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19 September 2007

Zac responds to Sian Berry

Last week the Green Party's Sian Berry criticised the Tory Quality of life group report. Here Zac Go

By Zac Goldsmith

Sian Berry complains that when the Conservative Party’s Quality of Life report was released, she spent much of the day “commenting on how disappointing it was.” That’s odd, given that she hadn’t seen or been briefed on the report.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Soil Association, WWF, ChristianAid, the Green Alliance, the Renewable Energy Association and many others have issued highly supportive press statements about the report. Why? Because it represents the biggest and bravest attempt by any mainstream political Party yet to tackle the environmental crisis we face.

Briefly – despite what she says – our extra tax on dirty cars will be matched by discounts on clean cars. Some of the proceeds of our tax on short haul flights will be used to improve the rail alternatives. Hypothecation is a key part of our report.

Berry complains that our taxes will harm the poor. In fact at every turn we have ensured the opposite. The report is about making it easier and cheaper for everyone to make the green choices currently only available to the wealthy.

Contrary to her bizarre statement that we advocate expansion of the aviation industry, we propose a moratorium on new airport extensions. And contrary to her claim that we provide ‘implicit backing for nuclear’, we propose the removal of all direct and indirect subsidies for nuclear power as well as the introduction of a waste heat levy – whose principle purpose is to incentivise investment in a decentralised energy infrastructure.

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I could go on rebutting her extraordinary claims. But there’s a much more important point to raise: why on earth – when presented with the most thorough environmental policy review ever conducted by a mainstream UK Party – is the Green Party’s immediate response to launch a Labour-style attack?

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It just doesn’t make sense.

My message to the Green party is simple; the environment is too important an issue for turf wars. Green voters know you won’t win the next election.

That’s not why they vote for you. They expect you to raise the debate, to celebrate and encourage best practice wherever it appears. They categorically don’t want you to make it even harder for mainstream Parties to act.

Read Sian Berry’s piece Green Tories? Not likely! here