Green Lib Dems on policy offensive

By Alex Stevenson

The Liberal Democrats have begun a series of policy announcements before the second TV leaders’ debate, in a bid to rebuff attacks from Labour and the Conservatives.

Nick Clegg began with the announcement today of a plan to redirect £3.1 billion of spending towards a ‘green stimulus’ which would create over 30,000 jobs.

Under the proposals, a Lib Dem government would take money from other government spending projects and use it to invest in wind energy, energy efficiency and renovation of empty homes.

The stimulus would only last a year, however. After this it would be rediverted to other Lib Dem spending priorities, the party said.

“The climate science tells us that this is our last chance for change,” Nick Clegg said at his party’s early morning press conference.

“If we do not act now to dramatically curb our carbon emissions, there is a strong chance it will be too late.

“We must act now. And this is an opportunity to breathe life into the forgotten heartlands of Britain that Labour left behind.”

Under today’s policy announcement, money would be allocated to renovate and adapt facilities at seven North Sea and Irish Sea ports, allowing them to construct offshore wind turbines.

An ‘eco-cashback’ scheme would give people £400 towards energy efficiency home improvements.

And young people would benefit from an increase in the number of further education places, with the establishment of an internship scheme for up to 800,000 18- to 24-year-olds.

The Lib Dems proposed the establishment of a UK Infrastructure Bank – a major policy found in Alistair Darling’s pre-election Budget. Mr Clegg said the idea for a ‘green bank’ had been “first set out by [Lib Dem Treasury spokesman] Vince Cable”.

Further major policy announcements are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, before the second leaders’ debate – on foreign affairs – takes place on Thursday evening.