Archive for December, 2014

Make today a Green Sunday

December 21, 2014

green sundayWe’ve had a ‘Mad Saturday’ and a ‘Black Friday’ so why not have a Green Sunday?  Sunday should not be a day for rushing to the shops; it should be a day to relax and to consider more important things.  Northamptonshire Green Party has already considered another five years of Conserative/Labour/Lib-Dem/UKIP cuts and their anti-environmental and anti-people policies.  Your local Green Party wants to stand candidates in your parliamentary constituency in May; but we can’t do it without raising some money first. We have selected five candidates that we hope to stand in the Parliamentary Elections next May and these are :

– Corby, Jonathan Hornett
– Daventry, Steve Whiffen
– Northampton South, Julie Hawkins
– Northampton North, Tony Clarke
– Wellingborough, Marion Turner-Hawes

It will cost £500 for the deposit to stand each candidate, and if we want to stand all five candidates we need to raise money!  To do this, we have launched a Crowdfunder campaign.

Crowdfunder have been working with the Green Party over the last couple of months and there are currently 18 Party campaigns listed on their website. The site allows you to make a donation, at a level of your choosing, and it goes towards the overall target. We have set an initial target of £1500 to raise; this would cover deposits for three of the candidates. We need to achieve this target to get your donations, any less would mean nothing has been raised or donated (it’s how Crowdfunder works) so your support is vital!

Please visit our Crowdfunder Webpage by clicking here.

If you have any questions, please let me know – but if you do one thing, make today a Green Sunday by visiting our Crowdfunder web page and pledging a donation.

Thank you, in advance, for any support that you can give.

Jonathan Hornett

David Cameron is the wrong horse to back for the environment

December 21, 2014

David-Cameron-at-the-EU-s-007People are “fed up” with onshore wind farms being built, and “enough is enough”, David Cameron has said.

The Conservatives say they would not subsidise new onshore turbines if they win the general election.

The prime minister also criticised the “religiosity” of fracking critics, saying he would be happy to see shale gas drilling in his constituency.

Fracking is a “nascent industry” that needs a tax regime “to encourage it to get going”, he added.

Shale gas is a natural gas that can be drawn from rock through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

‘Very happy’

Supporters say it could significantly contribute to the UK’s future energy needs, but critics say the process could lead to environmental problems.

Mr Cameron told the Commons Liaison Committee of senior MPs that some fracking critics “can’t bear the thought of another carbon-based fuel rearing its head”.

When Conservative MP Anne McIntosh said fracking was not about to come to Mr Cameron’s Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, he replied: “I would be very happy if it did.”

The prime minister said there were some differences within the coalition government on environmental policy, but said they were “not huge ones”.

The Lib Dems have said they blocked changes on wind farms being made by the coalition.

‘Wrong horse’

Mr Cameron said it was right that future developments should have to make their case through the planning system with no more subsidies.

People are “frankly fed up with so many wind farms being built that won’t be necessary”, he said.

“Enough is enough and I am very clear about that”, he added.

When the Conservatives revealed their plans to end subsidies, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “Putting the brakes on onshore wind would be disastrous for business and jobs in our growing green economy.”

Responding to Mr Cameron’s latest comments, Mr Davey’s spokesman said 67% of people supported onshore wind energy in the latest Department of Energy and Climate Change research.

Craig Bennett, of Friends of the Earth, said: “Fracking is so unpopular, while renewable energy enjoys massive public support. The prime minister is backing the wrong horse.”

Source – BBC

Only the Green Party are being honest on airport expansion

December 8, 2014

By KEITH TAYLOR – Published in ‘Left Foot Forward’

Every argument in favour of airport expansion has been exposed as a con, so why are we still talking about it?

Heathrow-300x187We don’t want to see any new runways across the South East. This is – and has always been – the Green Party’s position on airport expansion.

Whilst we are clear and honest about our position, the positions of the three traditional parties are, to say the least, ambiguous.

After many a U-turn, our prime minister has let all parties off the hook by allowing them to avoid taking up a position on expansion until after the General Election.

When David Cameron set up the Davies Commission in 2012, there was a rising crescendo of business pressure for new runways.

Cameron effectively kicked the issue into touch until after the 2015 General Election, ostensibly with a brief to Sir Howard Davies to consider whether expansion in the South East was necessary.

Since then, the huge budgets of the pro-expansion lobby have been busy trying to convince people that expansion is our only choice. It’s a con that has thankfully been exposed by the Sunday Times over the weekend.

However, the reality now is that every debate begins by asking where expansion should take place, when the real question which needs to be asked is whether it should take place.

For the Greens, major airport expansion, such as adding a new runway into the mix, doesn’t add up. Nothing has changed since 2009/10 when Labour lost the arguments to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Britain is already amongst the most frequent flyers in the world and contrary to public opinion, does not have a capacity crisis. I repeat, does not have a capacity crisis. Excluding Heathrow, every other airport across the UK, including Gatwick, is underused.

Furthermore, nine of the ten most popular destinations from Heathrow are short haul flights. Existing rail services could offer workable alternatives on most of these routes, thus freeing up landing slots for longer haul flights. As trains are ten times less polluting than planes, this would also be better for the environment.

Sadly, the climate change arguments also seem to have been lost. When I wrote to Sir Howard Davies last month to argue that government policies on climate change and airport expansion are mutually incompatible, I was disappointed to hear in response that he thinks “additional capacity can be provided in the UK while meeting the climate change targets”.

This would only be feasible if all airport growth – across the entire country – is completely halted, which is never going to happen. Recent analysis by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) found that if you added a new runway to the South East, even if you then constrained all regional airports to today’s level of flying, you’d still overshoot the emissions limit by 2050.

It’s simply untrue to suggest that we are losing business to other countries because of our decision not to build new runways. More passengers fly in and out of London than any other city in the world.

Additionally, the employment benefits of expansion have been overplayed. Claims that airport expansion will create thousands of new jobs to help the country through the recession are based on unreliable statistics. Furthermore, expansion actually results in more UK tourists going abroad, which creates a ‘tourism deficit’.

What’s more, the aviation industry can’t even stand on its own two feet! At present, as I found out in detail at a ‘Taming Aviation’ event I hosted in the European Parliament last month, the aviation sector receives an enormous amount of direct and indirect subsidies from European taxpayers.

While every European consumer, small business and haulier has to pay, on average, a tax of 48 eurocents per litre of fuel whenever they fill up their vehicles, commercial airlines based in the EU and flying into the EU don’t pay a single penny of tax on their fuel. Shockingly, aviation’s state aid and exemptions from fuel tax and VAT amount to €43bn every year.

This all begs the question of who expansion is even benefiting. In the UK, 15 per cent of the population take 70 per cent of the flights. To generalise, these are taken by more affluent people who can afford to fly regularly, not one-off holidaymakers. In 2013, 55 per cent of the population took no flights.

After the Sunday Times revelations, we must start to question the need for expansion again.

Keith Taylor is the Green MEP for the South East region. Follow him on Twitter

Green Party membership has doubled since January

December 2, 2014

natbenitvThe Green Party has announced that its membership has doubled in the last 11 months.

The surge in support for the party – including an increase of around 500 this weekend following Natalie Bennett’s appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions – took it to 27,618 members this morning.

The party claims it is also polling at its highest levels ahead of a General Election since 1989, and says it is committing to stand in 75% of constituencies in May – a dramatic increase on 2010.

Bennett – who kicked off Bite the Ballot’s Leaders Live season last week – described the growth a “real landmark” and said many of those joining are former Labour and Liberal Democrat members.