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  • Article: Apr 11, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    The improvement in air quality that we saw during lockdowns brought the issue, an early target of environmentalism, to the fore of public attention. The moment provided us with insight into what might be possible for future air quality in our communities.

    Given the significant threat to health and well-being that poor air quality represents, raising awareness of the transformative impact that local initiatives can have is a vital campaign point.

    YouGov polling found that across six European countries, two thirds said they did not want to go back to pre-Covid pollution levels. Roughly the same proportion (68%) agreed that cities and towns must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, even if it means preventing polluting cars from entering city centres to protect clean air, with as many as 63% of drivers themselves in support.

    Around three quarters (74%) of respondents believed that cities must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, with just 10% opposed.

    We have an opportunity, as we look forward, to improve the health of people and the planet.

    The Problem:

    Air Pollution is the most significant environmental threat to health in the UK, responsible for 36,000 early deaths every year. It causes the development of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and lung cancer.

    Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is the primary cause of damage, with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) also responsible.

    Children are at greater risk from air pollution, with those living in polluted areas more likely to have reduced lung growth. Maternal exposure to polluted air can result in premature and low birth-weight babies.

    A quarter of UK children attend schools with air pollution above the World Health Organisation limit, placing 3.4 million young people at increased risk of asthma, obesity, and cognitive impairments.

    Schools should be safe places. They should not threaten the health of our children.

    However, the United Kingdom's national limits for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are set at four times the level of the World Health Organisation guidelines, and the principal source of these are traffic emissions, with wood-burning stoves also being a major contributing factor in some areas.

    Following the tragic death of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, air pollution was listed as a cause of death for the first time in December of 2020. In a report to prevent future deaths, the coroner recommended a reduction in national limits of particulate matter.

    The Solution:

    At Liberal Democrats 2022 Spring Conference, the Party passed motion F9: Action to Improve Air Quality, proposed by Cllr Hina Bokhari AM and Summated by Cllr Jon Ball.

    The Motion calls on local authorities to:

    1. Install more pollution sensors near major roads and at every urban school.

    2. Publicise local air quality issues including publishing live pollution levels from their pollution sensors stating specific levels of pollutants using globally recognised units of measurement.

    3. Work to improve air quality in their area.

    4. Take into account likely differential air pollution changes in different roads when designing traffic schemes.

    5. Consider implementing or extending Clean Air Zones, in consultation with residents and local businesses to ensure that such zones reduce net pollution and don't merely displace activity

    6. Promote schemes to allow the rapid and affordable replacement of petrol and diesel vehicles by lower polluting vehicles by local businesses in conjunction with the introduction of Clean Air zones.

    7. Establish No-Idling Zones outside schools.

    Conference also called for the Government to:

    1. Urgently bring forward statutory instruments under the Environment Act 2021 to introduce legally binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants at or below current WHO guidelines.

    2. Introduce a fully-funded obligation for all local authorities to install and maintain pollution sensors in their areas.

    3. Introduce a scrappage scheme targeted at the most polluting older vehicles, in particular old diesel vehicles, and at vehicles used by local businesses in proposed Clean Air Zones.

    4. Introduce targeted funding to provide financial support for the operators of buses, taxis and private hire vehicles to switch to less polluting technologies.

    5. Increase the Air Quality Grant Programme which provides funding to local authorities to tackle locally identified air pollution issues.

    6. Encourage local authorities to run public education style programmes and allow them to follow these with an increased maximum penalty that they can apply to drivers leaving their engines idling, with the local authorities retaining 100% of the money raised.

    7. Fund local authorities to introduce more electric charging points in Clean Air Zones, allowing supply to keep ahead of demand.

    Read the full motion here

    The Campaign:

    We've produced a pack of essential resources for campaigning on improving air quality:

    P.S: We don't have long now until Polling Day, but we are doing everything we can to support campaigners like you to deliver for your communities.

    Donate to support our efforts
  • Local Electricity Briefing
    Article: Apr 4, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    We've teamed up with Power for People to support local campaigners to advocate for the essential Local Electricity Bill.

    We must urgently decarbonise our power grid and reduce the influence of unstable overseas fossil fuel prices. Community-scale renewables are a great solution; providing green, clean energy that stimulates local economies.

    Spiking energy prices have highlighted our dependence on imported oil and gas, enabling petrostate autocrats to act with few consequences.

    Energy independence is essential and can only be achieved at the pace we require through a combination of large-scale infrastructure investment and local developments.

    But unfair regulations and disproportionate costs are stifling opportunity.

    The Problem:

    If you want to buy your electricity from local renewable sources such as the nearby school that has solar panels on its roof, you cannot. We all buy our electricity from a utility company that sources it from anything connected to the National Grid, be it a field of solar panels in Flintshire or a coal fired power station in Yorkshire.

    There is so much potential for energy to be generated, bought, and sold locally - but the supply costs and red tape involved make it almost impossible to do so.

    In 2014, a report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change whilst Ed Davey MP was Secretary of State found that community energy had the potential to produce over 3,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity by 2020.

    However, the Environmental Audit Committee reported in 2020 that only 278MW of capacity was being produced by the community energy sector, less than 10% of that projected.

    Imagine someone setting up a local bakery, planning to deliver their bread to local businesses, and then being told that they have to pay £1 million in road tax for their delivery van.

    This is the reality for local renewable energy production.

    The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that the financial, technical, and operational challenges involved in setting up a licensed energy supply company mean that initial costs exceed £1 million. The market structure is rigged against them.

    The Solution:

    As a result of its 2021 Technological Innovations and Climate Change inquiry, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee recommended that a 'Right to Local Supply' be established.

    The Local Electricity Bill, written and advocated for by Power for People, would establish this Right to Local Supply and make the setup and running costs of selling renewable electricity to local customers affordable and proportionate to the size of the supply company.

    So far, the Bill has been supported by 300 cross-party MPs and the Liberal Democrats, but will not become law without sustained and organised campaigning.

    You can read the full bill here.

    The Campaign:

    We've produced three essential resources for campaigning on the Local Electricity Bill:

    P.S: We have plenty more briefings coming down the road for campaigners and candidates just like yourself! Be sure to share this with fellow activists and encourage them to join us for more of the same!

  • Article: Apr 1, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    This year, we're donating bundles of 1,000 petitions to our Accredited Candidates across the length and breadth of the UK. These petitions allow us to present solutions to the issues that matter to so many - sewage, clean air, energy bills - and let them know that we hear their frustrations.

    Your generous membership dues and donations have allowed us to do so much already, but in 2022 we are campaigning at an unprecedented scale to support marginal and target wards.

    That is why we're launching the LEAF - the Local Environment Action Fund - designed to support campaigning Liberal Democrats who have committed to delivering greener, cleaner, healthier communities.

    We'd love if you could chip in to support our efforts:

    Our Accredited Candidates

    Our Candidates are selected by a Panel following a process in which they outline how they plan to improve their local environment by tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, and improving community spaces.

    Sanne Dijkstra-Downie is standing in Forth Ward for the City of Edinburgh Council.

    Sanne is the Scottish Liberal Democrats Net Zero Spokesperson. In her day job, she works as a fundraiser for climate research and teaching at the University of Edinburgh, where she helped to set up an Ocean Leadership programme.

    She is passionate about environmental issues and low-carbon travel, is an early adopter of the electric car and once travelled to Bordeaux and back in 30 charging stops!

    A Greener Forth Ward:

    Sanne pledges to work with local organisations and council officers to drive installation of electric vehicle charging points, allowing more residents to make the needed switch to zero emissions vehicles.

    A Cleaner Forth Ward:

    Sanne pledges to continue working with Wardie Bay Beachwatch, residents, and wild swimmer groups to call for water testing in Wardie Bay, to evidence water quality (and work towards improvements) for the benefit of people and marine wildlife.

    A Healthier Forth Ward:

    Sanne calls for better and safer active travel routes for all. Cycle routes throughout Edinburgh are limited and feel unsafe to many, especially after dark. These routes can be improved through better lighting, keeping vegetation in check, and dedicated infrastructure.

    To join Sanne and bid for 1,000 free leaflets courtesy of the LEAF, apply here

  • Sewage
    Article: Mar 28, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    We've found that of all the problems facing us, many of our campaigners are finding the sewage crisis to be particularly resonant on the doorstep.

    The rural equivalent of air quality in cities, 36% of UK voters said they would be less likely to vote for an MP who did not support a ban on raw sewage dumped in rivers, rising to 41% of those who voted Conservative in 2019.

    In this Green Liberal Democrat Sewage Briefing, we'll discuss the problem we face, the solutions proposed by our party, and how we campaign on this issue to win seats and drive change.

    The Problem:

    Water companies made £2.8 billion of collective profits in 2020 and discharged raw sewage 400,000 times - for more than 3.1 million hours total.

    Shockingly, these figures are low-end estimates.

    They only encompass events self-reported by companies, and we are aware that not every incident is filed. For example, Southern Water were recently fined £90 million after they admitted 6,971 illegal discharges between 2010 and 2015.

    While some releases may be partially treated, storm overflows are raw and diluted only by rainwater. As a result, they contain anything that goes down the drain, from human waste to household chemicals and plastics.

    Also, following the impact on the UK's supply chains from Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government enabled companies to discharge sewage at any time if there are a lack of treatment chemicals.

    Beyond just being unpleasant, sewage causes serious damage to waterway ecosystems, plant, animal, and human health.

    43% of river water bodies were impacted in 2020. Only 14% of rivers in the UK are of 'Good Ecological Status' within the Water Framework Metric, and over half of England's rivers fail to pass cleanliness tests.

    Sewage released into rivers contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. These stimulate the growth of algae such as phytoplankton in the water or mats known as biofilms in the sediments, which can lead to algal blooms.

    Algal blooms block light needed for photosynthesis. Plants die, and are then eaten by bacteria which reduce oxygen in the water. Simultaneously, microorganisms decompose sewage and use oxygen from the water for aerobic respiration. Low levels of oxygen in water represents a significant threat to fish and insects.

    In UK waters, burbot and sturgeon are already extinct, while salmon - the so-called King of Fish - has suffered significant declines since the 1960s, and the European eel remains critically endangered.

    Toxic algae is also simulated by the nutrients from sewage dumping, producing chemicals that are dangerous to not only fish, but to humans or dogs that ingest the water.

    Surfers Against Sewage found that raw material had been discharged 3,000 times into English and Welsh bathing water beaches in 2020, linked to 153 reported sicknesses, primarily gastroenteritis and infectious diarrhoea.

    The Solution:

    At Spring Conference 2022, the Liberal Democrats passed a motion supported by the Green Liberal Democrats, proposed by Tim Farron MP and summated by our Vice Chair of Campaigns Cllr Pippa Heylings.

    The motion calls on the Government to:

    1) Set meaningful targets and deadlines for water companies to end sewage discharges.

    2) Introduce a Sewage Tax on water companies profits to fund the cleanup of waterways.

    3) Reduce the number of licences given to water companies permitting them to discharge sewage into rivers.

    4) Strengthen Ofwat's powers to monitor the annual financial plans and reports of the water companies in order to compel them to achieve a fair and transparent balance between consumer prices, shareholder dividend, staff remuneration and ongoing long-term investment in storm water infrastructure.

    5) Add local environmental groups onto water companies' boards.

    6) Work with local authorities to ensure water companies protect our rivers and seas by:

    i) Water companies being required to invest upfront in sewerage infrastructure to reflect environmental objectives in Local Plans and planning applications.

    ii) Identifying powers of local authorities under the statutory duty to promote wellbeing of the area and provide councils with the funding to meet this duty.

    The Campaign:

    P.S: If you know a fellow local campaigner who would find this briefing useful, feel free to share it with them and encourage them to join us for more guidance and resources throughout the year!

  • Spring Conference Green Guide
    Article: Mar 11, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    Throughout Spring Conference this weekend, there are a vast quantity of environmentally considered motions, fringe discussions, and speeches.

    We've collated them together to help you organise your calendar. We hope to see you at many of these, getting stuck in with all that Conference has to offer.

    If you have yet to sign up:

    Register Here

    P.S: If you're a first-timer who has never been to Conference, you can register for just £5 and get full access.

    Friday 11th March

    15:05 - 15:35: Policy Motion - COP15 and the UK Government
    Mover: Kate Parminter
    Summation: Richard Benwell

    17:40 - 18:45: Fringe - Green Liberal Democrats
    Legal Remedies for Climate Change

    18:45 - 19:00: Speech - Cllr Pippa Heylings
    PPC for South Cambridgeshire and Vice Chair Campaigns, Green Liberal Democrats

    19:05 - 19:50: Policy Motion - Action to Improve Air Quality
    Mover: Cllr Hina Bokhari AM
    Summation: Cllr Jon Ball

    Saturday 12th March

    11:40 - 12:20: Policy Motion - Ending Sewage Discharges
    Mover: Tim Farron MP
    Summation: Cllr Pippa Heylings

    14:45 - 15:45: Question and answer session: Sir Ed Davey MP

    16:35 - 17:40: Fringe - Green Liberal Democrats
    Energy Security: Breaking our Addiction to Fossil Fuels

    16:35 - 17:40: Fringe - LGA Liberal Democrat Group, ALDC, York Lib Dems
    The Local Race to Net Zero

    16:35 - 17:40: Fringe - Defra Spokesperson Q&A
    Tim Farron MP and Baroness Bakewell

    19:20 - 20:00: Back British Farmers
    Mover: Tim Farron MP
    Summation: Helen Morgan MP

    Sunday 13th March

    09:30 - 10:45: Emergency Motions or Topical Issue Discussions

    11:50 - 13:00: Speech - Sir Ed Davey MP

    13:00 - 14:15: Fringe - Green Liberal Democrats
    Local Government Action for COP27

    19:35 - 20:10: Policy Motion - COP27 and Climate Empowerment
    Mover: Cllr Pippa Heylings
    Summation: ALDC

  • ALDC x GLD
    Article: Feb 16, 2022
    By Green Liberal Democrats

    We've missed in-person events. That's why ALDC have launched Spring Conference Live in York, from 12-13th March.

    This is a weekend of training, panel discussions, catching up with friends, fellow campaigners, our MPs and Peers.

    Plus - attend the Leaders Speech Live from the Auditorium at the York Park Inn.

  • Article: Jan 29, 2022
    By Julia Ewart

    Back in 2021 there was a little flurry of excitement in the GLD Admin team when Francis Thomas was appointed as the Political Assistant to the group, whilst Julia Ewart came along and offered her energy to the team.

    In the short term Julia was seconded to the Membership team and she's worked along with Francis and the out going Membership Officer to 'tidy up' the membership list and to get the admin programme on track. Francis wrote a clear and punchy questionnaire to analyse the GLD offer and members were candid in their replies.

  • Article: Jan 29, 2022
    By Jason Billin

    Proposer - Jason Billin

    To separate out the roles of Treasurer and Membership Development Officer.

    As follows:

    6) Executive Committee

    Change:

    a Membership of the Executive Committee shall consist of seven elected officers [Chair, Vice Chair-Political, Vice Chair-Organisation, Vice Chair-Communications, Vice-Chair Campaigns, Youth Officer and Honorary Treasurer]; six elected ordinary members; and up to four additional co-opted ordinary members, in addition to those co-opted to fill any vacancies. Any vacancies occurring on the Executive Committee through resignation shall be filled by recounting the election in which the candidate was elected, redistributing his / her votes to their second preferences at the first stage. Any vacancies occurring through a lack of candidates may be filled by the Executive Committee by co-option.

  • Article: Jan 29, 2022
    By Jason Billin

    "You're still muted!" Another year of Zoom meetings and the odd excursion to help fight by-elections

    2021 has continued to pose difficulties due to remote working and social distancing.

    If, like me, you are involved in multiple voluntary and work-based teams, meetings sat at the desk, or on mobile phone (see, I can multi-task) tend to blur into one another…

  • Keith Melton's Chair (Keith Melton)
    Article: Jan 21, 2022
    By Keith Melton

    2021 - GLD Chair`s Report

    In the interests of developing synergy, I thought I would write an article for the Green Liberal Democrat website that would also function as my Chair`s Report to the GLD AGM to be held on Saturday 29th January. So, it would be good to see as many of you there as we can manage to get along.