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Kennedy challenges Labour's environment failures in keynote speech

March 1, 2004 12:00 AM

Charles Kennedy MP for Ross, Skye & Inverness West, Leader of the Liberal DemocratsCharles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, today delivered a keynote speech on the environment, outlining his vision for a dynamic and greener economy.

At the event, hosted in Westminster by the WWF, RSPB and the Green Alliance, he stressed the need for a 'fundamental shift' in the way we all treat the environment. He laid down a challenge to Government and to individuals to treat the environment more seriously. He told the Government that 'it isn't acting on the environment, and it isn't even listening' and he stressed that we must 'treat the environment with the same seriousness that it does terrorism'.

He outlined policies to change the way Government used economic instruments to promote environmental responsibility. He announced the need for an 'environmental incentive mechanism' to ensure environmental tax revenues did not 'disappear into the Treasury' but were 'recycled to offset tax cuts'. He also announced a policy to replace passenger airport departure taxes with a duty on flights to promote more efficient aeroplane use.

He said that Labour have failed to put the environment at the heart of Government and the Prime Minister is not tackling environmental issues with the urgency they require. It has failed to treat the environment seriously and he described its environmental record as 'pathetic'. He cited the Government's continuing multi-million pound bail-out of the ailing nuclear industry as an example of its environmental neglect.

Mr Kennedy said that a 'green economy is a dynamic economy' and he highlighted the Government's failure to acknowledge environmental damage that was costing the British economy at least £65 billion every year. He emphasised that 'sensible solutions save money, for the individuals and for the nation'.

He finished by saying that the Liberal Democrats would bring the environment closer to home: 'it is about local planning decisions, taken by local people, in local town halls'. And he said the Government had to be 'willing to take tough decisions at home and convince other governments across the globe to take those tough decisions too'.

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