Alex Sobel slammed the Government’s Autumn budget for their short sightedness and for ‘putting the planet on notice’ in an address to the House of Commons last night.
Mr Sobel focused on several issues that were left out of chancellor Phillip Hammond’s budget speech including the environment and infrastructure for the North of England. He also spoke of the air quality crisis and underfunding of the NHS.
“I expected this Budget to deliver the investment we need in clean, green infrastructure for our lungs and our planet. In a quest to bring down costs, the Chancellor has not looked to capitalise on the opportunities that a modern, green economy would bring to the UK.
Instead, he has focused on miserly cost-cutting measures. This is a Budget of abject complacency in the face of climate catastrophe. As usual, the Government’s obsession with low-cost public services and their lack of any serious investment have left our environment, the water we drink and the air we breathe off the agenda.”
Mr Sobel pointed to a recent study that linked air pollution to more than 40,000 early deaths. “that is 40,000 people dying before their time because the air they breathe in the fifth richest country in the world fails the required standard.” He described this as a ‘public health nightmare.’
This was just one of the environmental failures that Mr Sobel raised in his speech. He pointed out the lack of investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and asked the Government how they expected people to invest in a fossil fuel free alternative when the Government are not doing their bit to supply infrastructure. He said, “In my constituency there is not a single public charge point; this is fourth time I have raised this issue in the House, and there are still no charge points.”
Mr Sobel has recently campaigned against the plan to scrap Feed-in Tariffs. He said “This incredibly short-sighted plan will end a scheme that has been successful in encouraging communities, councils and individuals to take ownership of their energy and carbon footprint. While the Government cite increased energy bills to justify their position, they have no plan to replace the scheme with anything other than business as usual for the big six energy companies, which they have conveniently left out of their analysis of consumer energy bills.”
When discussing the lack of investment in the North., Mr Sobel said “Further, we need proper investment in northern heavy rail infrastructure to ensure that people have an alternative to using their cars. Clean rail is lacking in my constituency, where the Harrogate line is still running dirty diesel as the Government first promised then scrapped the electrification programme—a shameful example of this Government’s craven disregard for the north of England.”
Summing up his speech Mr Sobel said
“In short, this Budget has come up short, put the interests of the few ahead of those of the many and put the planet on notice from which it might never recover.”