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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:46 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Ms Sue Doughty Ms Sue Doughty Shadow Minister (the Environment), Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 2:46 pm, 8th February 2005

I am grateful to the Minister for his intervention, but other commentators do not share his confidence about flooding. Only recently, I was at a seminar with developers who expressed severe concern. At least the Thames gateway has infrastructure planned. What about other places, such as Milton Keynes, where not so much infrastructure will be provided, and places such as Guildford, which is subjected to infill? Displaced water will also be a consequence of such developments, and I would expect to see even more flooding as a result.

We support the proposal of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that the Environment Agency should be a statutory consultee on planning applications. The Conservatives, however, would cut the Environment Agency. When will they comment on those proposals and understand their environmental implications?

Dr. Turner mentioned methane. This is a subject close to the Minister's heart and mine, and I urge him to ramp up efforts to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going into landfill. Please can we make sure, with urgency, that councils have the tools that they need to assess levels of home composting and so on, and to make plans to encourage it? Such small steps will make a significant difference to methane emissions.

Leadership on climate change is needed. We had a peace dividend as the old Soviet empire crumbled—we now want a climate dividend. That opportunity is available, but only if we get our own house in order and exercise real leadership with allies such as the United States, as well as European allies. As polluters, we must recognise that not only do our people suffer as climate change takes hold but others do, too. It is strange, but on a mild day such as today, instead of people saying, "What a lovely day"—it is mild in Guildford, where the flowers are coming out in my garden—perhaps they should say a little more often, "Why is it so mild at the beginning of February?" We must recognise that the problem is here and now, and act on it here and now.