- Industry involves digging natural resources out of the ground (or harvesting them) and turning them into products – a simple process, but one that can be very dangerous. Many resources, perfectly harmless in their natural state, are processed into highly toxic substances and released into the environment.
- We are using natural resources too rapidly and with scant regard for the consequences. The results include climate change; ozone depletion; acidification; increasing levels of waste and background radioactivity; dioxins accumulating in human and animal tissue; pollution of air, soil and water; and rising incidences of cancer and allergies. Britain lags way behind most other European countries in the recycling league. The Government’s response is to build more incinerators, which spread dioxins and undermine attempts to reduce waste.
- Mineral extraction continues to be a significant activity in Wessex, major hard rock quarries being situated in the Mendip Hills, with sand and gravel extraction prominent along the river valleys. Much mineral extraction is for use in the road-building sector. The Wessex Regionalists are concerned that mineral use should be reduced so that the landscape is protected but that legitimate uses, particularly the use of local stone for building purposes, are not constrained. We support the recycling of aggregates for suitable purposes and oppose the specification of primary materials where not essential for the structural properties required.
- Pollution, waste and the consumption of non-renewable resources will be reduced by many of our policies, but their regulation must also be tightened radically. International co-operation is needed to prevent the dumping of goods produced abroad to lower environmental and quality standards than those applying in the UK. EU and world trade rules that currently prevent action being taken must be reformed.
A regionalist government in Wessex will:
- set strict limits for pollutants, using the critical load approach for air pollution, and reduce hazardous substances in water to natural levels by 2020
- phase out all toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals and require the chemical industry to convert to biodegradable substances by 2020
- require industry to re-use, recycle or process hazardous waste on site where possible and fit best available technology to reduce emissions
- phase out landfill and waste incineration
- ‘name and shame’ councils failing to meet recycling targets
- fund a network of re-use, repair and recycling centres
- set standards for the recycled contents of suitable products, establish deposit schemes for re-usable materials and stabilise the markets for recyclable materials
- promote digestion plants introduced to produce biogas from sewage, agricultural, organic and non-recycled waste.
Meanwhile, the Wessex Regionalists will:
- campaign for local authorities to introduce recycling schemes (including home separation of materials for collection) that match or exceed European best practice.