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UK coalition Government announces environmental policies

Ecologist

12th May, 2010

The new coalition Government has agreed on their environmental policies for the next parliament, including the scrapping of the new third runway at Heathrow

The new Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has published their revised environmental commitments, including the immediate scrapping of the third runway at Heathrow and a plan for a tax on every flight to replace the existing air passenger duty.

However, the parties have maintained a split on the issue of nuclear power. The Liberal Democrats remain opposed to any new nuclear power stations but the Conservatives will be allowed to bring plans allowing new construction to go ahead before parliament. The Liberal Democrats will abstain from any vote on the matter.

The coalition agreement in full:

  • The establishment of a smart grid and the roll-out of smart meters.
  • The full establishment of feed-in tariff systems in electricity – as well as the maintenance of banded ROCs (incentives for large-scale, commercial renewable energy systems).
  • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with sufficient CCS to meet the emissions performance standard.
  • The refusal of additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
  • The replacement of the Air Passenger Duty with a per flight duty.
  • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as efforts to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits.
  • Mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
  • Continuation of the former Government’s proposals for public sector investment in CCS technology for four coal-fired power stations; and a specific commitment to reduce central government carbon emissions by 10 per cent within 12 months.
  • Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy.
  • We have agreed a process that will allow Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to bring forward the national planning statement for ratification by Parliament so that new nuclear construction becomes possible.

This process [on nuclear] will involve:

  • The government completing the drafting of a national planning statement and putting it before Parliament;
  • Specific agreement that a Liberal Democrat spokesman will speak against the planning statement, but that Liberal Democrat MPs will abstain; and
  • Clarity that this will not be regarded as an issue of confidence.
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