On the 19th of May we received a visit from Green Party deputy leader Will Duckworth who is the lead candidate for the Green Party in the West Midlands for Euro elections.
, Mr Duckworth main priorities on the EU are climate change and pollution, workers’ rights and human rights, and animal welfare. He is also committed to fighting fracking and wants EU countries to leave as many fossil fuels in the ground as possible, ultimately believing that climate change is best tackled at EU level. However, Mr Duckworth is clear that Europe should not stop UK from nationalising energy and that UK should maintain sovereignty over energy. Will also believes that there may be sufficient funding from the EU to bring down air pollution levels, and that it is just not being spent correctly at the moment.
In terms of more local issues, Mr Duckworth supports the 20mph limits with BFoE that where it has been done well, it has achieved good results. On the subject of HS2, his position is clear- HS2 should be scrapped and the money used for local infrastructure.
Interestingly, Mr Duckworth expressed some scepticism about the efficacy of low-emission-zone’s (LEZ) in the long term, saying that they are useful locally but cannot be a solution to air pollution and climate change nationally and globally. He cited an example in which high polluting vehicles that were oft used in London were sold to Essex following the implementation of a LEZ in London; ultimately creating lots of pollution in Essex- demonstrating that single LEZ’s can be counter-productive.
On the subject of neonicotinoids Mr Duckworth believes that the evidence demonstrating the danger to bees is sufficient for a ban; however, he agrees that further research is needed in order to convince sceptics of this. He also feels that large monoculture farms have produced problems, as well as the perception that GMO’s are neccessary.
Mr Duckworth felt we should aim to reduce, reuse and repair before we recycle; and that producing less waste is more important than recycling it, as it is not sustainable to recycle waste compared to reducing or reusing it. He also stated that long-term contracts mean councils have no reason and limited ability to get rid of incinerators, and noted that Hereford is building an incinerator based on a 25 year contract with a private company. Will suggested that government should research ways to tax the producers of the waste, and that money from taxing waste producers should go into general tax money.
Mr Duckworth spoke of the dangers of TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and his concerns of the ability of the EU to minimise damage caused by TTIP, which he believes will mean a situation where governments are have to pay out millions to private companies if they reverse decisions. He gave the example that HS2 could not be stopped by future governments under TTIP.
On the issue of Food security and seed-patenting, Mr Duckworth is firmly against GMO and GMO being allowed into the UK. He also expressed his concern about companies like Monsanto owning seeds and selling them to poorer countries, showing some agreement with the position that GMO technology is not the problem- it is how it is applied that is the problem- e.g. when it is used in sub- Saharan Africa, creating enormous food security problems.
Overall it was a positive meeting we look forward to being able to work with Will Duckworth in the future