My last day of the 2012 party conference season coincided with an environment session at which four Conservative ministers spoke.
Greg Barker confidently articulated the government's plans to rise to the climate change challenge. You can read his speech here. He was followed by John Hayes the new Energy Minister who talked about his intention to review the approach to onshore renewables deployment. We'll need to whip out our template for positive planning for renewable energy. We have shared our approach (for delivering renewables at the right scale and in the right location) with a number of politicians including with Ed Miliband before the last election and his then shadow Greg Clark. Based on our experience of engaging with over 2000 wind farm planning applications and experience across Europe, we think that the following ingredients are essential:
Early engagement of stakeholders Clarity over nature conservation concerns Appropriate institutional resourcing and the retention of central pools of knowledge Being spatially explicit High quality environmental impact assessments Maximising local benefits from wind developments Ensuring effective ongoing management Political will to deliver new onshore capacity
You can read our full thoughts on this subject here.
But energy was not the sole focus of yesterday's debate. Richard Benyon spoke of his plans for fisheries reform. For some reason Richard did not get asked to give a speech and simply answered questions (impressively) from the floor. And his new boss, Owen Paterson, picked up where he left off at our fringe on Sunday night by outlining his ambitions for his new role as Defra's Secretary of State. You can read his speech here.
We are not going to agree with everything that the Secretary of State says (for example on badgers and on shale gas) but his ambitions for fisheries and agriculture reform are welcome.
Later this morning, the Prime Minister's speech (arguably more significant than all those that have gone before) will bring a curtain down on conference season 2012. My hopes for his speech? Simple really, that the green economy is seen as central to his approach to economic recovery and that, despite the tough economic conditions, his government is still prepared to invest in protecting and enhancing the natural environment.
And what about you? What do you hope to hear from the Prime Minister this morning?
It would be great to hear your views.
I think you have summed it up exactly Martin, protecting and enhancing to natural environment is so important and we cannot afford not to do that even in these tough times. Hopefully he will say this but I have great doubts.
I will be interested to see if the melting pole will be mentioned (by 2015); a quick run through Ed Miliband's speech and I did not notice the words climate change! I doubt if the PM will give it much significance despite the collapse of this year's harvest (due to a warmer Atlantic) and drought in the critically important grain belt of the USA. The one measuer of which I approve is the doubling of support for tidal and wave; this is significant and possibly the only measure that this government has got right in two years.
I have repeatedly called for a clear and costed alternative to the Severn Barrage (plus critique of Treasury position) re perhaps 4 lagoons and small barrage (either Shoots or Beachley) to be put by the environmental alliance before the people of Bristol. I have suggested that this be launched from The Matthew symbolising Bristol's long link to the sea and maritime tradition.......... any chance of a joined up alternative to Hain ? Or is this opportunity to be missed ?
I didn't hear the whole speech and relied on the media for the information. As I suspected would happen, not a mention of the environment or that they are still "the greenest government ever". What a surprise!