In 2018, Cape Town in South Africa was in the unenviable position of being the first major city in the modern era to face the threat of running out of drinking water. According to a BBC report from February that year, London ranks number 9 out of the 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water? Our constituency is very close to London so we would be impacted by that, which is a frightening prospect.
Despite 70% of the planet being covered with water only 3% of it is drinkable. According to UN-endorsed projections, global demand for fresh water will exceed supply by 40% in 2030, thanks to a combination of climate change, human action and population growth.
Air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year and costs the NHS £15 billion. This year, London exceeded its annual air pollution target in just five days – remember we are just on the doorstep of our capital city. Successive Conservative and Labour governments have failed time and again to comply with EU limits on pollution. We will:
Ban new sales of petrol and diesel cars/small vans in the UK by 2030 investing to provide green public transport and public hire vehicles within five years; reforming vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low emission vehicles and investing in the charging infrastructure and universal charging points
Extend Ultra Low Emission Zones and charges to ten more towns and cities
Add to this our continued reliance on fossil fuels for business, heating and transport, which is poisoning the air that we breathe; our failure to invest in green housing and our lack of investment in a green infrastructure and you can see the picture for the human race is bleak. None of us want our children to grow up in a world where people fight for clean water.
Stevenage is in the centre of a major transport link, meaning there are high levels of traffic and congestion; our bus services have been cut and what are left are running on diesel buses and don’t connect huge parts of our constituency with our train links; we are building housing developments such as Gresley Way where the access is unsuitable and will bring major congestion for traffic. All of these things will mean our air quality deteriorates.
The Conservatives have repeatedly cut the support for Green energy production that we championed when in Government – damaging the environment and costing British jobs. Liberal Democrats have a host of net zero policies to combat the climate emergency with an ambitious target.
Expand renewable energy, aiming to generate 60% of electricity from renewables by 2030, restoring government support for solar PV and onshore and building more electricity interconnectors to underpin this higher reliance on renewables..
Support an ambitious carbon capture and storage programme, which is essential for delivering clean industrial growth.
Ban ‘fracking’ because of its adverse impact on climate change, the energy mix, and the local environment.
At over £1,200 a year, the cost of heating and lighting an average home in the UK is high – and with a falling exchange rate, costs will rise further. More than two million families – one in ten households in England – cannot afford to heat their home properly. We will reduce energy bills permanently by improving home insulation and encouraging small-scale, community and local authority renewable schemes. We will make saving energy a top infrastructure priority, to bring down energy bills and carbon emissions, creating thousands of jobs and helping end the fuel poverty crisis once and for all.
Britain’s natural environment is precious. The countryside, wildlife and urban green spaces are critical to health, wellbeing and a sense of community. The quality of the environment also underpins key industries such as agriculture and tourism. We will invest in our natural environment and green spaces and reward landowners for the outcomes of their work to protect the environment. We will plant trees and restore coastal paths to help our planet to cope with the levels of carbon we have released into the atmosphere.
The vote to leave the EU puts farming and agricultural businesses in huge danger, threatening cuts to the support which underpin farmers’ livelihoods; our ability to manage the countryside, and also puts tariffs on exports. For agricultural products outside the EU, tariffs average 22.3% – putting Britain’s £18 billion of food exports in danger. Our system must support our farmers safeguarding the quantity and quality of our food production and protect the environment. We must 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.
We must also protect our fishing industry by not allowing fishing rights to be traded away against other policy areas as Labour and Conservatives have done.
Britain’s economy fails to make the most efficient use of natural resources. We aim to cut waste, increase recovery, reuse and recycling and move towards the so-called ‘circular economy’ in which resource use, waste and pollution are minimised and product lifetimes are extended. This will cut costs for consumers and businesses and create new jobs and enterprises, helping to grow Britain’s economy.
Published by Stephen Booth on behalf of Lisa Nash and the Liberal Democrats, all at 2B North Road, Stevenage SG1 4AT