Category Archives: Environment

Kate Parminter: It is a disgrace that the government has lifted the ban on destructive pesticides

Baroness Parminter
Baroness Parminter

Kate Parminter has written to the Guardian criticising the recent announcement by the Government that the ban on neonicotinoids will be lifted.

It is a disgrace that the government delayed the announcement of its decision on granting the National Farmers’ Union permission to use neonicotinoid seed treatments until after parliament had gone into recess. No surprise, given it had already suppressed publication of the agenda and minutes of the expert committee on pesticides meeting on 20 May. This is a government that also ignores the advice of its chief scientific adviser. On 14 May he called a recent Swedish field trial on rapeseed treated with neonicotinoids – which showed a decline in both the number of wild bees and bumblebee colonies – “an important contribution to the evidence base” on their impacts. Lib Dems believe this derogation for farmers by our government undermines the welcome 2013 EU ban on these bee-harming chemicals.
Kate Parminter
Deputy leader, Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

The letter can be found here

Jenny Randerson calls for building industry to use energy intelligently and efficiently

Baroness Randerson
Baroness Randerson

Wales Office minister will today (11 February) emphasise the need for the building industry to use energy intelligently and efficiently.

This will help ensure that Wales continues to create a greener built environment – in homes and the workplace – to ultimately save people money.

This will be her key message when she addresses the inaugural Wales Green Building Marketplace taking place today in Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Organised by RenewableUK Cymru, the event will be an opportunity for over 100 people to hear from experts about the challenges and opportunities facing businesses and individuals in making buildings greener and more energy efficient.

Issues covered include the challenges facing the public sector in delivering large-scale energy-efficient adaptations to buildings, how to get green refurbishment and improvements to your house right first time and advice for landlords about the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Continue reading Jenny Randerson calls for building industry to use energy intelligently and efficiently

Sarah Ludford: Public opinion now ‘waking up’ to air quality risks (via Politics Home)

Baroness Ludford
Baroness Ludford

A period of anniversaries – from the First World War to Magna Carta to the Beatles in the US (only the last of which was in my lifetime!) – makes me reflect on changing social attitudes.

When I was young, people smoked not only in homes, pubs and restaurants but in offices and trains, even hospitals. I celebrated an anniversary of my own last November, marking 25 years since I gave up smoking. Like most of us, I regard smoking now as anti-social.

The popular TV series Mr Selfridge reminds us that in 1918 women employees – earning in any case only half their male counterparts – were sacked to make way for returning war heroes. Sex discrimination, like racial and homophobic prejudice, has not vanished, but its grosser manifestations have become unacceptable.

Attitudes have hardened to drunk driving and are arguably becoming less tolerant of (sober) dangerous or careless driving, including that which kills cyclists.

The law and social evolution seem to work in tandem, reinforcing each other in squeezing out harmful behaviour. Attitudes start to alter, then the law comes in to crystalise and back the change and itself helps generate more progressive views.

On air pollution, we are at a surprisingly low point on this evolutionary scale, apart from on coal-generated smog which the almost 60-year-old Clean Air Act was designed to eliminate.  There has been UK law on (invisible) air pollution for 40 years, in the form of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 – on the drafting of which, incidentally, I worked as a junior civil servant.

The full article is here

Tony Greaves: The grass isn’t always greener in East Lancashire (via Politics Home)

Lord Greaves
Lord Greaves

Liberal Democrat peer and deputy leader of Pendle Borough Council calls on the Government to provide grants that would encourage housing developments on unprofitable brownfield sites in East Lancashire.

This is about former cotton towns in East (Pennine) Lancashire where the housing market is slack and house prices in the towns are low – decent terraced houses typically from £50,000 to £85,000, modern semis and bungalows from £100,000 to £150,000.

Most of the available housing land, brown or green, is not “viable”. The cost of land and building plus the developers’ profits is more than the local market return from sales or letting. The only exceptions are attractive countryside sites on the edge of town where there is strong resistance to development (and not just from NIMBY neighbours), the subject of bitterly fought planning battles.

The full story is here

 

Letter of the Lords – 19 January 2015

This week’s newsletter on the work of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords

 

To subscribe to this email please contact davidm.shaw@parliament.uk

 

Cathy Bakewell’s speech opening today’s debate on the natural environment, green transport and protecting wildlife

Baroness Bakewell
Baroness Bakewell

My Lords I am delighted to be able to lead this debate this morning.  This is a very wide ranging topic and one which can cause strong views to be taken on differing sides of the argument.  However, this debate is really about planning for the future.  How do we maintain our green environment for future generations and how do we put in place infrastructure to make best use of green technology as it becomes available.

Some believe the effects of climate change are with us, others believe that is all just part of the nature cyclical process of the earth and can point to events in history which mirror our current predicaments.  There are those taking part in this debate whose credentials are excellent and far outweigh my own interest in this matter.  I look forward to hearing from them and also to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Callanan.

Almost on a weekly basis we can see examples of global natural disasters on our television screens.  Whether it be excessive flood waters, extreme droughts or the melting of the Arctic Polar ice cap.  Last winter saw unprecedented rain fall in Britain resulting in distressing floods in Somerset, the land around the Thames and many other areas. Continue reading Cathy Bakewell’s speech opening today’s debate on the natural environment, green transport and protecting wildlife

Susan Kramer announces second phase of £5 million ultra-low emission vehicles scheme

Baroness Kramer
Baroness Kramer

Public sector organisations to bid for funding from a £5 million scheme to get ultra-low emission vehicles into their fleets.

Up to 35 public sector organisations are being asked to bid for funding from a £5 million scheme to support ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV), Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced today (13 January 2015).

Organisations including the police, fire services and the NHS will be able to test their ULEV-readiness, as part of a drive to get electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles into the fleets of central government.

The scheme was announced last year and today is being opened to the wider public sector. Winners will be offered a fully-funded fleet review to identify how to introduce greener vehicles.

The first phase saw 15 government departments launch reviews of their vehicle fleets and will see around 150 vehicles begin to enter fleets from February. The second phase is expected to see more than 200 plug-in vehicles introduced to the fleets of other public sector organisations.

Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said:

We want the public sector to lead by example. This £5 million investment will see a significant increase in the number of plug-in vehicles used by public bodies such as local authorities, police forces and the NHS and help both the environment and the economy. I look forward to seeing the results.

The £5 million is in addition to £500 million announced by the Deputy Prime Minister in April 2014, which includes:

  • at least £200 million to continue the Plug In Car Grant, which cuts up to £5,000 off the price of a new ULEV car
  • £100 million for research and development
  • £35 million cities scheme, to increase the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles
  • £20 million to encourage ULEV taxis
  • £30 million to boost the low emission bus market
  • £32 million for more chargepoints

ULEVs are a major growth area for the hugely successful UK automotive sector, which is worth more than £11 billion to the economy.

2014 sales were 4 times greater than 2013 sales and over 1% of new car sales in October and November were ULEVs. In December, 1 in every 78 cars sold was an ULEV.

The government is also backing the Go Ultra Low campaign to help fleets and general motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and capabilities of ultra low emission vehicles. Go Ultra Low is also supported by leading car manufacturers: Audi, BMW, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Further details are available at www.GoUltraLow.com.

Jenny Randerson: Wales needs to harness its unique energy potential

Baroness Randerson
Baroness Randerson

The Energy Policy in Wales summit, which is being held at the Angel Hotel in Cardiff, will discuss the future of energy in Wales, including the proposed Wylfa site, wind, solar and marine power generation.

Baroness Randerson, in acknowledging the huge economic and social importance of the sector and the need to secure its future, said:

Energy drives our economy and our way of life – if we cannot keep the lights on, keep the computers running, and keep our homes and offices warm, little else matters.

Without a reliable energy supply for the future, our efforts to meet legally binding targets to address climate change, or keep costs under control, will become much less important.

She highlighted the importance of change and the opportunities this presents for Wales as well as the need for more collaboration between the Government and the Private Sector to ensure a positive future for the sector in Wales, saying:

From small scale, community based renewables to Wylfa Newydd and tidal lagoons, I want Wales, once again, to be a world leader in energy supply and in the manufacture of the technology it requires.

It is now down to the private sector – companies such as you here today – to continue to grasp the challenge, to innovate and show that Wales can lead the world.

Susan Kramer announces £25 million advanced biofuels demonstration competition

Baroness Kramer
Baroness Kramer

I have today (10 December 2014) launched the government’s £25 million advanced biofuels demonstration competition to support the development of a domestic advanced biofuel industry, we have also published the independent feasibility study on GOV.UK into the project and the opportunities available for UK industry.

This is a major step forward for the UK. According to the feasibility study, gains from the domestic supply of converting low value waste to high value transport fuel could be worth up to £130 million gross value added to the UK by 2030, and potentially up to £500 million per year including exports. Therefore, I believe that using our world class research capabilities, this competition will provide real opportunities for UK businesses to become a global leader in this market.

Originally announced by the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker MP last August, the £25 million of capital funding, supported by significant private sector investment, is designed to achieve the construction of up to 3 demonstration-scale advanced biofuel plants in the UK. Awards will be made in 2015 and the funding will be available until 2018.

Relative to first-generation biofuels (those made from traditional crops, starch, sugars or vegetable oil), advanced fuels could deliver greater carbon savings without the same concerns around food security and land use change. Advanced fuel technologies have the potential to reduce our reliance on imported energy, by turning unwanted waste products into valuable transport fuel.

Alongside the competition, the Department for Transport has also established a Transport Energy Taskforce to consider options for supporting advanced biofuels through policy mechanisms. We are also supporting a sub target at EU level.

Expressions of Interest are now being sought from potential bidders until 13 February 2015, short-listed projects will then be invited to submit full proposals.