George Osborne’s speech at conference omits climate, and says Tories will “decide where to put a runway”
Chancellor George Osborne has today again underlined his commitment to delivering a shale gas revolution in the UK, in a conference speech that ignored climate change threats. Osborne told the Conservative Party conference that the country needed to fast-track infrastructure decisions if it was to deliver on his vision of becoming the most prosperous and creative nation in the industrialised world. Some verbatim quotes: “We will build the high speed rail, decide where to put a runway and support the next generation with starter homes in a permanent Help to Buy.” And ” Let’s face it, even today this country has spent forty years failing to take a decision about building a new runway in the South East of England.” While making the case for investment in new high and low carbon infrastructure the speech contained no mention of climate change, despite David Cameron last week telling the UN that he regards it as “one of the most serious threats facing our world”. New Environment Secretary Liz Truss could only manage, on climate, to say this:” we’re now leading international efforts to tackle climate change.”
Osborne promises new wave of high and low carbon infrastructure
Chancellor argues fracking, runways and new roads must be delivered alongside nuclear and renewables
By James Murray (Business Green)
29 Sept 2014
Chancellor George Osborne has today again underlined his commitment to delivering a shale gas revolution in the UK, in a conference speech that ignored climate change threats highlighted by his colleagues and promised urgent action to deliver new roads and runways.
Osborne told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the country needed to fast-track infrastructure decisions if it was to deliver on his vision of becoming the most prosperous and creative nation in the industrialised world. He acknowledged that building new infrastructure was always controversial, but argued that the engineers and industrialists that invented the steam engine would not have waited 40 years to make a decision on a new runway in the south east or “leave these extraordinary shale gas reserves under our feet untouched”.
Referring to the statue of Matthew Boulton, William Murdoch and James Watt in Birmingham’s Broad Street, Osborne said these “golden boys” would have prioritised the development of new infrastructure.
“We should ask ourselves what the Golden Boys in that statue outside would have done,” he said. “Would they have said, our trains may be packed, our roads congested, our transport system can’t cope, but we won’t build any more roads or new railways? No they would not. Would they have said, yes we mined for coal deep underground, and explored for oil beneath our seas, but we should leave the extraordinary shale gas reserves untouched beneath our feet? No they would not.”
He also claimed they would not have delayed decisions to build new nuclear power plants, nor ignored the opportunities presented by GM foods.
“We must choose the future,” Osborne said. “We will tap the shale gas, commission nuclear power and renewables, and guarantee our energy for the future. We will build the high-speed rail, decide where to put a runway and support the next generation with starter homes in a permanent Help to Buy. We must learn from the past, not be the past.”
However, while making the case for investment in new high and low carbon infrastructure the speech made no mention of climate change, despite Prime Minister David Cameron last week telling the UN that he regards it as “one of the most serious threats facing our world”.
The speech also made no specific reference to clean technologies or the green economy and only one mention of renewables, despite it repeatedly hailing the promise of disruptive technologies.
Separately, Osborne committed to ensuring the UK has the lowest business taxes of any large industrialised economy and he stressed that spending cuts across Whitehall would continue, predicting that £25bn of further cuts were needed to eradicate the deficit and arguing that tax increases were not an option if the UK is to remain competitive.
Osborne offered no new energy or environmental policy commitments, but his outspoken support for fracking and airport expansion is bound to infuriate green groups who responded angrily to the speech on Twitter.
“Barely days after David Cameron touched down from the UN Climate talks, his Chancellor is promising more roads, more airports and more fracking – with no mention of the solutions needed to slash emissions,” said Friends of the Earth campaigner Donna Hume. “By pledging support for polluters, the Chancellor is not just making a mockery of the government’s environmental commitments, he’s throwing away the chance to create thousands of jobs in new green industries.”
The address came after Conservative Environment Secretary Liz Truss argued the government was delivering bold action to improve the environment and leading international efforts to tackle climate change.
“Families can enjoy clean rivers and beaches and have peace of mind in their own homes while children get to know the sound of birdsong in our woods and meadows,” she said. “This is not about targets or turbines. It’s about real improvements practical conservative environmentalism where a strong, healthy environment is a core part of a strong, healthy economy.”
She also praised the use of cutting-edge technology in a booming UK food industry and stressed that action was being taken to tackle rising flood risks.
“Our defences against flooding are being upgraded to make them more robust,” she said. “We are spending £3.2bn – half a billion more than the last government – better protecting 165,000 houses and 580,000 acres of farmland… I am determined that our flood defences will always be strong enough to protect us against the ravages of a changing climate.”
However, Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole argued that the coalition’s flood defence spending was still well below the level recommended by the government’s own climate change advisers.
“It’s encouraging that Liz Truss is ‘determined our flood defences will always be strong enough to protect us from a changing climate’ – but this requires investment, not just wishful thinking,” he said. “Climate change and cuts to flood defences under the Coalition mean there’s actually a half-billion pound hole in our flood defence budget. The Chancellor needs to state clearly that he will invest to protect millions of British homes from the ravages of climate change.”
Meanwhile, Shadow Environment secretary Maria Eagle accused Truss of ignoring a host of rural and environmental issues that demand urgent action. “Liz Truss made no mention of food banks, water bills, air pollution, the badger culls, horsemeat, forests or green jobs,” she said. “She told the country that British food ‘never had it so good’ while over a million people rely on food banks each year. This was a speech by an out of touch Environment Secretary with nothing to say about the real issues facing the British people.”
Some quotes from the speech, at http://press.conservatives.com/
“And it’s not just roads. We’ve doubled spending on cycling. We’ve got the Airports Commission to deal with capacity in the south east. We’ve ordered thousands of new train carriages so commuters can get a seat. Rebuilt stations like Manchester Victoria, Reading, Nottingham and Wakefield. We’ve started electrifying rail lines so they are faster, cheaper to run and environmentally-friendly.”
!Backing the billions that business is investing in things like the new London Gateway port and our key airports like Heathrow, Gatwick and here in Birmingham.”
The future for Britain is to be a low tax country where people play by the rules.
The future for Britain is to be a pro-business country.
And we also have to build for that future.
Big decisions on infrastructure have always been controversial and always will be.
The railways were bitterly opposed in the nineteenth century.
The motorways were opposed in the twentieth century.
Let’s face it, even today this country has spent forty years failing to take a decision about building a new runway in the South East of England.
There are always one hundred reasons to stick with the past, but we need to choose the future.
We will build the high speed rail, decide where to put a runway and support the next generation with starter homes in a permanent Help to Buy.
Liz Truss’ (Environment Secretary) speech is recorded as saying:
The Conservative Party: Conference.I have to confess that I was both delighted and surprised…….. when the Prime Minister offered me this role.I was delighted…because I love the countryside.I represent one of the most productive agricultural areas of the country in the finecounty of Norfolk….…..and I am infatuated with British food.But I was also surprised to be appointed because I have so much in common with….. Ed Miliband.We both grew up in left-wing households.We both have parents who are academics.His father talked about Marx and Trotsky over the dinner table.My mother took me on protests.I went on marches.I made banners.I went to peace camps.For me, it wasn’t ballet or My Little Pony.Instead, it was saving the planet…..and the CND.The most useful thing I learned…..was how to make myself heard in a crowd.Which I still make plenty of use of today.But while Ed stayed with the predictable Left Wing Establishment.I, Conference, became a rebel.I became a CONSERVATIVE.And I rebelled for 3 reasons.Because I believe that you can shape your own destiny. Because I believe people should succeed on merit.And as a practical Yorkshire girl….I believe in not just talking……. But in getting things done….And, when it comes to the Environment, the Labour Party have always been good attalking.While we’ve been really good at doing.It was a Conservative who pointed out that CFCs were damaging the ozone layer.It was a Conservative who championed international efforts to ban them.It was a Conservative who signed the Treaty phasing out their use.And the name of that Conservative was Margaret Thatcher. The ozone layer is getting better and we’re now leading international efforts totackle climate change. We have cleaned up almost 10,000 miles of river and improved our beaches.Numbers of important birds like the linnet and the goldfinch are on the rise.We are planting a million trees and over 20,000 acres of woodland.Our defences against flooding are being upgraded to make them more robust.We are spending £3.2 billion – half a billion more than the last government – better protecting 165,000 houses and 580,000 acres of farmland.We are constantly vigilant.All this means that families can enjoy clean rivers and beaches……..and have peace of mind in their own homes….….. while children get to know the sound of birdsong in our woods and meadows.This is not about targets or turbines.It’s about real improvements….. …….practical conservative environmentalism…….. where a strong, healthy environment….…..is a core part of a strong, healthy economy. And our Long Term Economic Plan. And that is exactly what our farmers and food producers need.Just like our country…….there once was a time that our food was in decline.We had an inferiority complex about our traditional dishes.We’d lost pride in our country……..and we’d lost pride in our food.The amount of British Food we consumed and produced went down.The last Labour government…….tied our farmers up in red tape….…… wasted £600 million on EU fines ….……..and left us with the worst bovine TB problem in Europe.The fact is: Labour don’t care about the countryside.They think that we can’t grow enough of our own food.They think that we can just outsource it.Well they are wrong.Decline is not inevitable.Under this government, food and farming is one of our biggest success stories.It’s our largest manufacturing sector….…….bigger than aerospace and car production put together.Modern farming is not about shire horses and steam.It’s about systems and satellites.At every stage of the supply chain there is cutting edge technology….….whether it’s GPS in tractors…..automated celery rigs…… or Sainsbury’s employing an army of coders.That’s probably why it’s one of the fastest growing areas for entrepreneurs.We’re helping producers compete by slashing red tape and opening up publicprocurement….as well as nearly 600 new overseas markets – thanks to the hard work of mypredecessors Owen Paterson and Caroline Spelman.Our exports have increased by more than £1 billion in the past four years.And the results are superb.We are growing wheat more competitively than the Canadian prairies.We’re producing more varieties of cheese than the French.And we are even selling tea to China.Yorkshire Tea.When it comes to British food and drink….……we have never had it so good,As well as exporting our fantastic food abroad, I want to see more British food soldin Britain.Two-thirds of the apples and nine-tenths of the pears that we eat are imported.Not to mention two thirds of the cheese.And that is a disgrace.From the apple that dropped on Isaac Newton’s head to the orchards of nurseryrhymes……..this fruit has always been a part of Britain.I want our children to grow up enjoying the taste of British apples as well as… Cornish sardines, Norfolk turkey, Melton Mowbray pork pies, Wensleydalecheese, Herefordshire pears……. and….of course… black pudding.Under a Conservative majority government, I want Britain to lead the world in food,farming and the environment.In a fortnight I will be in Paris at the world’s largest food fair…….bigging up British products.In December, I’ll be in Beijing negotiating new markets for pork.I am determined that our farmers and producers will have access to more marketsboth at home and abroad……..generating jobs and security for millions.I am determined to press ahead restoring habitats,….cleaning rivers….and improving the quality of our atmosphere…..….so that future generations can breathe clean air and enjoy the countryside.I am determined that our flood defences will be always be strong enough to protectus against the ravages of a changing climate. And I will not rest until the British apple is at the very top of the tree.
Cameron Speech in New York