Environment centre stage as parties set out their plans

The Environmental Industries Commission says it is encouraged by the priority given to the environment in the main UK party manifestos. Brownfield, air pollution and climate change all feature - but not all ar eembraced by all parties. 

With the main UK political parties having released their manifestos, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) – the trade body representing the UK’s enviro tech and services sector – has spoken out in response to the green pledges made by the political establishment. Here are the some of the highlights of which EIC feels the environment sector should take note.


In the Labour manifesto, the party champions an ‘Industrial strategy for the green economy’, placing greater emphasis on using low-carbon technologies to potentially create tens of thousands of jobs. According to EIC Labour’s vision “would be very useful from a high level strategic perspective”, prioritising green growth across the economy in all areas of government business. Such a plan, EIC says, would make the environment not only a matter for DEFRA and DECC, but a government-wide issue.

“It is heartening that Labour recognise the potential of the green economy, and the importance of using government policy to create a stable investment framework,” said EIC’s Executive Director Matthew Farrow. “The strategy needs to cover the full range of environmental business, including areas such as air pollution control and contaminated land remediation.”

EIC also welcomed Labour’s call for a national framework for Low Emission Zones. With London struggling to meet air pollution reduction targets, they’ve taken the lead by establishing Low Emission Zones. As a result, other cities across the country are taking London’s lead and are contemplating Low Emission Zones of their own. As this develops, a national framework will ensure consistency across different cities.

However, EIC expressed disappointment there was very little in the manifesto of waste management and resource efficiency with the 2020 target of 50% municipal recycling.


In the Conservative manifesto, EIC were encouraged by the party’s reaffirmed commitment to targets established by the Climate Change Act, and agreed that meeting these obligations in a cost-effective manner is sensible.

They also expressed enthusiasm for the Tories’ plan to invest £1 billion in contaminated land remediation, requiring councils to use the funds to deliver planning permission on 90% of their brownfield sites.

“The preferential reuse of historically used but well positioned development sites in an around our towns and cities makes both economic and environmental sense,” said Peter Atchison, chairman of EIC’s Contaminated Land Working Group.

However, with the Conservative pledge only applying to council-owned brownfield land, EIC stresses the need for the mandate to apply to all brownfield land.

EIC were also concerned the Conservatives made almost no mention on air pollution, which is becoming a growing problem.

“Air pollution is not only a very important environmental concern, it is a rising public health concern,” said EIC Deputy Public Affairs Director Sam Ibbott. “It’s a concern today, but we (EIC) fear it’s only going to get worse and become an increasingly important issue, particularly in cities.”

Liberal Democrats

The environment featured quite prominently in the Liberal Democrat manifesto. Like Labour, the Lib Dems have made Low Emission Zones a green priority, which would feature as part of a wider national air quality plan. They also propose to give full borrowing powers to the Green Investment Bank to fund low carbon technologies. Their new legally-binding target for a Zero Carbon Britain by 2050 is ambitious, according to EIC, but altogether welcoming.

“If these commitments are met it would be a significant step forward in making the UK a less carbon intensive and resource efficient economy,” Farrow said. “That could create many thousands of jobs and would improve our quality of life.”

Green Party

Meanwhile in the Green Party manifesto, EIC strongly supports a number of its pledges from its commitment to reduce diesel emissions and tough carbon reduction targets, to its nationwide insulation retrofit programme. While these programmes would create thousands of green jobs, Farrow says getting the technical details right would be a challenge.


Similarly UKIP’s stance on brownfield redevelopment in their manifesto has been welcomed by EIC. The party’s proposal to create a National Brownfield Sites Register, which would act as a database of available brownfield land “could prove useful” going forward.

However, EIC has “deep concerns” over UKIP’s pledge to repeal the Climate Change Act, and with the party also championing a greater reliance on fossil fuels, Farrow says such pledges “are short-sighted and will do little to protect our environment for future generations.”


EIC is a non-partisan organisation and works on behalf of the environmental technologies and services industry. It will work with and continue to support government regardless of the outcome of the General Election.

More on the manifestos here