The UK Conservative Party talked up its credentials as the ‘greenest government yet’ at its party conference in Birmingham yesterday.
Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin, reiterated the Coalition Government’s plans for a Green Deal, accelerated rollout of smart meters, a renewable heat incentive, stable carbon price and a Green Investment Bank.
He insisted on continuing support for the previous administration’s feed-in tariffs and incentives for electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
In the face of reported threats to many of these policies in the wake of spending cuts, Letwin argued that each policy fits together into a coherent vision.
“This is a programme that is the result of careful thought and real planning. It is not for tomorrow or the day after, but for the long-term,” he said.
Bolstering those statements was the announcement by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond’s of the Government’s commitment to a new high speed rail network for the country.
While the Government will not consult on the preferred route for the first leg of the network between London and Birmingham until next year, Hammond announced yesterday its preferred route for the second leg north of Birmingham.
The Government favours the so-called ‘Y’ option for two separate routes – one to Manchester connecting onto the West Coast Mainline and a second via the East Midlands and South Yorkshire connecting to the East Coast Mainline north of Leeds.
Green groups have given a cautious welcome to the rail proposals, but say consideration should be taken of opening disused rail lines and stations, as well as increasing capacity on existing routes.
“A fast and efficient electric high-speed rail system could help reduce domestic flights and car journeys, but it will only be a low-carbon travel alternative if it is powered by renewable energy,” says Friends of the Earth campaigner Tony Bosworth.
For further information:
UK Prime Minister challenges government to cut energy use (1-Oct)
UK Government in £24 million drive to develop low-carbon vehicles (17-Sept)
UK Coalition Government confirms incentives for low-carbon cars (28-Jul)
New UK Prime Minister promises “greenest government ever” (17-May)
05 October 2010