Green Tories urge their party not to cede environmental leadership to the left

Green Tories have urged their party to build on Conservative environmental successes with a raft of proposals to boost nature and tackle climate change.

Proposals from the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) include allowing community groups to buy disused public or ownerless land at a discount so they can restore nature near to where people live.

The network also wants the party to maintain the budget for nature-friendly farming – a programme developed by the Conservatives – in real terms for the next parliament and confirm proposals to require new houses and commercial buildings to have solar panels.

The green Tory group’s director Sam Hall urged the Conservative Party not to cede environmental leadership to the left and said parties should be competing over how to improve the environment, rather than arguing over whether nature and climate action were problems.

Also in CEN’s proposals are calls for a boost to the grant scheme for farmers to install solar panels on barn roofs, and for stopping large EU fishing vessels from damaging the environment and wildlife in marine protected areas.

There should be moves to increase competition on the railways, modernise port infrastructure and provide funding to community groups to support them to improve nature near to their homes, CEN suggests.

Mr Hall said: “The environment has consistently been among the public’s top five issues during this Parliament.

“To respond to voters’ concerns, as well as tackle the serious environmental threats to our prosperity and security, parties would be electorally wise to set out bold and practical policies to tackle climate change and restore nature at this election.

“Parties should be competing over how to improve the environment, rather than whether climate change or nature loss are problems.”

He said the proposals sought to build on the environmental achievements of successive Conservative governments, such as the roll out of the new farming payments and the expansion of the “blue belt” of marine protected areas around UK Overseas Territories.

“The Conservatives should not cede environmental leadership to the left,” he urged.

“They should put forward a positive environmental agenda for the next parliament that will protect our communities, our country, and our planet for generations to come.”