Where Greater Manchester’s mayoral candidates stand on the city region’s environmental issues

Towards Rivington Pike
Rivington Pike: seen in the distance is one of Greater Manchester’s best loved rural spots.

The environment isn’t only analogous to our city region’s transport policy. It affects the way we live, how we exercise, how we work, and our mental health. As well as affordable public transport, cycling provision, and our social life, it is also the ability to share green spaces and respect our neighbours. Animals as well as human beings.

The Greater Manchester City Region, its people and local government bodies, has done a lot of work to improve its surrounding. During the 1970s, former railway lines assumed the guise of linear parks and off-street cycleways. This led to places like Daisy Nook and Park Bridge being enjoyable retreats from the hustle and bustle. They became useful hives of activity for walking, fishing, and exploring our industrial heritage. A world away from their industrial activity in previous centuries.

Even now, a lot of work needs to be done. The buses, if left unregulated, could see further cuts and greater car ownership as a result. Cuts in local government grants have forced local authorities into selling off some green spaces, primarily for houses. This, as an alternative to cutting public services. Then you’ve got, at central government level, energy policies that have favoured fossil fuels over windmills and solar panels.

The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

Uniting mayoral candidates of all colours is The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework. In the document was a plan to ensure Greater Manchester “have the right land in the right places to deliver the homes and jobs we need up to 2035”. During the first draft’s consultation period, the loss of green belt land was a sore point for many people. For example, this meant the development of Sidebottom Fold, Stalybridge, into an estate of executive homes.

Prior to the end of its consultation period, there was protests. There was walks along the affected sites, all over the ten districts which make up the city region. MPs were similarly up in arms with the proposals, which could see 225,000 new homes on green belt land. Unsurprisingly, the environment is high up in the list of many mayoral candidates priorities.

Andy Burnham, Labour:

Greater Manchester’s forward thinking nature, according to Andy Burnham, could be a good match for carbon neutrality and green economic policies. This includes the enhancement of Greater Manchester’s cycle provision (as detailed in our look at transport policies). He aims to host a Mayor’s Green Summit within a year of the election. Among the mayor’s flagship plans is to make Greater Manchester carbon neutral before the the city region’s present target, which is 2050. Another is the creation of a City Forest Park on the Salford and Bury border.

Where energy meets the environment, Andy Burnham aims to make Greater Manchester a fracking free zone. In a bid to increase energy efficiency whilst holding down utility bills, a Greater Manchester Energy Company is proposed.

Will Patterson, The Green Party of England and Wales:

The Great Northern Greenhouse is hailed as Will’s alternative to the Northern Powerhouse. This, in his words is “a Metropolitan area that people and politicians all over the world will look to as the standard for a sustainable, fair, prosperous city”.

Should he be elected, he will identify urban and industrial areas (reclaimed by nature) as new Green Belt land. He will also consider the addition of low emission zones and throw out the existing Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Sean Anstee, Conservative Party:

Like Andy Burnham, he also supports the City Forest Park. Alongside Will, he favours greater protections for green belt land and open spaces. With the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, he would like to focus on existing communities as well as new ones.

With local councils, he would like to established green highways between homes and workplace. He also supports a scheme to plant 10,000 trees alongside our motorways and other areas with poor air quality.

Shneur Odze, United Kingdom Independence Party:

Shneur Odze would like to protect Greater Manchester’s green belt from development. In other words, like his Green Party rival, he probably wants to see the back of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework document. Interestingly, UKIP’s 2015 General Election manifesto unequivocally supported fracking.

Mohammed Aslam, Independent:

Mohammed’s favours the expansion of playgrounds and open spaces, giving more children a safe place to play.

Marcus Farmer, Independent:

As detailed in our look at transport policies, he would like to see buses and trams free at the point of use. A move that could cut traffic on our roads.

Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrats:

Jane Brophy, the Timperley councillor is among the most passionate candidates on Greater Manchester’s environment. She has lent her support to rallies against the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, due to urban sprawl. Jane also favours the use of pollution-scrubbing technologies – green walls and green roofs on new build projects for example. If elected, she will encourage the use of less polluting forms of transport and add urban parks to the city region.

Other plans considered by the Liberal Democrat candidate include a carbon reduction scheme for business. Plus extreme weather and flooding plan mitigation schemes within central Manchester. If elected, her office will also track and map pollution, understanding where and when it reaches very high levels.

Stephen Morris, English Democrats:

The English Democrats’ mayoral candidate opposes fracking in Greater Manchester. Stephen is also against building on green belt land and favours the addition of solar panels on all residential property and industrial units. To save space, he believes underground car parking is the way forward for new developments.

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Next up on It’s Up The Poll! 2017

We shall be looking at how Greater Manchester Mayoral Election candidates’ plans for our economy. Stay tuned for further announcements.

S.V., 01 May 2017.

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