David Cameron’s “greenest government ever” has been issued with a “red card” because of serious failures in reducing air pollution, protecting biodiversity and preventing flooding.
The report issued by Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) assigned three of the ten environmental areas covered in the report a “red card” whilst failing to assign the top ‘green scorecard’ in any area.
Responding to the report, Barry Gardiner, the Labour Shadow Environment Minister, branded the present government’s term in office a “disaster” for the environment. He added: “Our air is more polluted, more homes are at significant risk of flooding and more species are on the brink because of David Cameron’s failure.”
Joan Walley, the EAC committee chairman, has called for parties to consider ‘credible environmental protection in their manifestos” following David Cameron’s failed promises to lead ‘the greenest government ever’ in 2010.
The report found airborne pollutants had increased in 2013 and that the UK failed to meet targets for nitrogen dioxide emissions. Walley said: “A whole generation of young people in our cities will potentially have their health impaired by pollution before the government meets air quality safety standards. That is not acceptable.”
The second ‘red card’ was issued for failing to protect biodiversity with the report finding a significant decline in three out of four of the bird population, whilst invasive species were becoming more prevalent.
The report cited the 2013 Wildlife and Countryside link assessment deeming the governments flood alleviation method as “consistently poor”, with 2.4 million properties at risk of flooding.
Whilst climate change and general emissions received an ‘amber’ rating, the assessment stated that “the UK‘s carbon footprint has increased over the past two decades to be one of the largest in the world.”
Ms Walley intends for the report to serve as a “wake up call’ for the government, with the cross-party committee requesting the set up of an independent “Office for Environmental Responsibility” to act as a watchdog for the government’s commitment to the green agenda.
The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) however, defended their position. A government spokesperson said: “We completely disagree with the committee’s assessment – we are deeply committed to improving our natural environment.”