Thinking of voting Green?

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This piece was first published in 2015. The argument still stands: If you want a government that will protect the environment, Vote Lib Dem.

Last night on the doorstep I met a couple of people who were thinking of voting Green. I would like to address their concerns, here, and make it clear: if you are worried about the environment and climate change – please vote Lib Dem. These are the reasons why: 

In government, Ed Davey and the Lib Dem team delivered a significant green agenda for the UK. This included:

  • Securing £37bn investment in renewable electricity
  • Establishing the world’s first Green Investment Bank
  • Leading Europe to agree a new more ambitious EU-wide climate change target
  • Planting more than 1 million trees

Our team also halted Conservative plans to scrap Natural England and give up on the England Coast Path (comment, here, from our own MP). I’m pleased to report that when Dan Rogerson took over in DEFRA he secured safe funding for the coastal project.

The Lib Dem manifesto takes the environmental agenda even further. At the heart of our plans are Five Green Laws which will stimulate more green growth, improve greener transport options, create more energy efficient homes, improve our air quality, reduce household waste and create a zero-carbon Britain within a generation.

Here in Newbury and West Berkshire, I need your support to put a halt to ten years of Conservative neglect of the environment in our area. 

If you want to create a more environmentally friendly, fairer society in Britain, voting Lib Dem, you are safe.

See also:

– Dan Rogerson DEFRA Minister visits West Berks: 

– Green in Government

– Five Green Laws

George Monbiot, “the minister destroying what he is paid to protect”

Reasons to vote Liberal Democrat


While in government the Lib Dem team has put through some of the most common sense, socially democratic policies this country has seen for a generation. 

If I am elected to Westminster, whether we are in Coalition with Labour or Tories or no one, I will work with our team to do more of the same. 

My Manifesto priorities are below. If you would like to browse the whole document, pls click here:

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A World Class Education:  Education is the top priority for Liberal Democrats.  In government, we will guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 and qualified teachers in every class.

The only way we will achieve greater equality in the country is to make sure everyone has the chance to make the most of what they were born with, whether you’re a high achiever or work with special educational needs.

Prosperity: We want to balance the budget fairly. To do this we will cut some, but no where near as much as the Tories, who are planning £12bn out of welfare (compared to our £3.5bn of cuts). We will raise the additional funds by extending Council Tax bands – let’s have the same rule for all.

Once we’ve caught up with the deficit, we look forward to investing to build a high-skill, low-carbon economy.

Quality health care: We have a clear plan to allow us to invest £8 billion in the NHS by 2020. We are already investing large sums and have a plan for £3.5bn for mental health treatments in the next year. We will continue our campaign to guarantee equal care for mental health.

Fair taxes: Raising the Personal Allowance from £6,800 to £10,600 has been a huge change that only happened because Lib Dems were in the coalition. Isn’t it great that all the other parties have taken the policy on board? A fundamental change to British society that’s benefitting 45,600 people in West Berkshire. 

In the next parliament we would continue the plan  £12,500, cutting your taxes by an additional £400.

Science: A Liberal Democrat government would introduce a package of measures supporting innovation in UK businesses. The manifesto also includes ringfencing of the science research budget and introducing a green innovation arm to the British Business Bank.

Environment protected: We will continue protecting nature and fight climate change with five green laws. In the past 5 years we fought day by day to protect the green agenda. We have doubled investment in renewable energy and almost tripled renewable energy generation. 15% of all UK power now comes from renewables.

Climate change is critical and we will continue this focus, with the target of having 60% UK energy coming from renewables by 2030.

Housing: Locally and nationally Lib Dems will work to bring empty properties into use, speed up housebuilding and introduce new Help to Rent and Rent to Own schemes for youngsters in work without the means to afford deposits for rental or home purchase.

We would pursue a plan of building Garden Cities in parts of the UK where they are welcomed. We would double council tax on second homes to discourage the buy to let market. This is a very tempting investment while bank interest rates are so low, but it’s helped accelerate the boost in house prices and in rents.

Green in Government

If you support the environment and green policies, please have a read of the post below. While in government Liberal Democrats doubled renewable energy generation in the UK and planted 1 million trees,  extended the coastal path and set up nationwide schemes to promote home insulation. 

Read on for more information about the amazing work done by Ed Davey on renewable energy:

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10th March 2015

Under Ed Davey’s determined stewardship in the department of energy, somewhat to the consternation of conservatives such as Michael Fallon and George Osborne, there has been massive investment in renewables:

  • Electricity generation from renewable sources has doubled since 2010 and now supplies 15% of the UK’s electricity.
  • The average annual investment in renewables has more than doubled since 2010.    
  • In 2013 alone, £8bn investment in renewables.
  • Solar PV 2011 – 2013: £6.4 billion. Rather wonderfully, the cost of installation has halved since 2010.
  • Biomass and Bioenergy 2010 – 2013: £6.3bn investment.
  • carbon capture and storage research supported to the tune of £1bn – not bad for research funding.  

New manifesto plans include legal targets for clean air and water, an end to dirty coal power stations and an ambitious decarbonisation target for the electricity sector.

We will introduce Five Green Laws to protect nature and fight climate change.

If you want to read more, take a look at: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/331071/DECC_Energy_Investment_Report.pdf

http://www.libdems.org.uk/electricity_generated_by_renewables_has_doubled_since_2010

Science toys for boys and girls this Christmas

Judith Bunting is calling on the retail sector to do the right thing – by marketing toys for all children, rather than for boys and girls separately.

Many girls still believe that some science subjects are not for them – almost half of all state-schools had no girls taking A-level physics in recent years. Campaigners have suggested that this is in part because the future aspirations of girls and boys are set at a very early age.

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Judith Bunting said:

“Parents know that boys and girls love all kinds of toys. With children developing very clear ideas at a young age about what jobs boys and girls can do, we can all help to send a clear signal that nothing is off limits. It is great that fewer retailers are defining toys as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’, which shows they are responding to their customers’ demands for more choice.

“But there is still more to do. I hope this Christmas companies will be conscious of how they are marketing their products and make sure they aren’t accidentally limiting customers’ and children’s choices.”

Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson, is the power behind the Your Life campaign – which is encourages young people, especially girls, to consider science, technology, engineering and maths careers – and pledge to take action to increase the numbers of women working in the sector.

Letter to the Guardian – Investment in Science

Letter published in the Guardian, Weds 3rd December

From Lib Dem Team Science 

Continued investment in science in the next parliament is vital

• We were disappointed to read of the science minister Greg Clark’s unwillingness to commit to a continued ringfencing of science spending in the Conservative party’s manifesto for 2015 (via interview in Research Fortnight, 12 November). Despite expressing a hope that his party’s support of science research would “continue and deepen”, the minister declined to give assurances on a continued ringfence of the science budget if the Conservatives were re-elected.

As a group of Liberal Democrat MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates seeking a stronger voice for science and engineering in the next parliament, we are proud that our party has already committed to continuing the ringfencing of the science budget, and providing greater public funding on a longer timescale. We have challenged the other parties to match our ambition for a 3% above inflation increase for the next 15 years – so far, none of them have backed us on this.

Investment in science and engineering stimulates economic growth: every pound invested in medical research generates an estimated ongoing return of 30p per year (Wellcome Trust, MRC and Academy of Medical Sciences); a report released last month showed the UK’s space sector growing at 7% per year, employing over 34,000 people and supporting an additional 72,000 jobs downstream.

In the months leading up to the election, we will continue to make the case for greater investment in the UK’s Stem research, and hope to build consensus among all parties for a secure and sustainable science budget.
Dr Julian Huppert MP Cambridge, Simon Wright MP Norwich South, Judith Bunting PPC, Newbury, Lucy Care PPC, Derby North, Layla Moran PPC, Oxford West and Abingdon, Dr Jenny Woods PPC, Reading East, Dr Ed Long Campaign organiser, Team Science

More information about Team Science can be found, here: http://aldes.org.uk/teamscience/?p=78

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Dan Rogerson, DEFRA Minister, visits West Berks

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Dan Rogerson being interviewed by Judith Bunting, Parliamentary Candidate, Newbury and West Berks Lib Dems.

DEFRA Minister, Dan Rogerson, came to Hamstead Marshall, recently, to meet West Berkshire residents at the Elm Farm Organic Research Centre.

Judith taxed the Minister on rural broadband, Thames Water, council housing and her campaign to get proper funding to maintain lively, vibrant rural communities.

“Urban areas receive £153.47 per person more than rural areas, each year, via the current local government finance settlement. This is unreasonable,” Judith Bunting said.  “That much money could add up to a lot of additional services for local residents.”

As MP for North Cornwall Dan has a lot of sympathy for the rural funding campaign.

Save our Footpaths

As Minister for rural affairs, Dan has been an enthusiastic supporter of ramblers, footpaths and walking, overseeing the investment of £5.3m to speed the opening of the full English coastal path.  The audience at the event included members of the local Ramblers Association and the Mid and West Berks Local Access Forum, who pressed Dan on the recent withdrawal of govt funding for the Environmental Stewardship Scheme.

This withdrawal sadly threatens the future of 11 popular routes in West Berkshire, including paths at Little Hidden Farm and the Eddington Estate, near Hungerford, and circular walks at Earl’s Court Farm, near Lambourn. Judith encouraged the groups to keep lobbying West Berks Councils to work with our local landowners to encourage them to keep the routes open.

“Walking is good for health and community, she said, “Not to mention the benefits walkers bring to the village economy, in the for of pubs and restaurants!”

Good news followed, as Nic Lampkin, Director of Elm Farm Organic Research Station, stood up and confirmed that the circular walk at Elm Farm, will remain open after the Environmental Stewardship scheme comes to an end. (See: https://judithbunting.co.uk/2014/11/17/good-news-for-ramblers/.)

 

Discussion during the evening also covered actions against flooding this winter, including cracked sewers along the Lamborn and Pang Valleys, in Newbury Centre, Woolhampton and East Ilsley, and how we can make Thames Water act to remedy the problem. Dan has promised to help me get access to the highest levels of the Environment Agency, to fund out what they are doing to ensure Thames Water live up to their commitments.

We also covered the problems suffered in West Berkshire villages with rural broadband; and the need to renew the council house building scheme in West Berkshire and across the country – an idea which received warm applause around the room.

The Royal Society’s vision for Education

Judith Bunting meets A level physics students at Trinity School
Judith Bunting meets A level physics students at Trinity School

 

Ambition

The Royal Society recently published their vision for Science and Maths Education in the UK. The report – focusses on the need to raise the general level of mathematical and scientific knowledge among school leavers. “A focus on ‘teaching to the test'”, the report says, “Results in a narrow curriculum that impoverishes young people’s breadth and balance of learning.”

The report also highlights the need for stability in both the curriculum and assessment, to allow teachers the space required to innovate in their teaching.

Judith Bunting commented, “This report is a very sensitve and welcome focus on the needs of science and technical education. After a recent visit to meet some of Trinity School’s A level Science students, I was hugely impressed at the range of projects they had underway and the scope they had to get to grips with cutting edge science. The enthusiasm of students like these gives me great hope for the future.”

The Royal Society’s ambition for the next 20 years of science and mathematics education is that it should enable people to make informed choices, empower them to shape scientific and technological developments, and equip them to work in an advanced economy.

Funding

To assist schools and teachers who wish to pursue ambitious science, maths and engineering subjects, The Royal Society offers a scheme of Partnership Grants.

Partnership Grants provide funding of up to £3,000 for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) projects run at a primary or secondary school or college in partnership with a professional scientist or engineer. Since 2000, the scheme has awarded over £1.3 million to 770 schools and colleges, and has ignited enthusiasm for science among young people across the UK. Find out all the information you need to apply to the scheme.

Ringfencing the science research budget

A Liberal Democrat government would introduce a package of measures supporting innovation in UK businesses, it has been announced today.

The manifesto plans include ringfencing the science research budget and introducing a green innovation arm to the British Business Bank.

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The plans also provide further support for the ‘Catapult’ programme, which bridges the gap between universities, research institutions and business through £100m of funding over the next Parliament.

The green innovation arm of the British Business Bank would deliver an expansion of innovation funding in the UK green technology sector.

In July, Vince Cable launched the driverless cars developments, which had benefited from this programme.

The announcement comes after Vince demanded that the £4.6bn science research budget was ringfenced. This funding is mainly allocated through universities and science research councils. Ringfencing helps support Britain’s innovation research.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Judith Bunting said:

“Supporting innovative businesses is crucial to building a stronger economy in Britain. There are hundreds of businesses and individuals across the country with a good idea, pioneering groundbreaking research or working tirelessly to bring their product to market.

“In Government people like Vince Cable have fought to protect funding for these innovations, and we will continue to do so in the next Parliament. We will not allow others scrap this vital funding because of a short term outlook, rather than invest in the people who are building the businesses of tomorrow.

“Liberal Democrats recognise that providing the support that these businesses need is central to our work to build a stronger economy and a fairer society where there is opportunity for everyone to get on in life.”

TeenTech makes science inspirational

Judith Bunting and Maggie Philbin meet young people at TeenTech event, July 2013 (Louise Bellaers)

Local celebrity and presenter of Tomorrow’s World and BBC One’s Bang Goes the Theory, Maggie Philbin, was in Berkshire last week promoting an event that travels the UK inspiring young people about careers in science, engineering and technology.

Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson for Newbury and West Berkshire, went along to find out how it works.

TeenTech has been running in the Thames Valley for four years. The event is organised by local Education Business Partnerships working in collaboration with Maggie’s TeenTech team. Over that time they have been able to reach over 1,500 young students and teachers, and make them aware of the diverse and exciting career possibilities in science, engineering and technology.

Commenting, Judith Bunting (pictured above, second right) said: “I am passionate about both education and science, so I find this project exciting on a personal level. Traditionally, science, engineering and technology have been seen as a bit geeky, so I think it’s great that this programme is helping to dispel those myths.”

Judith went on to say: “Liberal Democrats recognise the importance of meeting future employers’ needs by ensuring the next generation is suitably skilled. The M4 corridor is often dubbed England’s “Silicon Valley,” so we really must invest now to reap positive returns in the future.”

Judith Bunting tries out AWE's super-sensitive infrared camera
Judith Bunting tried out AWE’s super-sensitive infrared camera

 

Commenting further, Judith said: “Maggie’s Teen Tech is a shining example of how visionary leadership can inspire young people about making affirmative career choices. I’m confident that it will also help safeguard the future of the local economy, as it will ensure that West Berkshire has a smart, savvy and tech-aware workforce in the 21st century.”

Keep up-to-date with Judith’s views and activities around West Berkshire: 

http://www.facebook.com/JudithBuntingforNewbury

http://westberkslibdems.org.uk/