A Breath of Fresh Air
The Yorkshire Party stands for a better, more sustainable environment to make Yorkshire a happier and healthier place in which to live. The future of Yorkshire is for our children. The Yorkshire Party will place a high value on the environmental credentials of every policy, every action and every product. Successive governments have failed properly to account for the needs of Yorkshire’s important countryside communities. The Yorkshire Party will be a strong voice for our farmers and for all those who depend on a strong, sustainable and productive rural economy. Our priority is to plan for the way that we live and the products that we use – planning to reduce the impact of everyday life on the environment. The homes that we build need to be much more energy efficient and the products that we make need to safeguard precious resources. We should reduce our use of water and also reduce CO2 and other emissions. We will encourage innovative industries and repair shops to recycle materials. This may include mining landfill sites to recover materials from landfill that can be reused/ recycled. This would include, for example, the recycling of plastic milk cartons and other plastic packaging and deposit return schemes for glass jars and bottles. To ensure the widest possible scrutiny, the Yorkshire Party will require all environmental issues to be subject to Open Data and ethical reporting.
Single-use plastics are a blight on the environment and, better than recycling them, the Yorkshire Party believes that their use should be discouraged where practicable. We will, therefore, adopt a proactive approach to encourage manufacturers and retailers to consider the full life-cycle of the materials they use, including production and disposal or reuse.
Present recycling schemes across the region are confusing and contradictory with different colour bins indicating varying capabilities in each local authority area. The Yorkshire Party will introduce standardisation in waste collection, recycling and product labelling so that best-practice is adopted throughout the region. Clear methods and targets will be monitored to achieve true economies of scale and market advantages. Having a standardised recycling scheme with the same information across Yorkshire will encourage more recycling and the reuse of precious materials.
The Yorkshire Party will require much tighter controls on unwanted emissions from generating plants and calls for the continued development and implementation of air-filtration and carbon-capture technologies, alongside a presumption against the construction of further energy-from-waste plants. The existing regulation allows a poor standard of self-monitoring of dangerous particulates which are discharged into the air. The incineration of waste encourages the destruction of valuable resources for short-term gain. Some councils even pay to export their waste to other ‘countries’ such as Sweden. This practice should be discouraged. The Yorkshire Party will extend national legislation on air quality right across the region. At present only certain areas are covered by the Clean Air Act 1968. Greatly increased monitoring, Open Data reporting and more ambitious targets will make clean air the right of everyone in Yorkshire. Urban air pollution poses significant harm to the people who live in these areas. We will reduce air pollution by restricting traffic in certain areas, particularly places of high pedestrian use, and encourage the use of more environmentally friendly modes of transport. The will be done in conjunction with the Yorkshire party Transport and Health policies.
The Yorkshire Party seeks to reduce the large scale use of fossil fuels and is opposed to hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’). The Yorkshire party will encourage the use of renewable energy which, includes wind, solar, hydro-electricity, biogas schemes, including human and animal waste (anaerobic digestion), rapidly to reduce and eliminate the use of fossil fuels and nuclear fission power. We call for the reintroduction of subsidies for the installation of solar panels to encourage householders to generate and store electricity.
Alongside renewable energy, water is our most valuable resource. Water should be used wisely, householders should be encouraged to collect rainwater and manufacturers should be encouraged to use recycled water wherever possible. Water courses and aquifers should be respected at all times both to ensure the highest quality water and to encourage a wide range of wildlife and flora. Building Regulations will specify that all new homes have a rainwater capture system installed.
The Yorkshire Party endorses the Humber River Basin Management Plan and will extend the responsibilities on flood prevention. The combination of natural upper land usage with tighter planning will help to mitigate the extreme weather events arising from climate change. The Yorkshire Party will oppose the building of new homes on flood plains unless well-evidenced planning allows a long-term, funded and responsible scheme is provided.
National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are particularly precious and should be better protected. The Yorkshire Party will increase mandatory consultation with and powers of those protectors. The Yorkshire Party will establish a marine protection and research zone covering the entire Yorkshire coast. We will work closely with all sectors of the fishing and conservation industries to ensure the long-term sustainability of sea life. The Yorkshire Party will also champion the establishment of a world-class research and management institution. The Yorkshire Party will extend national rights of way legislation to ensure better access to the countryside for the public. Countywide principles will be devolved to local councils who will be encouraged to forge a tangible link between visitors and custodians for a better understanding of long-term environmental issues.
The Yorkshire Party supports the plan for a Northern forest and will establish a regional forestry commission with a target of planting a native tree for every resident of Yorkshire, every year. The protection of reforestation will reduce soil erosion and stabilise large areas, will greatly help in flood reduction by slowing upland water surges and will reduce air pollution, especially near transport highways.
The Yorkshire Party will champion the Yorkshire brand for all farming produce and will distribute agricultural subsidies to encourage a positive linkage between Yorkshire and the very best in healthy food which is managed in a sustainable way. We will promote Yorkshire grown food and encourage diversification on farms to encourage sustainable tourism and local employment.
Urban Natural Environment
The Yorkshire Party will encourage more tree planting in the urban environment. We will encourage communal vegetable plots, wildlife friendly gardens and community litter picks. Grass cutting programmes in public parks will dedicate ‘wildflower meadow’ areas to encourage more diverse flora and fauna. The Yorkshire Party supports the introduction of intelligent street lighting (such as motion sensor lighting) in built up areas to reduce light pollution and save energy without putting the safety of pedestrians at risk.
The Yorkshire Party will create a single regulator dealing with water quality, air quality, rivers, flooding, contaminated land and environmental conservation areas, e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Yorkshire Environment agency will take over the responsibilities of Natural England, Local authority environmental health monitoring for air quality and take over the responsibilities presently undertaken by the Environment Agency for England and Wales.
The Yorkshire Party will require full disclosure by public bodies of all investments that involve a climate-change or other environmental risk and will remove the current requirement that pension and other investment decisions must not be made on environmental grounds alone. The Yorkshire Party will champion open access to environmental data. We will nurture and encourage research and innovation across all forms of science and engineering to deliver a truly sustainable and enviable way of life. The Yorkshire Party will establish an environmental development facility based upon open-source technology. The entire output will be publicly available and will be free from all intellectual property rights. This will become known as the way we do things in Yorkshire.