Minister attacks UK government\'s green failures
LONDON - Environment Minister Michael Meacher accused Prime Minister Tony Blair\'s Labour government on the weekend of avoiding difficult decisions on green issues.
Meacher, who was last week first cut from and then reinstated in Britain\'s delegation to the forthcoming Earth Summit in Johannesburg, told the Sunday Times he felt he was \"a lone voice in the wilderness\".
\"I make no bones about it. I don\'t think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of the decisions I think are necessary,\" he said.
\"The world is going very fast into the buffers. Very few people understand that.\"
Asked if he felt Blair understood that, he said: \"I hope so\".
The environment minister last week became the subject of a media coup after newspapers said he had been axed from the government\'s summit team by Blair\'s office to save money.
He was later reinstated after pressure group Friends of the Earth embarrassed Downing Street by publicly offering to meet the costs of his trip.
While Meacher refused to blame anyone, he told the newspaper it would have been \"an odd\" decision to exclude him.
He also acknowledged that he very often swam against the government\'s tide.
\"There are times when I am a force in the government to push policy in a different direction,\" he said.
Meacher hit out at the government\'s policies on housing, cars and airports.
Plans to build a new airport just east of London in Cliffe, north Kent would have \"huge environmental consequences,\" he said.
He also questioned the assumption that ever growing demand for air traffic should be met.
\"The skies are larger than the roads, but capacity is not indefinite,\" he told the Sunday Times.
Meacher said it was time that Labour recognised how important the green issue was to voters.
\"There has been a lot of talk with new Labour about middle Britain. This is classic middle Britain. There\'s votes in it.\"
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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