'330,000 more homes' at flood risk
The Tories would put 330,000 more properties at risk of flooding over the next 20 years by failing to tackle climate change, Labour claimed today.
In the latest speech in the Opposition's summer offensive, shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle said David Cameron has broken his promise to lead the "greenest government ever".
She cited figures from independent advisory body the Committee on Climate Change suggesting that 330,000 more properties would be at risk of flooding by 2035 on the Government's current plans.
"The choice at the next election is about real leadership from Labour on the environment and climate change or the indifference, inaction and hostility that we have seen from David Cameron and his Government," Ms Eagle told an audience in Woking, Surrey.
"It is the sort of leadership that Ed Miliband showed when he piloted the Climate Change Act 2008 through Parliament, when he was in office. He's already shown that he gets this.
"David Cameron is the leader who said 'vote blue, go green' to get elected and then told his aides to cut the 'green crap' after he got elected.
"And that is why the next election matters so much."
But a Conservative Party spokesman dismissed the intervention as "political posturing", arguing that under the Labour government's plans 350,000 would have been at risk by 2035.
"There are actually fewer properties at future risk of flooding than when Labour were last in power. And don't just take our word for it - that's what their own figures show," the spokesman said.
"Contrary to what Labour will tell you, Britain has seen real improvements in its flood defences these past four years. This hasn't happened by accident. Because this Government has taken difficult decisions on the deficit - and cut wasteful spending elsewhere - we've been able to spend more on flood defences, helping families plan for the future with confidence."
"Of course there's still much more to do - but Labour's intervention lacks any credibility."
Guy Shrubsole, a Friends Of The Earth climate campaigner, said: "It's great to see Labour toughening their position on climate change and flood risk - Labour's right that households need to be protected from flooding caused by climate change, but they, along with all parties, must definitively commit to meeting the huge shortfall in funding for flood defences."
Ms Eagle also used her speech to insist Labour wants to devolve power to local authorities that were willing to take action against air pollution.
She said the UK has "one of the worst records of any European country" for exceeding EU air pollution limits, saying: "I t is a problem crying out for Government action - not least because from next year the EU will be able to levy hundreds of millions of pounds in fines for our failure to meet the targets set for safe air quality in the UK."
Ms Eagle went on: "W e believe that everyone should have the right to breathe clean air but it is the responsibility of central Government - not just the responsibility of local authorities - to tackle the causes of air pollution.
"The next Labour government will deliver a national framework for low emission zones to enable local authorities to encourage cleaner, greener, less polluting vehicles to begin to tackle this problem."
She added: " Unlike this Tory-led Government, the Labour Party will devolve the power, not just the responsibility, for local authorities willing take action against air pollution.
"Most importantly we will support and work with Local Authorities who wish to take action to reduce the air pollution caused by road traffic, something which this Government has failed to do over the last four years.
"Many local authorities already wish to implement various forms of low emission zones in their respective geographical areas but are being discouraged because there is no such framework."