‘Weak’ Tories have broken environmental promises, says Lib Dem peer

EXCLUSIVE: The Conservative Party's environmental policy record since the 2015 General Election will be remembered as a period of broken promises, the Liberal Democrats' Deputy Leader in the House of Lords has told edie.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Greener UK cross-party panel debate in London last night (30 May), Baroness Kate Parminter singled out “weak” Tory efforts on issues such as air pollution and water.

The Lib Dem environmental spokesperson said that mounting concerns over the potential deregulation of EU-derived green regulations following Brexit is one of the main reasons the Party is calling for a second referendum.

“At the 2015 election, the Conservatives promised to bring forward plans to improve our environment and make it the best for the next generation,” Parminter said. “Those plans haven’t come forward in that time. So we’re very concerned about that.

“They’ve made no attempts to tackle the really big issue of air pollution, of which the Lib Dems have made clear plans for. And they’ve done nothing on water – in parts of the country, we have massive water shortages and in other areas we’re building on land where we’re at serious risk of flooding. The Tory record is weak.”

The Lib Dem manifesto released earlier this month includes a Nature Act which would provide the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) with statutory powers to set legally-binding targets for biodiversity, clean air and water. Parminter told edie that this legislation would help protect the environment and boost the economy post-Brexit.  

She added: “Given that we look like we’re going to be leaving the EU, which has protected our environment, beaches and countryside for so long, we find it is vital that there is UK legislation and a Nature Act which sets out clear targets for how we want to protect our water, habitats for wildlife and protect our soil so that we can have a strategy as we move forward outside Europe to protect those vital resources.”

Zero-carbon homes

The Lib Dems have also pledged to make energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority. The creation of greener homes would be supported by the restoration of a zero-carbon standard for new homes, introduced under the Lib Dem-Tory Coalition but scrapped by the David Cameron administration.

Under a Lib Dem Government, a new standard would be extended to non-domestic buildings by 2022, joined by a Green Buildings Act which aims for every home in England to achieve an energy rating of at least Band C by 2035. Parminter said that, unlike Tory and Labour policies to cap energy prices, her Party’s proposed efficiency measures will benefit both living standards and the low-carbon transition.

“We need to tackle the issue of how people are heating their homes,” she said. “We support retrofitting four million homes by the end of this parliament, and while I’ve been in the House of Lords, one of my big campaigns has been about bringing back the zero-carbon homes standards.

“As soon as we came out of the coalition George Osborne dropped them. We’ve got to look at retrofitting but we’ve also got to start building homes for the future which are fit for purpose and help to deliver our carbon targets and are better for people’s livelihoods.”

View all of edie’s General Election 2017 coverage here.

George Ogleby

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