A fairer, greener future?
An article on Labour’s new policy position on Green Energy
by Tony Vaughan, FHCLP Executive Political Education Officer and Labour Campaigner
This week at the Labour Conference in Liverpool, I got a glimpse of what a truly environmentally progressive local authority is doing. The Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is Labour’s Steve Rotherham, elected in 2017. The Combined Authority has recently purchased a huge fleet of green-hydrogen powered buses and refuse trucks. The buses are designed and built in the UK, creating sustainable British jobs. The manufacturer makes its own hydrogen, given the current lack of hydrogen plants in the UK. Liverpool also has several offshore and onshore wind farms. And under the ‘Mersey Tidal Project’, Liverpool is using ‘tidal range’ technology to turn the rise and fall of the sea into green electricity: more green jobs in designing and running this industry. Another example is that Liverpool extracts heat from its underground train system and pipes that heat into people’s houses, heating water which warms domestic radiators.
Sadly, the approach to the environment of the Tory-led Government, County and District Council, and our MP Damian Collins MP, is – to put it at its most charitable – lacking in ambition. Liz Truss has made no secret of backing new oil and gas exploration, maintaining diesel, opposing curbs on sewage discharges, and opposing solar energy. The Tories are the polar opposite of Labour on the environment.
This week, Keir Starmer announced green policies which will mean that every community in the UK can have an energy policy like Liverpool’s. Just close your eyes and dare to imagine for a moment what a Labour-run Government, County and District Council, and a Labour MP for Folkestone & Hythe, could mean for our community.
I’ll take one example: green hydrogen. Have you ever thought about what will power HGV’s in 50 years? We are the gateway to Europe and HGV lorries run past and through our towns and villages, creating air pollution. Something else I learned this week was that electric HGVs have a much shorter range than hydrogen powered HGVs do; and take time to charge up. That is why most truck manufacturers, including Volvo, Hyundai and Daimler, are putting their money on hydrogen HGVs as the future. When hydrogen powered trucks emerge from the Channel Tunnel, and at Dover Docks, where will they fill up? One obvious answer might be a green hydrogen plant here in Folkestone & Hythe, powered by solar and wind, staffed by local workers. What is the County Council’s strategy to phase out diesel trucks and replace them with hydrogen powered trucks? And could we use heat from Eurotunnel to power people’s homes here? What about food and agricultural waste as a source for generating energy, which other Labour authorities are already doing?
Turning this thinking into practical green solutions will require massive state investment in the infrastructure and industries which will convert us from carbon to green power by 2030. That is Labour’s commitment. At the heart of Labour’s Green strategy is to create a Great British Energy Company to invest the billions we need to make this a reality and to create jobs for the future. We – the British people – will own that company, not the foreign companies who currently profit from our energy use. We will all profit from the wealth that is generated; and our bills will be lower. We can and will be the world leader in making, and delivering, green technologies.
This is Labour’s vision. Every person who wants us to ditch carbon as quickly as possible must support us. Every person who would rather have a wind or solar farm than air pollution, should join Labour. Here in Folkestone and Hythe, voting for any other party will – in reality – be a vote for carbon, for oil and gas exploration, for corporate interests to profit from our green industries, rather than all of us.
I am excited by what I have learned and heard at Labour Conference this week. Come and join us, and together, we will fight for our fairer, greener future.