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Environment / Disappointment at Labour’s green cutbacks – but councillor points to ‘economic shambles’ as context

Labour councillor Tom Morton says scaling back the investment is a result the Tories’ impact on the economy

SHETLAND’s Labour councillor has admitted his disappointment at his party’s U-turn on green investment – but said it is a response to the “economic shambles” resulting from Conservative policy.

Labour recently confirmed it was halting its policy to spend around £28 billion a year on green investment, and instead proposed to commit less than £15 billion – a figure which includes existing government investment plans.

Projects which are targeted through Labour’s scheme included hydrogen power and offshore wind.

Tom Morton.

But Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said since the £28 billion pledge was announced two and a half years ago interest rates have risen considerably amid economic uncertainty, suggesting the party needs to be fiscally responsible.

He said Labour “green prosperity plan remains central in our mission to grow the economy and deliver clean power by 2030”, adding that it will lead to “tens of billions of pounds of private sector investment” in the likes of green hydrogen and carbon capture.

It comes ahead of a general election later this year, with Labour leading many polls.

Responding to the policy change, SIC Labour councillor Tom Morton said he would be lying if he was not disappointed with the cutbacks to the green pledges.

“We all have the future of the planet on our minds,” he said.

“But in lots of ways it’s a response to the economic shambles Liz Truss’s toxic legacy and other Tory policies have left us with.

“Practically, we need to do what we can afford.

“And we need to safeguard the vulnerable members of society for whom warmth may simply come down to affording a bag of coal from the Co-op.

“In Shetland, we can’t allow obsessive grandstanding on green issues to leave our industry floundering and our elderly or very young struggling for heat and wellbeing.

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“The environment is crucial for our future. Pragmatism means we must combine investment in net zero with zero tolerance for poverty, hunger and ill health.”

Meanwhile local Green councillor Alex Armitage described it as a “huge disappointment – but also confirmation that they [Labour] are not up to the job of leading our country into the future”.

“The UK economy is floundering, we desperately need new political leadership which is prepared to put its money where its mouth is,” he added.

“This wet handkerchief approach to the huge challenges of the 21st century tells you all you need to know about Keir Starmer.”

Armitage also called for fast action on the climate, adding that it was a “huge opportunity” for the economy.

He said his party are proposing a “huge programme of public investment, which would start with a huge home insulation programme, slashing energy bills and reducing the need for folk to live in fuel poverty in the first place”.

“We need a government that is willing to provide the investment that we need to change the economy, from one that only serves the rich, to one that serves ordinary people and our environment, which we all depend on,” he said.

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