By Dr Alex Chapman; climate change researcher, local campaigner and Labour candidate for Newport Pagnell North and Hanslope.
A few weeks ago Milton Keynes Labour party passed a climate emergency motion through council, pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. We recognise the impact that environmental breakdown is going to have on the future generations of Milton Keynes and recently announced wide ranging pledges to tackle climate change. Our task is made immeasurably harder by the policies this Tory government have passed which are holding back ambitious Labour councils around the country:
- Removal of subsidies to solar and wind energy
Three weeks ago the highly successful ‘Feed in Tariff’, which paid new solar installations for energy contributed to the grid, was ended by this Tory Government. This followed the banning of subsidies for onshore wind energy – even where it is supported by the community. These changes will make it considerably harder to develop community renewable energy in Milton Keynes.
- Subsidies to oil and gas and promoting fracking
At the same time the government continues to subsidise oil and gas and promote fracking despite the falling cost of renewables. These decisions increase the carbon intensity of the energy used in and around Milton Keynes. The easy ride the government have given to multi-national energy companies also includes their failure to implement a price cap which protects MK consumers from profiteering firms.
- Empowering developers to dodge legislation
The Tory government have empowered developers to dodge policies put in place by local authorities aimed at creating environmentally sustainable and affordable developments. If a developer doesn’t like a policy they can move to appeal and the decision is taken out of the local authority’s control. This system has made a major contribution to our current housing crisis.
- Forcing privatisation of bus services
Legislation passed by the Tory government in 2016 prevents councils from creating publicly owned bus companies. Without proper control over bus services it is very difficult for councils to take the steps necessary to decarbonise our transport system and to make it affordable and accessible to all.
- Failing to invest in rail infrastructure
For many years Milton Keynes Labour have supported the re-opening of the Oxford-Cambridge rail line. The line is a vital piece of infrastructure needed for the expansion proposed in our region. Progress on the line has stalled under the last nine years of Tory-led government, yet now they are pushing through a large new ‘expressway’ road project. This project will work contrary to our climate change commitments, especially if no extra funding is provided to boost sustainable public and active transport options alongside it.
As well as forging ahead with our plans for a zero-carbon MK, Milton Keynes Labour Party will continue to lobby government for changes to sustainability legislation in the interests of our residents and our planet.