THE Queen’s speech was a ‘squandered opportunity’ to ‘reset’ politics as a catalyst for the common good, said the country’s sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas.
The speech included the proposal of a highly controversial new ‘Infrastructure Bill,’ awarding oil and gas companies sweeping new powers to run pipelines under private land – without the consent of homeowners.
Speaking after today’s State Opening, Caroline Lucas said: “Even putting to one side the evidence of environmental and health risks posed by fracking, the easing of trespass laws within this Bill is a completely unacceptable violation of homeowners’ rights across the country. The public have spoken clearly on this proposed new fracking law: 75 per cent don’t want it. The Government hasn’t listened. So now it’s steamrolling through legislation that will deny people any say in what happens to the very ground beneath their homes. Positive spin on this is pure hot air: the evidence speaks for itself.”
If the warm words in the Queen’s Speech about championing efforts to secure a global agreement on climate change the government are not just spin, the Climate Minister Ed Davey must immediately confirm that he will attend the crucial ministerial climate talks in Bonn this week, and David Cameron must attend the UN global leaders’ summit on climate change in September
The Coalition must also recognise that militant support for fracking is completely at odds with UK leadership on climate change. Actions speak louder than words, and at the moment the UK is pushing ahead with a whole new fossil fuel industry whilst blocking targets for renewables after 2020.
Ministers know that the window of action on climate change is closing fast and that the risks to the UK’s security and prosperity are immense. The only sensible thing to do with shale gas is to leave it in the ground. The Coalition’s focus should be on creating jobs and improve the UK’s energy security by going all out for home-grown renewable energy and energy efficiency, and helping communities generate their own heat and power locally.
The same Bill would see the Government demolish its own ‘zero carbon’ homes policy, backtracking on its previous pledge to make all new homes carbon-free from 2016.
Instead, developers will be allowed to offset carbon emissions by contributing to ‘carbon abatement schemes’ where homes fail to meet sustainability targets. Smaller developments, of up to 50 houses, could be exempt from zero carbon rules altogether – lumping buyers will fuel-guzzling properties and higher energy bills.
Lucas said: “Investment in a resilient, efficient, low carbon UK infrastructure would create jobs, bring down fuel bills, and get emissions down too. Instead, this Bill undermines the public interest by its short-sighted and environmentally reckless investment in polluting policies."
She added: “It is a grossly neglected national scandal that every winter in this country thousands of people die because they cannot afford to heat their homes. We know that energy efficiency should be the number one investment priority: it would cut fuel poverty, create jobs and slash carbon emissions: it's a win-win that the Government chose to ignore"
Caroline Lucas also criticised the Queen’s Speech for omitting any reference to the long-promised ban on the use of animals in circuses.
CHANGING THE AGENDA
Ms Lucas said: “The content of today’s speech was more than disappointing. It was disingenuous – and dishonouring of the electorate.
“What happened to the Coalition’s ‘Green’ ambitions and pledge to work for all? It’s all empty words and backpedalling. It’s time for plain speak and honest work: for the common good of our country, our climate and our children. If not now – then when?”
Ms Lucas will be calling for a complete rewrite of the Infrastructure Bill, to put the UK on a path to a low carbon economy. The changes will focus on five key areas, and include:
- making energy efficiency the number one UK infrastructure priority
- investing in a transition to zero carbon renewable
- investing in public transport systems local road maintenance
- strengthening the UK’s resilience to flooding and climate impact
- major investment in a zero carbon council and social housing programme
The Green MP for Brighton Pavilion will also propose a ‘reasoned amendment’ to the Speech.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- For more information, or to speak with Caroline Lucas MP, contact Jenny Williams, Press Officer on 07590 050 565.
- The Energy Bill Revolution website includes information and resources around Britain’s growing fuel crisis: www.energybillrevolution.org
- You can access Caroline’s website, which includes her latest blogs, news and press releases, here: www.carolinelucas.com