Government's Green Policies September 2015

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the Government's changes to a number of environmental and energy policies.

I share your concerns about the current Government's direction of travel in this area and believe the Government is showing a lack of commitment to tackling climate change and is setting back efforts to protect the UK's natural environment.

As I am sure you are aware, the previous Labour Government had a strong record on climate change and environmental policy. For example, it introduced the Climate Change Act, which enshrined the world's first legally binding emissions reduction targets, and also doubled the UK's renewable energy capacity. In 2006, the Labour Government announced the zero carbon homes policy which would have ensured all new dwellings from 2016 would generate as much energy on-site - through renewable sources - as they would use in heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation. This was to be supported by tighter energy efficiency standards that would come into force in 2016. However, the current Government has axed both regulations. I remain committed to zero carbon homes and believe the Government should be working with the building industry to ensure the policy is delivered.

I believe the Conservative Government's decision to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms in the UK and to cut support for solar power is short-sighted and could lead to higher bills for consumers in the long term. I am also concerned that the resulting uncertainty across the renewables sector will cost the UK much-needed jobs and investment and undermine green growth and the UK's ability to meet its climate change commitments.

I share your concerns about the Government's failure to listen to legitimate concerns over shale gas and to protect National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. When the Infrastructure Bill was being debated during the last Parliament, Labour tabled an amendment to close several loopholes in the regulations by introducing tough environmental standards, safeguards for our drinking water, protection for areas such as National Parks, and a robust regime of monitoring and inspection. However, unfortunately these amendments did not form part of the Infrastructure Act. I believe the current Government must think again and ensure no shale gas extraction can go ahead under National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or aquifers that supply drinking water. 

I support the European-wide ban on neonicotinoid use because I believe it is a proportionate response to the evidence on the contribution of this pesticide to pollinator decline. Prior to the general election, Labour committed to develop a 25 year plan for the recovery of nature. 

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I will continue to do all that I can to press the Government to protect the UK's natural environment and support a low-carbon economy in the UK.