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‘Stand strong on environment’ Keir Starmer told as Labour conference ends

Analysis of air pollution, insulation and access to nature by Friends of the Earth has revealed Labour constituencies are disproportionately at risk from the erosion of green policies. 

According to the charity’s research, one-in-five neighbourhoods within Labour constituencies is blighted by dangerous levels of air pollution – double the recommended limits in World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance. 

Furthermore, 55% of all homes with Labour seats do not have adequate insulation which could save energy and money, while more than one-third are struggling to pay their utility bills. Labour areas are also among the most nature-deprived, with 56% lacking proper access to green space, which is widely recognised for mental health and wellbeing benefits, and improvements to environmental conditions. 

‘Keir Starmer needs to stand firm and commit Labour to tackling the environmental harms that are so damaging to people’s health, the economy, and the future prospects of young people,’ said Mike Childs, Head of Policy at Friends of the Earth.

‘With inequalities only widening, it’s not a huge surprise that air pollution and poor housing disproportionately impact people on the lowest incomes and marginalised communities,’ he continued. ‘Our new analysis demonstrates just how important these issues are to people living in existing and target Labour seats.’

The message comes as the Labour Party Conference came to an end in Liverpool yesterday. Among other things, a new plan to ‘rewire Britain’ was unveiled by the party ahead of a General Election next year. This included unblocking the huge backlog of connections to the National Grid, with £200billion of privately-funded projects ‘stuck’ in the pipeline and new connection dates now running into the late-2030s. 

In doing so, some 220,000 new jobs would be created each year between 2024 and 2025, and new infrastructure will also help deliver a target saving of £93billion from UK energy bills by the end of this decade. Taxpayers would no longer cover costs for renewable producers to cut off supply due to limitations in grid capacity, a situation described by Labour as ‘ludicrous’ which currently costs the country £62million per day. 

‘Labour’s energy policy will take back control of our energy system to deliver clean power and energy independence for Britain. With GB Energy, our publicly owned energy company, we will deliver the grid we need to slash bills for every family and business,’ said Ed Miliband MP, Shadow Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary. ‘The Conservatives are the party of stagnation and delay. Only Labour has a plan to make working people better off – and to give Britain its future back.’

Recent weeks have seen the Conservative Party roll back on several major environmental policies and goals, including biodiversity net gain and the ban on sales of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030. At the same time, the Government has promised to ‘end the war on motorists’, including the suggestion that local and regional powers to create low traffic neighbourhood and stipulate bus lane operating hours could be curbed, while approving the hugely controversial Rosebank oil field development and issuing many more new fossil fuel contracts for the North Sea. Experts have suggested these actions place the UK’s national, legally-binding net zero targets in jeopardy.

More on UK politics and the environment: 

Limiting local authority powers doubles down on Britain’s climate inaction

Government told to step up climate efforts as Conservative conference continues

UK ministers criticised for appearing at NatCon ‘climate denial conference’

Images: Keir Starmer Official Portrait (C) Creative Commons

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