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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
Meacher criticises UK's green policies
Michael Meacher
Meacher: "Lone voice in the wilderness"
The environment minister Michael Meacher, who was reportedly left off the official team going to the Earth Summit, says the government has failed to take difficult decisions on green issues.

Mr Meacher, who was only reinstated to the British group last week, said he was a "lone voice in the wilderness" when it came to the environment.

Meanwhile, green groups are in uproar at the inclusion in the UK summit team of heads of businesses which have been accused of polluting the atmosphere.


I don't think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of decisions I think are necessary

Michael Meacher

They include Sir Robert Wilson, executive chairman of mining company Rio-Tinto, which is in the middle of Australia's highest profile environmental row, reports the Observer.

In an interview in the Sunday Times, Mr Meacher accused his fellow ministers of being unable to see the enormity of the crisis facing the environment.

"I make no bones about it. I don't think the government as a whole is yet ready to take the magnitude of decisions I think are necessary," he told The Times.

Kent airport

He indicated the sort of direction that he wanted to take policy by pointing to a little publicised European initiative to ban big engine cars from city centres.

He also expressed deep reservations about a new airport planned for wildlife haven Cliffe in north Kent.

"If you build an airport in the Kent marshes there are going to be huge environmental consequences," he told the paper.

It was reported last week that he had been dropped from the team going to the eco-summit in Johannesburg and then hastily reinstated after green groups complained he was the one member of the government who understood the green agenda.

Pollution record

The Observer claims among the other British guests are Bill Alexander, chief executive of Thames Water, and Chris Fay, non-executive director of Anglo American, a leading mining company.

Thames Water has been prosecuted by the Environment Agency for pollution more than 20 times since 1996.

Anglo American, meanwhile, has been accused of pollution in Zambia.

A Thames Water spokesman told the paper: "We are committed to sustainability."

And a spokesman for Anglo American said: "We take our environmental performance extremely seriously."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Shaun Ley
"Mr Meacher is clearly frustrated at the pace of change"
Friends of the Earth Director Charles Secrett
"Mr Meacher is speaking a truth the government would do well to listen to"
See also:

30 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
15 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
08 Aug 02 | Politics
06 Aug 02 | Politics
09 Aug 02 | Politics

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