The biggest threat to our environment is the surge in Manchester’s economic growth which if not controlled correctly could have huge adverse effects on our all our lives. Economic growth will dictate our air quality, traffic flow, and demand for house-building and school places, amongst other things so it must be looked on with caution.
In my view, the biggest environmental pledge we can make is to define our optimum population levels and try to aim our environmental resources towards achieving these figures. Each defined area or habitat has its own optimum level, but the parameters of how we define this will always be up for debate. If I am elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, the number one priority on my environmental agenda will be defining our optimum population level.
My other policies will include:
1. Kicking out the idea of fracking in Greater Manchester. The only case for fracking is when all other forms of renewable energy have been considered, which doesn't seem to be the case just yet. The evidence from Pennsylvania in the USA indicates a huge risk to the water supply, where quality must surely be sacrosanct. Fracking isn’t like mining where jobs will be created in communities for decades to come. Instead, a company will turn up for a few years, make loads of money and then leave the local community to cope with any future problems. Bolton and Wigan appear to be most at risk in our area.
It is in our interests now to work towards being powered by 100% green energy by 2050
2. Creating a Green Economy zone in the western areas of Greater Manchester by working closely with our universities on the issues of waste, macrogeneration and microgeneration. Local renewable energy projects, like the one in Northenden which uses the River Mersey to create energy, is a good example of what I’d like to achieve by encouraging links with our university scientists. Our rivers were strong enough to power the first Industrial Revolution and I think they’re still strong enough to make Manchester the first European city that takes all its energy from renewable sources.
3. Encouraging our 18-22 year olds to travel and see the world. People who travel tend have their children later, so this will be a natural check on population levels as well as broadening our young people’s outlook and ideas. The Australians and New Zealanders have been doing this successfully for years.
4. Creating urban gardens with millions of trees and flowers to clean up the air we breathe and soften our environment, which has become hard over the years. In central Manchester for example, we keep developing buildings but there’s currently nowhere to go for a walk or take exercise. I’m keen to develop parks and urban gardens where natural habitats exist alongside our urban living and working areas and I would also like to encourage our local farmers to grow trees for energy consumption on a crop rotation basis. Forestry and agriculture is therefore a key part of my environmental poicy now that the Common Agricultural policy (CAP) is no longer relevent. We can no longer assume that farmers are the custodians of our green spaces
Tree-planting could also be used to offset business rates, as we need to get local business involved in cleaning up our environment. The green belt is not sacrosanct so long as what is built is done on an offset basis where something positive to enhance our area is developed elsewhere.
5. Encouraging people to buy products and services locally is the best way to make a difference to our local environment and promote business in our region. Less miles is less carbon which means cleaner air.
6. Making sure that all the houses built meet strict envoronmental standards of zero carbon and climate resiliance.
The development of a fast moving green economy is the best way we can differentiate our city as we endevour to move ourselves to world class status. Any company who wishes to move to our area and help us clean up our environment will be welcomed with development grants particularly in our run down areas.