Manifesto puts UK’s ‘green economy’ in the spotlight

In a new manifesto presented to the UK government, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has set out a series of recommendations on how a world-leading environmental industry might be established in the UK.

The EIC’s so-called ’2011 industry manifesto for driving growth and competitiveness in the UK’s green economy’ was prepared by leading business people and policy experts in the UK’s environmental industry, which has a value of £112bn, an export turnover of some £10bn and employs just under one million people.

Key recommendations in the manifesto include the introduction of a national framework of low emission zones — with minimum emission standards for on- and-off road vehicles — to support local authorities in taking action to tackle poor air quality in hotspot problem areas.

It also calls for setting legal limits for land contamination so that local authorities could define ’unacceptable risk’ to human health or the environment and, therefore, the trigger point at which land must be remediated.

The commission would also like to ensure that a forthcoming water white paper addresses OFWAT’s regulatory role to prevent the ’boom-and-bust’ five-year funding cycle of water companies, and ensure sustainability and employment in the supply chain.

Additionally, it calls upon the government to bring forward proposals for the Green Investment Bank to have borrowing powers to help facilitate and accelerate private sector investment in environmental innovations.

Launching the document, Adrian Wilkes, EIC’s executive chairman, said that the EIC welcomed David Cameron’s post-election statements about the business opportunities for British companies in the emerging ’green economy’.

However, he also challenged the government to see the ’green economy’ as an investment not a cost. ’There has been increasing frustration within the environment technology and services industry of the lack of policy detail and engagement of ministers to address certain concerns of the industry that would help and accelerate green jobs, innovation, investment and accelerate growth in the green economy,’ he said.