We can save Southern Oxfordshire’s Environment AND Meet Social Needs

Robin Bennett, Green Party Candidate for Henley, and Sue Ap-Roberts, Green Party candidate for Wantage are clear that environment protection is a positive for jobs and prosperity.

Robin Bennett says, “The Green Party will support a new Act of Parliament to protect important EU regulations, and enshrine long-term goals for the environment into law. With almost 60% of species in the UK in long-term decline, and 15% at risk of disappearing altogether, the need for a long-term plan to restore our natural world and an Environmental Court to enforce the rules - is clearer than ever. For my constituency of Henley, which includes most of South Oxfordshire, the most rural part of the county, this also has the potential to generate even more local employment in tourism, conservation and environmentally-conscious forms of agriculture(1). We already lead the way in sustainable business in this area, with entrepreneurs doing everything from hydropower to energy storage, community-supported agriculture to eco-tourism.”

Sue Roberts says that, “Since about 73% of homes in Oxfordshire are under-occupied(2), the most immediate way local councils can meet housing need is to buy homes for social and keyworker housing across southern Oxfordshire rather than supporting new-build. If we add long-term empty shopfronts, offices, industrial sites and derelict agricultural buildings, we have a massive resource to meet housing demand without destroying the environment, or undermining agriculture. Greens aim to let nature flourish by linking natural areas; so that our wildest places and urban green spaces are rich in animal and plant-life. Job creation in refurbishing homes, in agriculture and forestry could be a substantial area of sustainable development for Southern Oxfordshire (3).”

1. This would be backed up by: A Green Guarantee in Brexit negotiations and Trade Deals to ensure that all EU-derived legislation, including the Precautionary and Polluter-Pays principles, are maintained and strengthened. Also the Greens seek to create a new Office for Environmental Protection and an Environmental Court that would monitor and enforce new long-term goals for biodiversity, water and air quality.
2. From the Strategic Market Housing Assessment, 2014.
3. Additional policy areas of relevant to building a greener economy and increasing useful employment include in low-carbon and renewable energy sectors. Some details from our Environment manifesto:

Innovate and Invest in the Low-Carbon Economy
Our energy system is broken and is not delivering what households and businesses need - fuelled by dirty energy that belongs in the past, it is failing us both as customers and as citizens. The Green Party will harness the dramatically falling costs of renewable energy, and reverse the uncertainty created by years of government neglect.
• Create a new Green Investment and Innovation Centre with borrowing powers to finance the transition to a zero-carbon economy, creating a government owned hub for innovation and investment in our low-carbon economy. Without decisive action, investment in renewable energy is set to drop by 95% over next two years.
• Keep fossil fuels where they belong: in the ground. We will introduce a ban on fracking, phase-out the £6bn-a-year fossil fuel subsidies, bring forward the coal phase-out date to 2023 (at the latest), divest public funds from the fossil fuel industry, and ensure a just transition for those communities dependent on fossil fuel jobs.

Take Back Control of Our Energy System
• End the monopoly of the Big Six by building democratic, locally owned alternatives - reaching at least 42 gigawatts by 2025. We will require grid operators to give priority access to community energy projects, and pioneer a new Community Energy Toolkit to empower local communities to create energy and municipal heating projects in every town and city.
• Democratise energy ownership by reforming tax-relief for smaller-scale projects, introducing Green ISAs, promoting Green Bonds by allowing tax-free bonds for green projects, and issuing government backed Green Bonds.
• Introduce progressive energy tariffs so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones, special needs are recognised, people are not cut off when they can’t afford to pay, and nobody is forced to have pre-payment meters.

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