I've often commented on how terrible our political class is at dealing with environmental issues. That's not a party political point but a general one. A recent poll put Labour and Conservatives at the same level of perceived competence on the environment, which is probably about right. They're both useless. The recent Environmental Audit Committee report agrees; Here's the scoreboard
this cross party committee awarded the current government. It said:
In our scorecard we have assessed biodiversity, air pollution and flooding as ‘red’ risks, and thus areas of particular concern. In none of the 10 environmental areas we have examined is satisfactory progress being made
This is Owen Paterson's legacy. Well done.
What's annoying is that the electorate don't seem to care. If the Tories got a kicking from voters on this sort of thing they would respond to it, I'm sure. Ed Miliband might even remember to mention it.
Oddly, perhaps the Reckless affair might put the environment centre stage. Mark Reckless, recently defected Conservative MP for Medway, has consistently opposed a massive development in his constituency which has also become a cause celebre in the conservation world. Lodge Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest on which a developer wants to build a small town of 5,000 houses. Amazingly the local council have approved the application:
This effectively means that nowhere is safe from housing development.
Call me naive, but there might just be a chance that Mark Reckless's opposition isn't just nimbyism, political opportunism or entirely predicated on the idea that we don't need as many homes as the government says because we don't need as many people.
The environment might be starting to become a more central feature of the political landscape. It would be peculiar if it was UKIP that put it there. Funny old world.
Footnote: As time goes on it seems like I was just naive. UKIP's environment policy, such as it, seems completely bonkers
and Mr Reckless just appears to be an opportunist