Recycling-linked candidates set for polling day
With just days to go before the General Election, while the environment is low down on the national agenda, several candidates with links to recycling will be on the ballot papers.
The current DEFRA minister, Therese Coffey, who is looking to be re-elected in the Suffolk Coastal constituency, does not appear to have focused on environmental issues in the run-up to the election at the local level. Dr Coffey’s focus instead appears to be on Theresa May’s plan for Brexit which she said will “return control to Britain and allow us to stand tall in the world again”.
However, speaking at an environmental hustings event, hosted by the Greener UK coalition last week (1 June) in London, Dr Coffey said a Conservative government would provide ‘stability’ on environmental laws.
Another candidate with an environmental background standing for the Conservative Party is Sarah Heald, director of corporate affairs and investor relations at Pennon Group, the utility firm which owns Viridor and South West Water, who is standing for the first time in Manchester Withington. Her father is Sir Oliver Heald, who is standing to retain his Conservative seat in North East Hertfordshire and was minister of state for courts and justice.
Ms Heald, who is originally from the East of England, told letsrecycle.com, she is “passionate” about sustainable economic growth across the country.
She said: “This is an exciting time for Britain, for our economy and our sector. Huge progress has been made on the environmental agenda since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 and we must ensure this continues.
“We need to make a success of Brexit, taking the best from European environmental legislation whilst developing a ‘bespoke for Britain’ approach.”
And, Ms Heald added: “The next Government will be firmly focused on driving growth across our nations and regions. A renewed message of productivity, innovation, investment, infrastructure and energy security linked to the Industrial Strategy has the potential to place the environmental sector at the heart of government. Whether in Parliament or leading in the workplace, I look forward to translating policy into practice.”
Meanwhile, the current Defra secretary of state, Andrea Leadsom, similarly to Dr Coffey, rather than looking at environmental concerns, has focussed on local issues including roads and hospitals in her constituency campaign for South Northamptonshire.
On the Labour side, existing and past front bench MPs are looking to keep their seats, including Kerry McCarthy in Bristol and the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, who has mentioned environmental issues such as air quality during her campaign for Wakefield.
Also seeking a seat again is Mark Dempsey, labour candidate and waste policy advisor for Hewlett Packard, who will be standing for North Swindon for the second time, in spite of his defeat by the Conservatives in 2015.
Mr Dempsey notes a “history of tackling environmental issues and promoting regeneration in Swindon”. The Labour candidate started out as an environmental advisor at the University of Gloucestershire before working as a senior manager at the Parliamentary Sustainable Waste Group and as development officer at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. He joined HP in 2006.
Another Labour candidate hoping to gain a Conservative-held seat until now is Robert Pocock for Sutton Coldfield.
Mr Pocock of M.E.L Research, will be standing against the Tory MP Andrew Mitchell for the fifth time.
M.E.L Research is known to the industry for its consultancy work, delivering municipal waste monitoring and audits and field-testing of the Waste & Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) food waste analysis protocol.
The Liberal Democrats are looking to gain ground in the election. Former recycling minister Dan Rogerson, will be fighting to regain his seat in North Cornwall, which he lost to Conservative candidate, Scott Mann, in the last election.
The former minister caused consternation when he was appointed to the position in late 2013, and subsequently releasing a controversial letter that indicated the government would be “stepping back” from policy issues relevant to the waste and recycling sector.
Another candidate with environmental credentials is Dr Susan Juned who stood in the Stratford upon Avon seat at the last election, who said she was standing in Redditch at a time when the UK “is facing very worrying and uncertain times”.
With a background in the environment, including running the former BREW resources and waste support centre for local government, Dr Juned said that while “of course at the local level NHS and similar issues are of great concern, nationally resource management, energy policy and energy efficiency are also important issues.
“One of the causes of concern is that we don’t know where we are going with the EU. I was a remainer and still believe we should be in the EU. For the recycling sector and the circular economy there are huge advantages in working within the EU.”
And she pointed to the work done in the past within the EU by organisations based in the UK such as International Synergies (formerly NISP) and the Ellen McArthur Foundation.”
The aspiring MP highlighted the fact that the LibDems had included more in their policies on green issues than other mainstream parties and that this included a specific chapter in the LibDem ‘Green Book’ which advocated reducing waste and using resources wisely. “We have said that they want strongly to support innovative technology and to find uses for secondary materials as well as finding substitutes for materials that are in short supply”.
Other candidates with sector links are also standing in other parts of the UK, including the Green Party’s Paul Woodhead, a fellow of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), who will be looking for a seat in Cannock Chase.