05:59PM, Tuesday 10 December 2019
Maidenhead’s parliamentary candidates set out their green policies via a climate hustings debate at the Town Hall on Wednesday last week.
A packed Desborough Theatre questioned the four hopefuls on topics such as their party’s plans for dealing with the climate crisis, and Heathrow’s proposed third runway.
Answering questions from the audience were the Conservatives’ Theresa May, Labour’s Pat McDonald, The Lib Dem’s Joshua Reynolds and Green Party candidate Emily Tomalin.
The hustings was chaired by climate activist Deborah Mason and organised by the RBWM Climate Emergency Coalition group.
One question centred around the Royal Borough’s declaration of a climate emergency in June, and the lack of ‘evidence and action’ being taken by the council since.
Mrs May said: “I disagree that the council has not done anything. If you look at Battlemead Common, Ockwells Park – these are all examples of how the council is responding.”
Each party member was then asked what steps they would take in early 2020 to reduce carbon emissions.
Ms Tomalin said the Green Party would invest £100billion a year in offshore wind farms and build energy efficient homes.
Mr Reynolds told of the Lib Dems’ pledge to make all low income homes insulated by 2025 - and all homes by 2050. He also promised to freeze rail fares for the next five years to encourage more people to catch the train.
Mr McDonald said Labour would improve public transport by taking the railway back into public ownership.
Mrs May commented that any steps taken in early 2020 ‘are not going to have an immediate effect’, adding that clean bus and rail networks would take time to implement.
A key topic centred around Heathrow’s planned third runway, which received a mixed response across the table.
Both Mr Reynolds and Ms Tomalin said they were wholly against the idea.
“At any given time there is at least one plane over the skies of Maidenhead,” the Lib Dem candidate said.
But Mrs May and Mr McDonald said they would not oppose the third runway.
“I presided over a government that took the decision to expand Heathrow,” Mrs May said.
“Actually there are a lot of people who work [there].
“There are a whole variety of things they have to meet in order for the approval to be given. My answer to your question is no.”
Mr McDonald – who has a brother in Australia – said we should not be stopping people visiting friends and family across the world.
But Mr Reynolds said: “We are not shutting Heathrow down. Jobs are not going anywhere. But Heathrow expansion is not compatible with net zero carbon emissions.”
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