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Green Party pledges to end dominance of 'Big Six' energy companies

The Green Party has pledged to end the dominance of the "Big Six" energy companies as part of a package of measures it says will put the environment at the heart of politics.

Co-leader Caroline Lucas will announce plans to create locally owned energy companies to break the monopoly of the major energy suppliers.

The Greens say they would create a new environmental regulator and court to protect the natural world after Britain leaves the European Union.

The party would also introduce a bottle deposit scheme to stop millions of plastic bottles damaging the environment.

Launching the party's policy on Thursday, Ms Lucas is expected to say: "With 2016 the hottest year on record, and a climate-denier in the White House, the need for bold and dynamic action on climate change has never been more urgent.

"The UK must lead the world in building a green economy and investing in a viable future - one that respects and nurtures the natural systems on which we depend.

"The Greens are the only party to truly recognise the importance of the environment."

Among the proposals are radical steps to overhaul Britain's energy system.

The Greens want to create locally owned alternative energy suppliers in every town and city.

They say this network could generate at least 42 gigawatts of energy by 2025 - around the total amount of energy demand across the UK on a typical winter day.

The party would also require grid operators to give priority access to community energy projects.

The Green Party will push for a new Environmental Protection Act in the wake of Brexit, with a "Green guarantee" protecting current EU regulations and putting long-term goals for the environment into law.

This legislation would create a new Office for Environmental Protection and an environmental court that would monitor and enforce new long-term goals for biodiversity, water and air quality.

It would also establish a right for every person in the UK to have access to a green space, promoting good mental health and physical exercise.

"Building a successful economy is not at odds with protecting our environment, it is impossible without it," Ms Lucas will say.

"A prosperous, thriving future will be green - or not at all."

The Greens would introduce a ban on fracking, phase out fossil fuel subsidies and bring forward the coal phaseout date to 2023.

The party would also roll out progressive energy tariffs, so that small consumers pay less per unit than large ones, people are not cut off when they cannot afford to pay, and nobody is forced to have pre-payment meters.

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