While Neil Parish and his committee says the government must set tougher targets to lower air pollution if it hopes to reduce the health inequalities that have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic, the Government backtracks on other Green Policies.
The much trumpeted £27bn roads plan is in doubt after after documents showed the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, overrode official advice to review the policy on environmental grounds.
It has been a legal requirement to take into account the environmental impact of such projects since 2014. Shapps appears to have pressed ahead despite the advice of civil servants in his own department.
This is likely to be challenged legally.
Ministers are withdrawing hundreds of millions of pounds from a green home improvements scheme championed by Boris Johnson as a key element of the government’s net zero strategy.
These two example are neatly put together in this extract from the print edition of an article yesterday by Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent, The Guardian
… the central point [is] that major infrastructure decisions must take account of the UK’s binding climate obligations was affirmed. Campaigners want to use the same argument to force a review of the government’s £2bn road-building scheme, which they say would bust the UK’s carbon target and is incompatible with the obligation to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Mike Childs of Friends of the Earth said: “We need to see a conclusive end to the damaging fixation with new fossil fuel-heavy projects. It’s hypocritical having a government that is happy to talk the talk on climate change, but then spends billions of pounds on roads.”
…….Road-building pledges are a staple of governments to show business-friendly credentials through infrastructure that supposedly creates jobs and boosts enterprise, and this seems to be the current motivation. Yet ministers show little interest in other projects that have a better chance of achieving this while reducing emissions.
The government has admitted its green homes grant scheme – central to the “build back better” pledge will have most of its £2bn funding withdrawn. Applicants have waited months for money, meaning most of the £2bn remains unspent. Yet that funding will not be rolled over after March, so the scheme is essentially over. In the light of the pandemic, miles of new motorway may be less essential to the way people work than a boost to broadband connectivity in rural areas. That would also create “shovel-ready” green jobs and equip the UK for a low-carbon and digital future. That seems as far away as ever. [Owl emphasis]
We all know, alas, that “shovel-ready” has a very literal meaning to the Government (and our LEP) – Owl