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Climate Change and the Environment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 3:39 pm, 8th February 2005

I am sorry, I do not have time. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman wants to intervene but I have only 10 minutes for my speech, and even so it will be impossible to summarise the whole debate.

What has been interesting about the debate is that a variety of speeches have stressed that the science is incontrovertible, that time presses urgently and that we need radical measures that we should co-operate to support. The problem is that the Conservative party has not been fully part of that. We have heard only one speech from the Conservative Benches during the entire debate. Conservative Back Benchers have made some constructive interventions, but they were less than supportive of their Front-Bench policy, and they are no longer in the Chamber. That is a challenge, because we shall be unable to address the radical climate change policies that are needed if the Conservative party is not fully on board working with us.

The Conservatives have suggested that they want to get rid of the climate change levy and would cut the Environment Agency's budget. They are going round the country campaigning energetically against wind energy while acting as a front for a nuclear power industry that has no economic case to make. Although I will accept some strictures from Mr. Thomas on the activity of certain people, we should be clear that not every wind farm is ideally located and that planning issues are legitimate.

As a party, the Liberal Democrats are clear that wind energy is crucial in the short term to meet the renewable energy targets that we have undertaken under Kyoto. As a Scottish Member, I can say that both our Ministers in the partnership Government in Edinburgh are up front in promoting and encouraging wind energy developments. Last week, I walked over a wind farm site in my constituency that will be generating electricity this summer. I have also supported a fairly controversial application that is going through the process. People who oppose wind energy in principle, or who in practice oppose every development, are actually setting themselves against addressing the climate change agenda. It is as simple as that. One cannot be in favour of dealing with that issue and oppose wind energy either in principle or in practice.