In response to our discussion on the environment, Conservative Policy Forum received submissions from 94 CPF groups, representing 109 constituencies and at least 838 members across the country. Since last year’s general election a total of 185 CPF groups, 219 constituencies and at least 2,419 members have participated in CPF policy discussions. Thousands also participated last month in the first of our new online Members' policy surveys and hundreds joined us last week for the first in our new CPF video conferences.
What follows is an overview of the key points raised. A more detailed collation of policy suggestions has been presented to the Director of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, the CPF Chairman and the Party Vice-Chairman for Policy. We look forward to publishing a formal response before the summer recess.
There is widespread support for the leadership and long-term vision of the Government on the environment … but also a feeling that we “must do much more” and better communicate why “WE are the party of conservation”.
We should be questioning the whole throw-away economic model on which our society is based. It generates vast quantities of unnecessary waste, consumes masses of energy and is ultimately unsustainable. Education is key.
This is an international problem which needs international solutions. The efficient production of energy—with systems and equipment that do not pollute the environment—is the most important goal that mankind must achieve this century. The UK should become the leading nation in this and use its global influence to persuade other nations to follow our example.
Develop and then implement a coherent long-term energy policy, in harmony with the existing competitive markets in gas and electricity: Both the short and long terms recommendations from the 2017 DBEIS Cost of Energy Review authored by Prof Dieter Helm should be implemented.
Sever our dependence on other nations’ energy supply. Support was explicitly mentioned for each of the following forms of power generation:
- Solar power (54 groups)
- Nuclear power (24 groups)
- Invest in battery research for storage of micro-generation of electricity (18 groups)
- Fracking for shale gas (17 groups vs 1 objection, plus 1 mixed views)
- Tidal/wave power (17 groups)
- Hydrogen technology (7 groups)
- Methane (3 groups)
- Wind turbines (mixed views: 30 groups support vs 20 objections, plus 3 mixed)
Local Conservative Associations are keen to ensure that the country is able to make the most of the "opportunity that leaving the EU provides to strengthen and enhance our environmental protections”.
Top policy suggestions in the various sections included:
- Ensure a fit-for-purpose national recycling / reuse / recovery / disposal infrastructure is in place. This will require innovation and a joined-up post-consumer chain so that the value of plastic is retained in the economy for as long as possible.
- Establish a common, consistent labelling system for packaging, based on science.
- More laws/regulation against single-use plastic items. Eliminate all avoidable plastic waste as quickly as possible, well before the current target date of 2042.
- Give the public more information about pollutants and air quality.
- Virtually all public transport should move to have electrical power.
- There must be a better tree conservation policy within the planning laws.
- Affirm that the primary purpose of the countryside is to produce food and state what the Government’s food strategy is re both quantity (how self-sufficient we should be) and quality (what the limits of intense farming are).
- The UK should retake full control of our waters under international law.
- Fishing as an industry should be developed with many apprenticeship schemes.
- Our International Aid programme should focus more on environmental improvements.
- More than one-in-five groups called for greater use of Overseas Development Aid for global nature conservation.
- More than one-in-ten groups specified that they would like to see greater use of the Commonwealth to spread best environmental practice, such as with the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.
- Insist on good environmental practice and standards through trade agreements we negotiate after Brexit.
- Great caution was urged to any subsidy scheme or tax incentives if implemented. Get the market right: behaviour follows the market. Encourage people to look after their local environment rather than punishing them to do so.
- Facilitate improvement by investment in the research and development of technologies and infrastructure rather than direct intervention in market mechanisms.
- There were also various ideas about:
- the water industry and
- the need for more litter-picking.
To coincide with the 70th anniversary of the NHS, our latest national policy discussion picks up the important subject of health and social care. Make sure that your views are heard by joining your local Conservative association's discussion!