Author Archives: Green Alliance blog

How Wales is powering ahead on renewables

solar_panels_wales_original-copyThis blog is by Amy Leppänen, communications assistant at Green Alliance.

Yesterday’s news on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon has refocused attention on renewable energy opportunities in Wales. But where has the country got to so far? Wales has been known as a coal nation and global hub of the industrial revolution, second only to England. But our research indicates that the Welsh have lost none of their pioneering spirit and are now powering up for the renewables era. Read more

In parliament, environmentalists still seem like a minority

2701153820_0f29d46bf4_b.jpgThis post is by Richard Benwell, head of government affairs at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

In his blog for Green Alliance last week, Lord Deben argued that environmentalists must mature into the mainstream, set aside fringe tactics and speak with a constructive voice. He is surely right that we need to offer credible solutions to the threats of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.  Read more

We should use Brexit to put things right for our fishermen and for fish

A Fishing boat returns, Saltash in Cornwall. England.This post is by Blue Marine Foundation‘s executive director, Charles Clover and first appeared on the foundation’s website. It is a transcript of his speech to a Bright Blue round table on the natural environment post-Brexit, at the House of Commons on 14 December. 

I’d like to tell the story of an independent coastal state that recently took back charge of its own waters and its own fish. It ejected all industrial vessels, including its own trawlers, from within six miles of its coast. It threw out all foreign vessels and is allowing them back in only after they agree to fish to under one of the toughest regimes in the world. The results have been remarkable. Read more

A new opportunity to protect our environment as we leave the EU

greeneruk_twitter_3This post is by Kit Malthouse MP. It first appeared on Conservative Home.

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence…”  Wallace Stegner

More often than not, politics is highly predictable. In Westminster, the fault lines in a debate are usually identifiable before even a word is uttered. Parties try to define themselves by creating these fire breaks – “clear blue water”; “weaponise the NHS” –  claiming particular territory for their exclusive use: “We are the party of [*insert issue here*]. And you’re not.”

Protecting our environment is important to politicians and the public
There is, though, one policy area in which every politician feels that sense of ownership: something seems to come over most MPs when they talk about nature. Atavistic passions are unleashed, poetic phrases composed and fierce arguments ensue about who owns this particular mountain top.

The debate in the country as a whole is not much different. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that we have a huge number of charities and NGOs devoted to protecting, enhancing and developing our environment in this country. From the National Trust and dozens of wildlife trusts, to the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT), to Client Earth and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, there are literally dozens and dozens of organisations focused on this one policy area.

Brexit is an environmental opportunity
So when they all came together and declared that Brexit is an environmental opportunity, it turned a lot of heads. So many heads in fact, that over 150 MPs from all parties, including me, have now signed the “Greener UK Pledge for the Environment”.

Those who did so have pledged to pressure the government to repurpose and reenergise our environmental protections as we leave the EU, using the opportunity to reaffirm our global leadership on the environment and strengthen the protection of wild places and wildlife, and making British biodiversity an urgent priority. We want to pass on a thriving natural world on land and at sea, clean air and water, communities connected to nature, and a sustainable economy.

We must recognise that we have a debt to past generations and a duty to those to come, and our natural treasures are evidence of that connection and contract. If we lose them, life will be less rich, our experience of the world a little bit more desolate, and our society more disconnected from itself. If we become the kind of nation that takes no notice of such things, or that shrugs and moves on, no summer’s bloom will lie ahead. To do so would be to accept a Britain where we had broken cleanly with our natural heritage, and we would be diminished.

I’m certain Brexit will yield many prizes, and chief amongst them must be taking back control of our own mountains, beaches, moors and marshes. From our ancient forests to our parks and gardens, we truly live in a green and pleasant land. There is already significant support across both Houses of Parliament for an agenda that doesn’t just seek to protect this but aims actively to restore our natural world. At these moments of unity, we can achieve real change and Brexit surely gives us the chance to make it happen.

More MPs are signing the Pledge for the Environment every day.

If you are an MP, and are interested in signing, please email: mp@environmentpledge.org.uk

It’s time for environmentalists to stop behaving like they’re in the minority

protest_ron-f_flickr-creative-commonsThis post is by Lord Deben chairman of the Committee on Climate Change.

We environmentalists must stop behaving as if we are perpetually in a minority. When the revolution has actually occurred we can’t go on as if the ancien regime hasn’t fallen. We have grown used to our role of opposing, cajoling, and shaming, but we seem much more uncomfortable in becoming part of mainstream thought. Read more

We have ignored the impact of land management on flood risk for too long

flood-sign_-tico-_flickrThis post is by Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change.

Over centuries our communities have developed around rivers, to ensure easy access to water for use by populations, industry and for navigation. At the same time, landowners have straightened and dredged rivers, drained their land and removed natural features, aiming to raise agricultural output and get excess water away downstream as quickly as possible. But, in recent years, we have seen time and again the enormous cost of too much water at once flowing into our heavily populated floodplains, despite the billions spent by the government on flood defences. Read more

Hard Brexit may have unpalatable consequences for UK agriculture

Credit-National-Trust.jpgThis post is by Patrick Begg, rural enterprise director at the National Trust.

At last week’s Conservative conference we saw and heard yet more evidence of Theresa May’s innate pragmatism. We’re to transpose all EU legislation, including those related to nature and the wider environment, into UK Law, buying us time to consider what we want, don’t want and what can be improved. It also keeps the show on the road and sustains current levels of protection at a time when uncertainty could have eroded confidence and the authority of those regulations.  This sounds sensible and is probably the best we could have hoped for.

Read more

Legal action is a last, but necessary, resort

no2dirtyair-at-royal-courts-of-justice-11No 10’s former energy and environment adviser, Stephen Heidari-Robinson, suggested on Inside Track that ClientEarth’s legal action against the government would obstruct progress on air pollution. This response is by James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth. 

Why do governments get taken to court?
My view, as an environmental lawyer dedicated to the public interest, is simple enough. Legal action ensures that governments comply with the law and act in the best interests of the environment, the country and its citizens. Read more

A strategy to solve air inequality and keep Britain moving

leedsThis post is by Stephen Heidari-Robinson, former energy and environment adviser to David Cameron.

Unlike smog, today’s air pollution is an invisible killer: according to the Royal College of Physicians, 40,000 Britons die from it each year, twenty times the number killed in road accidents. Children are the most vulnerable: research suggests that their long term health and learning both suffer. Read more

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