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New Stewardship: Cardigan unveils bold environmental pledges
New Stewardship: Cardigan unveils bold environmental pledges

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Speaking at a rally of activists, journalists, scientists, and members of the public in his home constituency of Montgomery, along with assorted press, Alex Cardigan today unveiled new Democrat environmental policy. In characteristically bouncy fashion, he did so having taken a gaggle of press on a walkaround of Welshpool. The event was hosted in a large Methodist church hall.

“Here we are, in beautiful Powys. Stunning, isn’t it? I am the luckiest man on earth for having been able to grow up in these hills and valleys, and I hope that the train journeys & windy country roads were traversable enough for all of you joining us here today. I felt that for today’s policy announcement - one which I want to be a clear sign that my party are going to raise a new issue to the top of the political agenda - this would be appropriate. Because, for me, as a lifelong Methodist, and in a nation where the vast majority are still adherents to Christianity or another Abrahamic religion, I feel that putting everyone in mind of the earth’s beauty is well worth doing from time-to-time. It is also worth putting everyone in mind of the fact that we are not doing enough to protect that beauty.”

“Britain, for too long, and at great political pain, has been the dirty man of Europe. The Government has made some platitudes to the environmental cause over the last few years, but I fear that for those of us who believe in that good, rooted, Christian concept - of our duty to be stewards for the Earth, for the next generation - we are not doing enough. We are on the verge of a green energy revolution that must be embraced fully, not half-heartedly grappled with. That is why I feel that at the moment, the Government just aren’t doing a good enough job. We have seen platitudes to our natural world, and some investment, but we are looking at an issue that is frankly existential - more has to be done. However, all that in mind, I also want to be constructive here - solutions need be provided by politicians like myself. And I want the Liberal Democrats to be the champion of our environment, and to lead the progressive cause here.”

“Green jobs are going to be one of the great employers, going forward. Energy is one of those industries that will always employ, even if it may change shape, or size. The public investments we are seeing at the moment are all well and good, but there is still not enough incentive for private enterprise. Businesses, in this very constituency, could make real and palpable savings if they invested in microgeneration schemes. If the Government makes this a feasible financial decision, for business and the public alike, the industry will boom and employ even more people. Given the staggeringly poor record on unemployment of the Conservative Party, surely new jobs and a growing green industry would be a welcome change, I’m sure. Just giving a grant which means it is possible to invest in enough solar panels to provide, say, hot water, or, for those - like us - in rural areas, to invest in mini-wind energy, individuals would make major savings. Businesses would have more to invest in. And we’d be greener and cleaner for it. That is why I want to see a grant fund of £250 million for microgeneration schemes, saving people & entrepreneurs money, whilst keeping our planet clean. I also want to make something clear - local authorities should administer this, and democratic planning processes must be followed. The days of imposing top-down policy like this have to go, this should be done with local people and communities in mind, and at the heart of proposing new microgeneration projects.”

“I want to see bold new standards set for planning, too. Microgeneration should be encouraged for the building new homes, and we should make it easier for local authorities and developers alike to build, if they are meeting environmental standards. I want to see us adopt new environmental standards for all buildings, commercial and domestic. The introduction a strict requirement for energy audits on all new buildings as a pre-condition of grants for energy-saving measures should be another statutory duty - again, done locally, so there is a real, community-led democratic practise going on amidst this. Homes which meet these new, higher standards should be exempt from stamp duty on house purchase, meaning that individuals save, and the cost of housing is brought down, all whilst our planet is once again protected. We will encourage shared combined heat and power schemes, and encourage those planning new houses to take into account the scope for passive solar heating. It is not an impossibility to have a whole new industry in green housing, microgeneration, and serious green public investment that leads to serious growth in private enterprise.”

“The Prime Minister has made a laudable attempt to open new green spaces in urban areas. This is all well and good, however, to me, something clear was missing - the opportunity to really expand the use of allotments, as a clean and rewarding way to grow food, even in our big growing cities. As a green-fingered chap, and keen gardener myself, I think this would be a fantastic way to go. Let’s put allotments on the agenda, again, for local authorities, and offer central grants to big city & town councils to encourage this. Growing your own food is surely the most ecologically sound way forward, where possible. Encouraging allotments is how we do this on a micro scale - the way we do it on a macro scale is by setting up a National Food Council with an aim of importing less food on polluting voyages, promoting real reform to the Common Agricultural Policy, and with an express aim of supporting British farmers & their seasonal fruit and veg. If we all eat British food, in season, that has travelled 10 miles - as opposed to 10,000 - then the impact on the planet, and on local economies like those here in Powys, and across rural Britain, will be immense. We need to be the champions of CAP reform, but we need a real long-term strategy to do so. Creating a National Food Council to guide that strategy, and promote eating seasonal British food will be great for our planet, great for our farmers, and great for local economies."

“Lastly, to end with a really bold policy, I want Britain to drive the creation of a Europe-wide Environmental Agency, with real power to subsidise and penalise. We are not going to save the planet on our own, and, as I have always said, as a nation with real influence and reach abroad, it is our duty to lead the way. Pioneering the creation of an Environmental Agency for all of Europe, too, is no distraction from the roots of the community. After all, what began for coal and energy, and for jobs in industry, should continue in that tradition, of pan-European co-operation. We should never be afraid to make our voice heard abroad, and, when our children ask us how we fought to protect the planet, this would be a fantastic step forward. The recent Rome Negotiations show that when British diplomats go abroad with serious, well planned proposals, they are taken seriously. The Liberal Democrats believe in a more democratic Europe, and it is crucial to the whole project that the community works together for progressive change. As a set of nations which are, by nature, Christian - though diverse, of course - I think that our message of the importance of environmental stewardship for generations to come would go down rather well, too.”

“We are on the verge of a green jobs revolution. We are on the verge of finding new industries which can help our ailing economy, employ people, and make our planet cleaner and greener for the next generation. The Conservatives will never embrace change wholeheartedly, by their very nature. Labour have displayed themselves to be behind the times, again and again, when it comes to these issues - on industry, they are beholden to the old ways of the old men who run old unions. The Liberal Democrats have a clear plan for green jobs, leadership in Europe, and environmental stewardship. I want us to lead this battle, and win it - and I know that people are on our side whilst we do so.”

Cardigan left the stage to chat to journalists, and have photographs taken, and that sort of thing, in a chatty manner.
This is an interesting example of Cardigan choosing to take the fight to the Conservatives on an issue that the Government have attempted to carve out as their own.

The Liberal Democrat leader begins by criticising Conservative history on the environment and goes further than Myerscough in pointing out what more could be done. His comments also criticise Labour for lack of action on the environment, showcasing why his party can be the alternative on this issue.

In particular, Cardigan's call for expanding allotments and eating more British grown food goes down well and gains traction amongst the right audiences.

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