What impact will the election have on the environment?

So we have voted the Conservatives in for another term, but what does that mean with regards to the environment? Let’s have a look. Firstly, what are the main environmental pledges that they have promised?

  • Protect the environment and Green Belt in the planning system
  • Spend more than £3bn to 2020 improving the environment
  • Phase out subsidies for new onshore wind farms
  • Invest £500m over the next 5 years towards making most cars & vans zero emission vehicles by 2050

So firstly they are going to protect the environment and the green belt in the planning system: What does this mean? Well the Green Belt is designated areas, for instance a belt around London, that is not to be built on and is to be kept for agriculture, outdoor leisure and forestry. The idea is that towns and cities should not be allowed to grow so much they amalgamate, and will always be separated by these green belts. It encourages responsible building. So to protect it is certainly a good idea! It also implies that new building plans will have to take into account the environment. They are also implementing a new ‘blue belt’ to protect marine life around our shores.

The second point is with regards to putting £3bn towards things like cleaning up our waterways, preserving our hedgerows and stone walls, and keeping bees alive. They also plan to plant 11 million trees. One thing that caught my eye is they plan to provide maps of all open access green areas, which sounds nice.

The third point is to phase out subsidies for onshore wind farms, so we will not see so many wind farms on land. It was promised previously that this would mean more off-shore wind farms but this is not stated in their manifesto so I am doubtful. Couple this with the fact that off-shore wind turbines are fantastically expensive and the technology is not as mature as the on-shore variants and it looks pretty bleak. On-shore wind farms, however, are one of the most cost-effective renewable energies going, and the technology is well established.

The fourth point states that they will invest £500m towards making cars & vans zero emissions. In their manifesto it gives no further details of how they are planning to achieve this.

Other noteworthy points include: They are planning to pour over £3bn into flood defences, let us hope they are sensible with this as we have seen the effects of defending one area of coastline only to have the damaged pushed up to another area. Get the Dutch on it I say! They are also going to protect animal welfare and protect our energy prices by encouraging competition.

 

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