The Green Party has called for zero waste to landfill and less reliance on biomass at the launch of its European elections campaign.
The party officially launched its manifesto for the upcoming elections, to be held on May 22, as well as introducing three of its hopeful candidates at the Church House Conference Centre in London recently.
Eastern region hopeful and lead candidate Rupert Read, Yorkshire contender Andrew Cooper and South West runner Molly Scott Cato joined existing MEPs Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert as well as party leader Natalie Bennett in promising a positive change at the polls.
While Ms Bennett emphasised a vote for the Green Party was a vote against ‘fracking and secret trade deals’ favoured by the current administration, the manifesto also promoted better use of natural resources at an EU level.
The manifesto highlights that if elected, the Green MEPs will work to set out to eliminate hazardous waste production by 2020, ban waste dumping from manufacturing and primary industry processes, support a zero waste strategy and adoption of circular waste management systems, and reverse plans to become a bio-economy– which would ‘dramatically increase the EU’s use of land and biomass’.
Asked whether the Green Party would support higher recycling targets at an EU-wide level, South East MEP Keith Taylor said: “The value of a zero waste initiative is it gives people a target to work towards. We have to do what we can and clearly we need to follow the hierarchy in what we do with waste, recycling and reuse at the top of that.
“There are also great opportunities in the secondary markets for products that would otherwise come into the waste stream. We should promote a closed loop system, for instance there are companies that generate a lot of paper which they do not need anymore.”
On the question of biomass, he added: “We are not in favour of having timber transported halfway round the world. But on a UK level, businesses using wood pellets produced locally in wood burners for their heating systems has to be a good use, providing local jobs and local resources.”
Taylor went on to suggest there had been a “slow realisation” by the general public that the environment was not safe in the hands of government, citing plans to cut 1,700 jobs for the Environment Agency between now and October 2014 as an example of this.
Meanwhile, lead candidate Rupert Read explained he would look to promoting solutions further up the waste hierarchy if elected. He believed the Green Party had been “instrumental” in helping to block the proposed Willows energy-from-waste plant in King’s Lynn which was scrapped along with the £500 million contract with consortium Cory Wheelabrator earlier this month.
“We are looking beyond recycling, we are looking at repair and reuse,” said Read.
“We have just defeated the incinerator plans for West Norfolk, it would have gone through much earlier if it wasn’t for the public pressure. We have made a difference for them at every step of the way.”
The UK will elect 73 MEPs to the European Parliament later next month, across 12 electoral regions containing between three and 10 representatives.
Jean Lambert, who was re-elected Green Party MEP for London in 2009, said: “The next European Parliament will involve really important decision-making and it’s really important which parties are making those decisions. Greens are very serious about our politics and we are serious contenders in this election.”