How green are the top parties?

PUBLISHED: 17:07 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:57 12 August 2010

THE environment has made it to the top end of the political agenda and is set to stay there, so the Times take a closer look at the green policies designed to get your vote.

THE environment has made it to the top end of the political agenda and is set to stay there, so the Times take a closer look at the green policies designed to get your vote.

The General Election on May 6 could be the day where the environment is the motivating factor in getting people to the polling station.

But do the pledges of the parties really look that different? Have they just copied each other and whose actually sparkle with inventiveness?

This election will see the first Labour manifesto to have an entire chapter devoted to climate change. However the party cannot fly high on success at the Copenhagen talks, which broke down despite the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Milliband's efforts.

The Tory party also need to claw back some environmental kudos if they want to see their lead in the opinion polls go back to what it was.

David Cameron took over as leader of the Conservative Party with a golden glow after waxing lyrical about the importance of environment to the new "not nasty" party.

Every detail was in check, including having in sight his ecological Ecover washing-up liquid during podcasts from his family home.

Unfortunately for him, critics feel his green credentials have slipped.

Orpington Conservative parliamentary candidate Jo Johnson said he did not want to get into a "comparative exercise" but did state the importance of the environment to a borough such as Bromley.

He said: "One of the ways the Conservatives differ are their plans to make the water management system more efficient.

"Half of this constituency is green belt and people don't want it to be built on.

"The council is doing a good job. They resist the threats to build on it. People want to see the council have the power to enforce building regulations on the illegal encroachment on the green belt."

Out of the three main parties, it is the green policies of the Liberal Democrats which appear to be the most original.

These include the decentralisation of the National Grid, ensuring Britain doesn't contribute at all to climate change, create an "eco-cashback" scheme where you get cash from the Government for installing micro-generation technology like solar panels or a wind turbine at home. And the proposal to create a "feed-in-tariff" where residents can sell the energy back to the National Grid at a profit.

But they, like the Greens, stand apart from the Tories and Labour, by saying no new nuclear power stations. They hope to counter the lack of nuclear by investing in renewables which they hope will break the reliance on fossil fuels.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Orpington and leader of the opposition on Bromley council David McBride said: "We are getting a more integrated set of policies with the environment at their core. For example, our economic policies do so their emphasis on investing in the green economy.

"Before it was fashionable, the environment was key to the Liberal Democrats, since the late 1980s and early 1990s. Paddy Ashdown was the first leader to highlight the importance of green policies.

"The Tories' policies are quite vague and Labour haven't delivered in 13 years."

The Green Party is putting up its largest ever with 300 candidates in 70 per cent of constituencies. Leader Caroline Lucas is battling to make Brighton Pavilion the party's first Westminster seat, with gains also possible in Norwich South and closer to home - strong support in Lewisham and Deptford.

Green Parliamentary candidate for Bromley and Chislehurst Rosin Robertson said: "The Green Party has always been seen as an environmental party but we have a full set of policies.

"With the credit crunch and MPs' expenses, there are a lot of things for people to think about, so I am pleased that the environment is so high on the agenda.

"If you look at the policies of the other main parties, they are ones that the Green Party has proposed.

"The more people vote Green, the more they show they show the Government that people want forward looking policies.

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