Monday, 26 July 2010

Environmental Issues Top the Poll

In the run-up to the Scottish elections this Thursday, campaign group Friends of the Earth has carried out an environmental audit of the six main parties’ manifestos, with the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats at the top. 

FoE Scotland has been giving scores out of ten to the country’s political parties for their environmental policies. Since the last election in 1999, all the parties have improved, except for the Conservatives, says the group, although the Scottish Socialist Party was not included in the 1999 survey.
The Green Party scored nine out of ten, followed by the Lib Dems with eight, the SNP and SSP both with five, the Labour Party with four, and the Conservatives scored zero. The Lib Dems increased their score by the largest amount – four points – between 1999 and 2003.
With 86% of Scots saying that the environment is an important issue, it is not surprising that nearly all the parties have improved their manifestos, says FoE Head of Research, Dr Dan Barlow. “We have seen many positive policy announcements in recent months from the Lib/Lab coalition, for example on waste and energy,” he said. Nevertheless, the incoming Executive will need to step up a gear if it is to deliver sustainable development and environmental justice, he added.
FoE’s criteria for the Scottish parties included issues such as those on improving prosecutions for pollution, corporate accountability, information on chemical releases, and performance indicators for sustainable development.
The Green Party scored strongly with commitments on climate, third party right of appeal on planning, and waste. However, as with all the other parties, the Greens have failed to commit to producing an annual report on sustainable development or to establishing Scotland’s ecological footprint.
The Lib Dems have again integrated environmental policies into all areas of their manifesto (see related story). For the health service, this would mean the adoption of green energy, transport and procurement policies.
At the other end of the scale, the Conservative Party was described as “sadly lacking on the environment”, aside from unspecific comments on encouraging local recycling and promoting energy efficiency. It also proposes a major road-building programme and opposing congestion charging schemes. This year the party lost its one point awarded in the 1999 survey because its manifesto states that it plans to repeal important environmental legislation, including the Transport Act and the Climate Change Levy.
“It is important to note that many of the positive developments in the first four years of the Executive were not contained in the parties’ 1999 manifestos,” said Barlow. “However, neither were negative developments such as the current £1 billion road building programme.”
Source: edie newsroom

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