“What About The Environment?”

gmelects

What About The Environment ?
Friday 28th April 2017
Venue: Friends Meeting House, Manchester

#NorthernGreenhouse #EvoManc

Thank you to the organisers – it is through the hard work of the environmental community in Greater Manchester that we were even having this event

“What About The Environment ?” is a great name for the event – the debate on the environment was the last of months of Mayoral hustings, even this illustrates that the environment is just an after-thought for most politicians, and perhaps an opportunity to hoover up a few more votes if you say the word “green” often enough

In this event it was difficult to work out what was politico “greenwash” speak and what are actually manageable solutions; there were several “elephants in the room”, there were general “greenwash” answers to some questions about big business, but the name Peel Holdings was never mentioned !

There were questions on the Carbon Budget, the “F” word – Fracking, divestment of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund from fossil fuels to more ethical, green energy, a Diesel Vehicle Ban, Allotments, How Do We Save The Greenbelt ?, Housing / Retro-fitting, How Do We Halt The Wildlife Decline in Greater Manchester ?, the River Irwell floods, How Can We Exploit The Green Economy, Where Is The Money Coming From ?, How Can We Save Nutsford Vale & Pomona, How Much More Pollution Can The River Irwell Take ?, How Can We Reduce The Amount Of Aeroplane Flights ? and What Can Be Done About Food Waste

All the candidates were in general agreement of the need to start again with the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, ban fracking, divest the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and make Manchester the Greenest City Ever !

Ratings out of 10 for each candidate, based on quality of answers, crowd reaction, substance, ecological knowledge, style and party politics

1. WILL PATTERSON – GREEN PARTY (Rating 8/10)

Environmental Priorities

1. Create 50,000 Green Jobs
2. Tackling Greater Manchester traffic congestion
3. Fracking ban
4. Better local rail NOT HS2
5. Begin divestment during National Divestment Week 2017

Will Patterson started the event firmly saying “Climate change is happening now” recognising the urgency of the need to act now on the environment

The business world is moving rapidly in a greener direction, and the plan to create 50,000 Green Jobs, balancing economy and ecology is an election winning policy, it could begin to solve environmental issues and social issues at the same time (such as unemployment and training/skills for young people)

Will Patterson also spoke of the need to localise the economy and encourage residents to take more local holidays at our great Northern tourism sites such as Blackpool & Southport

The biggest cheer of the event was for Will Patterson saying “We are going to build a Frack Free Greater Manchester”, the crowd knowing that this was being spoken with the conviction of a candidate whose party has relentlessly campaigned on the front-line against fracking, “No to fracking! Not here! Not anywhere! Sajid Javid (the Conservative politician who over-turned local democracy in Lancashire) is in the pockets of the frackers! We have to be clever in the fight against fracking and target Cuadrillas’ suppliers! We need to get tough on Ecocide!”

Will Patterson also spoke with conviction about the need to ban the moral obscenity that is Trident – although it is not on the list of Mayoral powers it would be great to see a Greater Manchester Mayor campaigning for this

2. ANDY BURNHAM – LABOUR PARTY (Rating 5/10)

Environmental Priorities

1. Illegal air quality
2. Clean Energy Public Transport
3. Cycling Revolution
4. City Of Trees
5. Ban fracking

Andy Burnhams’ best policy on the environment is the call for a “Greater Manchester Peoples’ Green Conference”, however, with a caveat of “within the first year of office”, this was heckled/questioned – why should we wait that long ? Climate change and the environment are exceedingly urgent issues and we haven’t got time to waste, especially as Greater Manchester has many talented citizens who can contribute in this situation

Andy Burnham spoke of the success of Pennington Flash Country Park, that we need to learn from cities such as Liverpool about enhancing the city and initiatives such as City of Trees and City Forest Park

Andy Burnham could have taken this as an opportunity to recognise Labours’ faults on the environment in Greater Manchester but did not take this opportunity

3. JANE BROPHY – LIBERAL DEMOCRATS (Rating 4/10)

Environmental Priorities

1. Climate change
2. Air pollution
3. Protect the greenbelt / greenspace
4. Decarbonise the economy
5. A frack free Greater Manchester

A slip that confused the whole room at the start of the hustings, Jane said “We need to act before climate change becomes a problem”

From answers later in the event it is clear that Jane Brophy does have some ecological knowledge and seems to be genuinely passionate about the environment, but this statement certainly caused some head scratching!

Jane Brophys’ central theme is that we need to Remain in the EU for greater environmental protections to make Manchester the Greenest City In Europe and that we need to encourage business to become more environmentally responsible

It is disingenuous for Jane Brophy to say that she represents Frack Free Greater Manchester – the Liberal Democrats seemed to have no presence whatsoever at events such as the Barton Moss Solidarity Sundays and the fracking industry moved into Greater Manchester under the ConDem government ! Perhaps the organisers of Frack Free Greater Manchester can confirm whether the Liberal Democrats have ever been to a Frack Free Greater Manchester meeting ?

4. SEAN ANSTEE – CONSERVATIVES (Rating 0/10)

Environmental Priorities

1. Plan For Growth !!
2. How do we take the devolution powers
3. Behavioural changes
4. Green Bus Fund
5. Electric Cars

To see Mr Anstees’ “Plan For Growth” you only need to look at the borough of Trafford, where Mr Anstee is the “leader” of Trafford Council – Trafford is the ugly face of capitalism/“dirty old man” of Greater Manchester

Trafford is what happens when you give the Conservatives too much power, and Labour kowtow to big business in Greater Manchester

Trafford was once the leafy green preserve of Manchesters’ rich and famous, but heavy industry has, over the years, crept south-west along the Manchester Ship Canal from Salford Docks to Trafford where a predominantly Tory Council, often aided and abetted with Labour support, has given the green light to huge industry projects on places such as Carrington Moss and Davyhulme, the situation has got so messy that residents now have to monitor the air quality themselves, all under the “Northern Powerhouse” moronic mantra of “jobs and growth”

On Mr Anstees’ watch, the BREP BioMass Incinerator is heading to Trafford, IGas were given permission to do Coal Bed Methane mining just yards from the Trafford Centre, INEOS have licences to frack huge swathes of Trafford courtesy of the Conservative government and, Carrington Moss, a site that is full of rare wildlife, is being turned into an industrial “powerhouse” – all activists and concerned residents should take a look at the huge monstrosity that is Carrington Gas Terminal on the south side of the Manchester Ship Canal, a new generation of fossil fuel development is not compatible with the Conservatives claim to be the “Greenest Government Ever!”

For more information research the Breathe Clean Air Group, a group of volunteer residents, who have worked very hard to try to stop BREP and bring the subject of air quality to the attention of the general public and politicians, now a real election issue

Also on Mr Anstees’ watch, the urban wildlife oasis of Pomona is being trashed and the habitat of Little Ringed Plovers, Skylarks, Lapwings, Bee Orchids and Sand Martins is disappearing underneath concrete before our very eyes, just yards from Manchester city centre, despite huge public opposition

The Conservative Party and the Labour Party are “all in it together” for the “Northern Powerhouse” so how can Anstee or Burnham possibly have the freedom from party politics to create a Green Greater Manchester ? How can their colleague “Sir” Richard Leese be the leader of Manchester Council and sit on the board of Peel Holdings ? This type of vested interests and cronyism is why people are so sceptical of the awfully named “DevoManc”

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