Election 2015: The Case of the Missing Environmental Policy

The election campaign is reaching fever pitch, with party leaders and supporters alike fighting over immigration, welfare and economic policies; each trying to out do the other with promises pandering to the latest media storm. But between the debating over what makes a person ‘British’ and the mudslinging over welfare costs, one major area of policy making has been conveniently down played.

Environmental policy has never been famous for being a vote changer, but the shear lack of debate surrounding the future of this country’s wildlife, energy resources and green land is simply worrying.

So far this election has largely focused on the big three’s plans for our generation, with housing, education and unemployment being used as trigger policies to win the young vote. But amongst the exchange surrounding what our generation stands to inherit, a growing population, dwindling energy supply and damage to green land has not been part of the conversation.

Gas extraction has been one of the most contentious environmental arguments over the last couple of years, with anti-fracking protests and the capture of the Arctic 30 gaining extensive news coverage. But cast an eye over the big three’s policies and the future of Britain’s energy resources seems unclear. Not even Thursday night’s leaders debate managed to shed any light on what the main party’s promises are concerning the environment.

All three have made vague promises concerning renewable sources, but it is unclear whether this is to appease the threat of the rising green vote, or whether this is a truly legitimate push to make Britain a greener place to live. But when we evaluate the needs of the undecided young voters each party is trying to attract, it seems the big three might be missing a trick.

Young voters are more aware of the threat to our environment than that of any generation before us. We learnt about the threat of global warming in the classroom, lived through the GM debate and make informed decisions to buy free-range produce. To us recycling bins, reusable bags and sustainable fish lists are the norm. For our generation the worry surrounding Britain’s future is much deeper than welfare costs and immigration.

There seems to be a sheer lack of understanding amongst the bigger parties that the success of their policies hinders on the health of our environment. Solving the housing crisis will be of no use if there is higher danger of flooding and there will be no more free school meals if there is no way to power school kitchens. So why are Cameron, Clegg and Milliband refusing to properly address this issue?

This election has been the first in a long time to present smaller outlying political parties as an actual threat to the big three’s hopes for Government. This has been demonstrated by the UKIP anti-immigration support forcing Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems to publicly declare their stance on Europe. But whilst UKIPs supporters shout the loudest about their concerns, the big three may have underestimated the growing support for the Greens, the party with the environment at the heart of its policy making. As polling day gets closer and opinion polls begin to make the headlines, it is clear to see that the lack of environmental concern in 2015s manifestos has not gone unnoticed by the British public, leaving us once again with the very real threat of another hung parliament.

Another five years of uncertainty and cabinet infighting a hung parliament could bring is not going to drive Britain in the direction of success. But more importantly another five years of indefinite environmental policy is going to set Britain backwards on the path towards environmental stability and leave our generation with a very real problem when it comes to building a stable Britain for our children.

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