Tory peer says green lobbyists only want to 'criticise' and 'berate'
The Earl of Caithness let off steam in a Lords debate on air quality.
Environmental campaigners have hit back at a Conservative peer who launched a scathing attack on their lobbying tactics.
The Earl of Caithness, a hereditary peer, told the House of Lords that the environmental lobby only wanted to "criticise, criticise, criticise".
He added that ministers should not expect any thanks from the green lobby for introducing measures to improve air quality.
"As soon as you do what it wants it will not thank you - it will go and find something else to berate you about," he complained.
But Anna Jones, a clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, insisted that her organisation had put forward constructive proposals on air quality.
Politicians acting upon them would be thanked and respected, Jones added.
Responding to the comments by the Earl of Caithness, she told PAN: "It is our job to hold those in power to account, to promote a safer and cleaner planet for all. Unfortunately the government's latest draft air quality plan fails to tackle a major contributor to the problem: polluting diesel cars.
"We have outlined constructive proposals for an alternative approach which we hope the government will take note of in their final plan this summer. When politicians do take action, they can expect not just thanks from the environmental movement, but the respect of those who'll see the threat of toxic air pollution lifted from their families and communities."
Figures recently obtained by Labour showed that more than 38 million people, representing 59.3% of the UK population, are living in areas where levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution were above legal limits.
Air pollution in London passed levels in Beijing in early 2017, figures have shown. The government’s latest proposals were published in May and were widely condemned, with London mayor Sadiq Khan calling them “woefully inadequate”.
The Earl of Caithness is Malcolm Sinclair, a former minister under Margaret Thatcher. He was speaking in a Lords debate this month on improving air quality in London, called by the Tory peer Lord Borwick.
He said: "Much has been done in the last 70 years to improve air quality… We tackled the smog problem, and I recall being the Minister in charge when we did great things on unleaded petrol and the large plants directive regarding emissions from power stations, and things like that—all improving air quality.”
Addressing Lord Borwick, he added: "I say to my noble friend that he should not expect any thanks from the environmental lobby. It will criticise, criticise, criticise, and as soon as you do what it wants it will not thank you—it will go and find something else to berate you about."
Picture by: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images