Shadow environment secretary Maria Eagle has said the Government’s decision to let market forces dictate waste and resources policy is “fundamentally flawed”.
Speaking to a Labour Party Conference fringe event organised by the World Wildlife Foundation and the Fabian Society, Eagle said she was outraged that the coalition had failed to stimulate the green economy.
She strongly criticised the announcement made last year by resources minister Dan Rogerson that Defra would reduce its policy work on waste because of budget cuts.
She said: “How can we move towards a zero-waste economy that drives jobs and growth if the Government refuses to take a leadership role? Yet that’s exactly what Dan Rogerson did when he became minister in charge of resources.
“He sent a letter to key stakeholders in the sector saying that the Government was ‘stepping back in areas where businesses are better placed to act and there is no clear market failure’.
“It’s a reflection of a fundamentally flawed political analysis. When many environmental problems are the result of how markets work in the old economy you can’t just get out of the way and expect those markets to sort themselves out.”
Eagle, left, said she wanted to see new jobs created from recycling industrial and household waste, adding: “That’s why in June this year my colleague Barry Gardiner announced that Labour will undertake a review of resource security to set out a plan to make this happen.”
In her key Labour Conference speech during a debate on sustainability and the environment, Eagle also criticised the coalition for refusing to set a 2030 decarbonisation target.
She added: “They’re holding back green growth and jobs by refusing to give the Green Investment Bank any borrowing powers.”
Eagle also highlighted Labour plans to set up a National Infrastructure Commission to “identify the UK’s long term infrastructure needs”.
Eagle and other shadow ministers have also pledged to bring back Labour’s Food 2030 strategy, which was originally published in 2010.
The strategy outlined goals to minimise food waste and reduce the environmental impact of food packaging.
It also detailed plans to boost anaerobic digestion initiatives by setting up a £10m programme to provide financial incentives for renewable energy and capital grant programmes.