Elections 2021: Where do the parties stand on the environment

We look at the green pledges made by local parties ahead of the May elections

There is still time to get your questions in for our election hustings. Email them to sarahward@nnjournal.co.uk

By Natalie Bloomer

As part of our election coverage we’ll be taking a closer look at the main parties’ manifestos and letting you know where they stand on the key issues. 

In the first of this series we are setting out the parties’ pledges on the environment. There was a time when this issue wasn’t taken very seriously by many politicians but that’s no longer the case. Most of the candidates asking for your vote will have something to say about their party’s green policies. 

Some of the manifestos were easier to find online and much more detailed than others. Some of the parties have chosen not to publish one at all and are instead listing their key priorities in campaign leaflets. In all cases we have read through the information that is publicly available and pulled out the pledges so you can easily find out about the issues that matter to you.

West Northamptonshire

West Northants Green Party (National party manifesto available):

The party’s national manifesto details a Green New Deal which is broken down into categories. These are national policies not specific to Northamptonshire but can be read in full in the manifesto.

West Northants Conservatives (Full manifesto available): 

  • Will insist that all suppliers to West Northants Council (WNC) provide evidence of their green credentials.

  • Commit to all new vehicles purchased by WNC to be Zero Emissions where they are available and fit for purpose.

  • For similar cars to those above they will provide free parking in all the towns under WNC’s parking control.

  • All WNC’s car parks to have at least one charging point and the total number in West Northants to increase from 47 to 250 by the end of the first term. 

  • Use planning policy to ensure all new homes have electric car charging ports. 

  • A ‘Climate Action Now Summit’ to be held by 1st Jan 2022 to discuss various green policies.

  • Look at incentives for business owners who use spare land/buildings/rooftop space to create solar farms to generate their own energy, the provision of support for firms who can help in the drive to eliminate single use plastic and help for retailers who provide refill facilities for the most basic items.

  • Look at community gardens to encourage families to grow food and foster community spirit and save on carbon waste and plastics use. 

  • Investigate the viability for a battery recycling facility to manage the increase in batteries which are being disposed of 

  • Welcome suggestions from residents to add to the agenda of the summit and welcome members of the existing climate forums.

  • Plant wildflower verges across the area to increase the development of wildlife species and improve the appearance of our towns and villages. 

  • Develop and implement a Corporate Tree Policy for West Northamptonshire and, where possible, use council land to plant more trees.

West Northants Labour (Full manifesto available):

  • West Northamptonshire Council’s operations to be Carbon Neutral no later than 2030 and seeking much faster progress to carbon neutrality in areas where possible.

  • Ensure the Council’s investments are consistent with its values and that no investments are made in institutions engaged in or connected to the extraction, processing or sale of fossil fuels. 

  • Provide opportunities for a big switch to a green energy supplier for all organisations and residents.  

  • Make all Council buildings energy-efficient with solar panels, heat pumps and other green technologies 

  • Ensure our Council vehicles use alternative energy sources to petrol and diesel.  

  • Encourage the use of electric vehicles and the installation of electric charging points in all the main shopping centres.  

  • Work with local businesses and organisations, schools and residents to reduce waste and to repurpose and recycle more.  

  • Require new buildings, whether residential or commercial, to be energy-efficient and heated, at least in part, by green technologies, and to be equipped with charging points for electric vehicles.  

  • A major programme of planting trees and shrubs to help absorb carbon emissions, as well as to provide new areas of woodland for recreation. 

  • Increase air quality across West Northants by reducing emissions. Key to this will be an integrated and sustainable transport plan to reduce the number of high polluting cars on our roads and improve community and public transport to make it affordable and efficient. 

  • An education and enforcement programme to stop vehicles idling and damaging air quality

  • A Citizens’ Assembly to involve residents in helping West Northamptonshire Council develop its strategy and plans for tackling climate change. 

West Northants Lib Dems (Full manifesto available)

  • Develop a net zero carbon strategy with the ambition of reducing the council’s carbon footprint immediately and the ambition of net zero carbon by 2030 or sooner if at all feasible. 

  • Focus on three main areas of influence with the above objective in mind - Direct influence (estate, offices, operations and procurement); Indirect influence (planning policy, standards and licensing); Leadership by example (communities and partnerships).

  • Introduce a workplace levy or similar initiative to fund sustainable transport.

  • Ensure that new/revised third party contracts such as waste collections, have electrification (or other means of greener energy) as part of procurement contracts. 

  • Require all taxis to be electric through licensing, possibly offering incentives to move to electric. 

  • Further encourage and enable energy saving behaviour by all council staff. 

  • Ensure council’s procurement strategy specifies that low carbon lights and appliances are acquired. 

  • Switch street lighting to LED where this hasn’t already taken place. 

  • Require the integration of renewable energy such as solar thermal, PV or heat pumps in local authority owned buildings.

  • Identify areas suitable for renewable energy in the local plan.

  •  Invest in the development of renewable energy and energy storage. 

  • Cut the council’s waste by only producing papers electronically. 

  • Use food waste according to the food waste hierarchy of prevent, reuse, recycle, and use remaining biodegradable waste to generate biogas.

  • Support SME businesses in particular to access funds and expertise for reducing carbon pollution.

  • Encourage and support schools to cut carbon e.g. through participating in the LESS CO2 programme and through accessing salix finance. 

  • Engage with schools to ensure meals are delivered in accordance with the official Eatwell guide and the majority of options on menus are healthy and plant-based, with less and better meat. 

  • Through procurement ensure the local authority supply chain is minimising carbon emissions.  

North Northamptonshire

North Northants Green Party (National manifesto available for North and West Northants)

Details of the party’s national manifesto pledges are listed under the West Northants Green Party heading.

North Northants Conservatives (Manifesto is a one page grid of pledges):

  • Enhance systems to reduce waste and promote recycling

  • Improve the environment locally and grow the green economy

North Northants Labour (Full manifesto available):

  • Explore setting up a Climate Crises resource centre to coordinate local data, provide advice and training, and guide the unitary authority on specific issues such as the quality of local water resources and any threat to biodiversity. 

  • Set up a Citizens’ Assembly to give residents a voice on climate issues and increase engagement. 

  • Aim to make the Unitary Council carbon neutral by 2030 by taking actions such as an energy audit of all council premises, planting more trees and installing more wind and solar powered street lights. 

  • An environmental impact thread running through all policy making and require all departments to include the subject in all reports.

  • Look to standardise infrastructure across the new unitary and bring new technology such as electric charging points to areas that are lagging behind. 

  • Aim to achieve a carbon neutral North Northamptonshire by 2030 by developing strategies for waste collection, recycling and energy recovery that will protect the environment going forward. 

  • Look at a waste management site within the area as these facilities currently exist outside the county.

  • Monitor air quality and respond swiftly when actionable levels are reached in our region

  • Ensure there are sufficient sustainability officers to monitor the protection of the natural environment and biodiversity. 

  • Task officers with making a priority of seeking solutions to reduce the risks of droughts and flooding, solutions against heat stress and protection of local biodiversity. 

  • Work closely with volunteers to boost tree planting, tree care, pro-forestation and rewilding of suitable areas.

  • Prioritise energy efficiency and the reduction of fuel poverty. 

  • Work with partners in North Northamptonshire and beyond, local businesses and social enterprises on a campaign to achieve sustainable solutions. 

  • Facilitate upskilling and training for Green Jobs, to boost a green recovery post Covid.

North Northants Lib Dems (List of priorities printed in campaign leaflets but extra details provided to us by Chris Stanbra, candidate for Oakley Ward in Corby):

  • Council will bring people together to take action on climate change

  • Keep the area clean, tidy and well maintained

  • Implement the Climate Change Framework for North Northamptonshire which was the result of the Scrutiny Task and Finish Group.

  • Make £200k available from the council's reserves to kickstart action. This will include convening a Citizen’s Assembly as a matter of urgency.

  • Declare a climate emergency at the first opportunity and designate a cabinet member with responsibility for the environment and climate change action.

  • Take urgent action to increase recycling by residents and remove barriers to recycling.

  • The council will be at the forefront of action to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points across our area.

  • Urgently bring forward a new local plan with climate change action at its heart and incorporate action on climate change into the council's planning policy.

  • The council will use its powers to improve air quality in our towns.

  • Undertake a feasibility study, paid for out of council reserves, to look at installing microgeneration (solar panels, ground source heat pumps, small scale wind turbines etc etc) on council owned homes to reduce emissions and to put money back into the pockets of tenants.

  • Set up a task force to work with local retailers such as supermarkets and fast food outlets to reduce the waste they generate from excess packaging.

  • Seek to build on and encourage the litter picking work done by groups like the Corby Wombles and the Kettering Wombles.

  • Work to increase bus use and explore the possibility of piloting bus subsidies to see if greatly reduced fares increase use.

  • Will green the council, further reducing energy use in council buildings and installing solar panels or other microgeneration on council owned buildings.

  • Move the council quickly to using only electric vehicles. The only exception being where the vehicle performs a specialist function and electric power is not suitable.

  • Aim to plant one tree for every resident in North Northamptonshire, every year, for as long as is necessary.