebling renewable energy generation to 19%, bringing energy efficiency measures to over one million homes, and committing £1bn for carbon capture and storage (CCS)."
But, as with Cameron's final conference speech before the election, there was actually very little mention of climate change, renewable energy or environment issues in the 82-page manifesto.
It follows the launch of Labour’s manifesto on Monday, which highlighted Labour’s commitment to decarbonise the electricity supply by 2030; and the Green Party manifesto earlier today, which contains a host of bold pledges to drive the renewables revolution.
Here are the key green points from the Conservative party manifesto: -
The Conservatives say they would "provide start-up funding for promising new renewable technologies and research, but will only give significant support to those that clearly represent value for money".
The manifesto confirms controversial plans to effectively bring an end to the development of new onshore wind farms in the UK. "Onshore wind farms often fail to win public support, and are unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires," the document states.
"As a result, we will end any new public subsidy for them and change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications."
Green energy developers are subsequently angered by the plans, with RenewableUK responding: “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest of all sources of energy, so by turning their backs on it, the Tories are proposing to deprive voters of one of the most effective means of keeping all our electricity bills down."
The Conservatives manifesto condemnes the Labour party for its "failure to deliver the next generation of energy projects that will help us keep the lights on, drive bills down and reduce carbon emissions".
Instead, the Tories say they will support low-cost measures on energy efficiency, with the goal of insulating a million more homes over the next five years - "supporting our commitment to tackle fuel poverty".
The document confirms that the Conservatives would "push for a strong global climate deal [in Paris] later this year".
"At home, we will continue to support the UK Climate Change Act. We will cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible, and will not support additional distorting and expensive power sector targets. We will work to prevent climate change and assist the poorest in adapting to it."
Labour's manifesto pledged to put climate change "at the heart of foreign policy", calling it the "most important thing we can do for our children".
As with the Labour equivilant, the Conservative manifesto gives no specific mention of waste policy.
ADBA’s chief executive Charlotte Morton said the Conservative manifesto is "lukewarm at best" on its support for the green economy.
“Anaerobic digestion has enormous potential to support rural employment, improve our energy security and reduce carbon emissions," said Morton. "Our industry grew by 500% in the last parliament – developers and investors are ready to continue that growth, but need clear support for renewable energy and resource management to do so.”
The Conservatives say they will establish a new 'Blue Belt' which - alongside safeguarding precious marine habitats - would see the party spend more than £3bn on improving flood defences, and cap the cost of flood insurance.
"We will now go further, building 1,400 new flood defence schemes, to protect 300,000 homes," the document states.
The Green Party manifesto pledged to "ban fracking immediately", while Labour said it will establish a "robust" environmental and regulatory regime before shale gas extraction can take place.
The Conservative manifesto seems to stick with Cameron's promise that his government would "go all out for shale", reiterating its support for shale gas in the North, as the Government did in the 2015 Budget.
"We will continue to support development of North Sea oil and gas," the manifesto states. "We will create a Sovereign Wealth Fund for the North of England, so that the shale gas resources of the North are used to invest in the future of the North.
The commitment to the UK's Climate Change Act and its legally-binding emissions reduction targets are likely to be welcomed by green businesses and campaign groups.
But the continued support for fossil fuels and lack of detail on renewables, nuclear power, CCS and energy efficiency has already sparked a wave of criticism from green businesses and campaigners.
"The Tories' double standards and ideological bias are embarrassingly obvious," said Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr. "They'll champion localism when it comes to wind farms, but they'll run roughshod over local people's concerns when it's about fracking."
The scramble for votes continues tomorrow (15 April) with the Lib Dems and Ukip releasing there own election manifestos.