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LibDems challenge Tories on green agenda

December 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Polluting power stationIn a keynote speech on climate change to an audience of Liberal Democrat members, NGOs and environmental publications, Charles Kennedy highlighted the difference between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on the issue of the environment following David Cameron's assertion that the parties now agree:

"The Conservatives are the jonny-come-latelys to the green agenda. If the Tories are to make good on the green agenda they will have to shift radically - 180 degrees in some cases - because they are simply not credible on the environment. They want to scrap the climate change levy but have offered no viable alternative. The new Leader, David Cameron, used his acceptance speech to call for a major new road building programme. This suggests that Cameron remains wedded to the old-fashioned thinking that ignores the root of the problem."

Mr Kennedy pointed out that divergent attitudes on the topic of nuclear power illustrate the difference between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

"Nuclear power has proven itself to be grossly expensive, environmentally disastrous and an unacceptable drain on the public purse. British taxpayers are currently facing a £56bn bill just to clear up the nuclear waste we already have - equivalent to bill of over £800 for every person in the UK."

Mr Kennedy pointed out it will be the public who pay for this: "If private industry can't pay and Gordon Brown won't pay, it is likely we'll end up with a new nuclear tax on our fuel bills."

Mr Kennedy also launched the concept of 'Green cities and Green Communities,' citing Lib-Dem held Newcastle city council as an example. The city has set up the CarbonNeutral Newcastle project:

"This partnership between local government, local people and local businesses is already reducing the city's climate change impact delivering over 15,000 tonnes of additional C02 reductions per annum.

"Fighting climate change does not mean abandoning economic development. Green Cities is about business working with the authorities. It means finding sustainable forms of development and investment, where the economy, society and the environment are balanced.

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