Written by Nathan Spackman

Barry Action for Nature asks Vale Senedd candidates how they would protect the environment on Earth Day

22nd April 2021

To recognise Earth Day (22nd April), Barry Action for Nature has asked the candidates standing in the Senedd elections for the Vale of Glamorgan Constituency a question about how they would protect the environment and our natural world.

The group was originally planning a face to face "Green Question Time event", open to the public, but due to the Covid restrictions this has not been possible.

Each candidate was asked to answer the following question in no more than 200 words:

"Both the Vale of Glamorgan and Welsh Government have declared climate emergencies. What would you do as a Senedd Member to help tackle the climate and ecological emergencies?"

The organisation contacted all candidates, excluding independent candidate Alan Coulthard and Freedom Alliance candidate Neil Shah, who it could not find contact details for in time for Earth Day.

Candidates responses, in alphabetical order:

Richard Grigg - Plaid Cymru:" Facing up to the Climate and Nature Emergency is the challenge of our time, and is what we will be most judged upon by future generations. Unless governments across the world step up, freak weather events will become commonplace, drastic changes to our climate will affect the most disadvantaged, and our natural world will suffer irreparable harm. Plaid Cymru are ready to face this challenge as a government. To be serious about climate change we must tackle it across multiple areas, embedding it at the heart of decision-making at all levels of government. Addressing our harmful impact on the planet will be the collective responsibility of the whole government, guided by the Minister for the Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs who will have overall direct responsibility.Plaid Cymru would create, under the umbrella of the Development Bank and in conjunction with the National Infrastructure Commission, a new Welsh National Infrastructure Bank. This will finance renewable energy generation and storage for public buildings, homes and workplaces. It will offer credit for local energy coops and utilities so that as much as possible of this new infrastructure can be democratically owned at the local level."

Jane Hutt - Labour: "The Welsh Labour Government was the first to declare a Climate Emergency in 2018, publishing a Low Carbon Plan and ensuring budget decisions address low carbon & biodiversity measures. We raised and will put into law our ambition of emissions targets to 95%. Our manifesto includes a 10-year Infrastructure Investment Plan for a zero-carbon economy, introduces a new law to abolish commonly littered plastics & commits to building 20,000 new low carbon rental homes. We will play a full part in COP26 & help address the devastating impact climate change has on Africa, planting 25 million trees with 15 million already planted. We will extend the National Forest for Wales and support new renewable energy technology, backing a world-leading Wales Tidal Lagoon Challenge. Working with groups like Barry Action for Nature and the Vale of Glamorgan Council we’ll create new woodlands, connect habitat areas, and protect ancient woodlands. We’ll invest in flood protection for more than 45,000 homes, introduce a Clean Air Act for Wales & oppose the extraction of fossil fuels. We will create 2000 pollinator habitat sites,1000 community food growing sites, 200 community orchards, 100 tiny forests, and 50 habitat creation schemes at rail & bus stations in Wales."

Karl-James Langford - Gwlad - the Welsh Independence Party: "I am the lead list candidate for Gwlad in the South Central region, and it's Vale candidate. What do you need from me, and if I can answer the question below, it is very simple, I have already placed out a press release on this: A licence should be issued for every tree to be felled. On a personal note, I believe the answer to the climate emergency is to reduce levels of human population .This must be achieved by a reduction of child births, something that no politician will discuss, I am NOT a politician. That is my answer."

Anthony Slaughter -Green Party: "Tackling the Climate Emergency and restoring nature are at the heart of Wales Green Party policy. Our policies across every area would ensure that carbon emission reduction targets are met at the scale and pace needed, as demanded by the science. As a Senedd member I would be pushing our ambitious policies to help Wales reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.I would advocate for a Welsh Government Commissioner for Biodiversity and Animal Protection to reverse the decline of biodiversity in Wales. The Commissioner would be responsible for developing a task force and set of plans for the recovery of Welsh ecologies, landscapes, animals and plant life. Our radical Green New Deal would transform Welsh society, providing Green jobs in a genuine Well-being Economy, and better, healthier living through warm homes and reduced air pollution, creating a cleaner and greener world for future generations. In the Senedd I would do all in my power to ensure that public spending to support the economy must always prioritise new jobs for the climate and nature emergencies. Our Green Transformation Fund for Wales would raise the finance necessary for the urgent measures needed to tackle these twin crises."

Sally Stephenson - Liberal Democrats: "A Welsh Liberal Democrat government will put the climate and our planet at the heart of its agenda. We will: Invest £1bn per year to fight the climate emergency. Pass a Green Homes Act to help cut average household energy bills by £500 per year and build smarter, more energy efficient homes. Take action to protect our natural environment and biodiversity, including flooding, reforestation, wildlife conservation, marine conservation and loss of open, public green space. More specifically: Declare a Nature and Biodiversity crisis, setting out the cross-government and societal actions needed to leave a thriving planet for future generations. Agree Nature and Marine Recovery Plans, to clean up our environment and our waters, protect species, and ensure that our environment can thrive. Introduce legally binding nature recovery targets with regular milestones, backed up by monitoring and reporting Make every town in Wales a Tree Town, with every council preparing a long-term Tree and Woodland Strategy to deliver and sustain a minimum of 20% tree cover in urban areas and 30% tree cover for all new developments. Update and improve tree protection legislation as part of our plans for a new Welsh Planning Act. Increase tree cover on farms with payments under a Hedges and Edges Scheme, supporting climate-smart, nature-friendly farming."

Those candidates who did not respond to the questions were:

Matt Smith - Welsh Conservative,

Janet Brocklehurst - Propel

Stuart Field - Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

Michael Hancock - Reform UK

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