A question came up in the Leaders Debate on Sky News (in HD apparently) last night that got me thinking, why are politicians in the UK unable to come to terms with the big green issue: it’s multi-faceted yes, it’s sometimes controversial, absolutely, but at it’s core is a truth that surely all of us can agree on. Living in greener homes and driving greener cars would make us all richer. Green technology is a jobs growth sector, and with dwindling access to carbon fuels we need to do something soon to secure our energy security?
But seemingly not one of them wants to grab the bull by the horns. It’s not about carbon trading or even the choice between wind power or nuclear, let’s get down to basics. Let’s pass laws that houses need to be better: for years the big builders have thrown up unsustainable poor quality housing without enough insulation, without good windows, efficient boilers or access to better recycling services. Let’s change that first.
Second let’s make recycling compulsory, nationwide: no flip flopping between different councils: Germany has the right idea – it’s not a choice, it’s the law, and because it’s the law the german people have found better ways of working their recycling, you don’t find German shops chucking carriers bags at you at a rate of knots (Ocado with 34 plastic bags for a weekly shop for 2 people please take note!), paper bags are used more, buy or bring your own bag schemes are everywhere, and they’re used too – not because it’s fashionable, but because it makes sense to cut down your personal recycling ‘liability’.
Third, we need Micro-generation, you can’t move on the continent for wind turbines and solar panels, in even the most picturesque places you’ll find them on buildings, do they spoil the view? I don’t think so.
This is the view from the Mohne Dam, (of Dambusters fame), a hydroelectric power station in Nord-Rhine Westphalia, this is the village of Günne in it’s very pretty shadow. Here we see a huge amount of solar PV, wind turbines and energy efficent homes with strong double and triple glazing as well as night shutters to keep heat in and out depending on the season.
What’s so awful about this view? In my view it’s a good trade off for a healthier, greener planet – and what is so bad about that? We need to make sure that NIMBY’s don’t have a leg to stand on, it’s the one area where devolved localism has destroyed people’s right to make personal choices – this needs strong leadership that definitively shuts the door on parish council’s planning ruling against green improvements to personal property… We’re not talking about legislation that means that cement works can be built in the middle of a grade 1 listed thatched villages, we’re talking about sensible legislation that will allow our buildings to come into the 21st century to meet 21st century environmental demands.
I didn’t hear this simple solution from any of the Leaders, and to me, this is such a simple set of steps that’d move the UK forward in green terms by light years.