Election night is over and it looks, as we speak, like the Conservatives will emerge from this election with a majority… But what does that mean for Green business? Anyone with an interest in sustainable issues who saw the Leaders’ debates a few weeks ago will have noticed a distinct lack of discourse about Green industry.
The lack of attention to Green Business in these debates is shocking. Around 1 million people are employed in Green industries, which are collectively worth £120bn per year. The UKs respected position in World Green affairs would suggest that these issues should be at the forefront of the major parties’ manifestos. However, the issues have received markedly less airtime than those facing the automotive and banking industries, which employ similar amounts of people. Job creation and employment are supposed to be high priorities in this election, so why has such an important sector been almost overlooked?
There have been some promises for Green industry from each party but they have been neither hopeful nor reassuring. Labour pledged to freeze energy bills until 2017, which although appealing, has been received icily by energy suppliers. The conservatives has pledged to end subsidies for UK Wind Farms, which has been met with some disquiet from wind farm developers. One such developer, Airvolution, has claimed that “If the Conservatives win the general election, job losses will be inevitable” what’s more this could lead to taxpayers losing out as we turn to more expensive alternatives, according to Ian Marnas of Infinis Energy.
This has lead to uncertainty amongst those working in Green Industries, such as 26 year old Heather Jones, who works as the community liaison officer for REG Windpower. Jobs like hers may be in jeopardy in the Conservatives go through with their promises on onshore wind power. “Its frustrating when some people will only believe the myths they’ve heard so often, instead of seeing the merits of onshore wind,” she says. “I’m worried about my job and the future of green jobs in the UK. I find it really concerning that a future government could put at risk an entire industry and thousands of jobs when polls consistently show that 70% of people in the UK are supportive of onshore wind.”
Commendable efforts from the Green Party saw them announce a plan in their manifesto to implement a Carbon Free society by 2050. However, their forecast would require cuts at twice the rate expected by EU legislation. This kind of rapid change is simply not sustainable. Surely there is a middle ground between Tory cuts and Green idealism that can ensure the best most stable future for UK Green Industry? We await the result of the election with apprehension.