Electoral candidates debated important issues for the district at Mid Sussex General Election Hustings on Tuesday.
Organised by Friends of the Earth, the event held at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, began with candidates introducing themselves and explaining their position on environmental issues.
Independent candidate Beki Adam spoke of the ‘twisting of truth’ and ‘cover up that occurred in the coalition government’.
She spoke passionately of her opposition to fracking as a reason to apply, to fight a ‘government powered through corporate interest’ which she said is ‘deeply concerning’.
The independent candidate is against developments such as Mayfields, which she described as ‘disrespectful of the environment’.
Her vision is of developments which ‘fit in with the environment’ and have a ‘low impact’.
UKIP candidate Toby Brothers claimed the ‘greatest importance to protect the environment’ is dealing with the population.
He added Mid Sussex must identify more brown land first for building, whilst protecting green land and species, and encourage cycling, better health and tree planting.
“Large scale developments should be stopped in Mid Sussex,” he added.
Mr Brothers said without a cap on immigration, prevented by EU membership, ‘there are an awful lot of problems’.
Liberal Democrat candidate Daisy Cooper spoke of the success of her party, which she said ‘fights’ against Conservative leadership despite only having eight percent of MPs.
She takes pride in the Green Investment Bank, the number of trees planted and a ‘quarter of a million green jobs’ which she said the Lib Dems are to thank for.
She highlighted the party’s five green laws in its manifesto, which aims for a ‘zero carbon Britain by 2050’.
“We want to plant at least a tree for every child that is born,” she added.
Green Party candidate Miranda Diboll explained how potential fracking in Balcombe was a ‘gateway’ to politics for her.
“I wasn’t interested at all in politics, I felt completely powerless,” she explained.
After travelling past the proposed fracking site, she looked into what was planned.
“I was horrified to see what was going on, especially in this beautiful area just down the road from where I live,” she said.
The Green candidate said her focus as MP would be to combat climate change.
“Without combating it there will be no economy,” she said.
She is in line with her party’s politics of equality, social justice and true democracy as ‘first past the post is not representative of everyone’s views’.
“The countryside is the heartbeat of Mid Sussex. If you put fracking here you would rip that heart beat out,” she added.
Labour Party candidate Greg Mountain said his focus is on a balance between demands of society and the environment.
“More than anything we need to be the generation that leaves the natural environment in a better place,” he said.
Mr Mountain said he would try to help combat global warming, high air pollution and threats of flooding.
He spoke of his concern at the loss of birds and wildlife, and pollution.
“We need to improve planning, and get a district plan,” he said.
“Labour plans more power to local communities.’
The Labour MP hopes for a flood free future.
“Stop building homes where they are at risk of flooding,” he added.
Conservative candidate Sir Nicholas Soames, said: “The biggest local issue is planning. We do need more housing here.”
He spoke of a balancing act to ‘protect beautiful Mid Sussex countryside’ and deal with ‘huge pressure on our infrastructure’.
“I worry that many young people find it most impossible to get their foot on the property ladder,” he said.
Sir Nicholas is a ‘strong supporter of local planning’ and ‘strongly opposed to major developments such as Mayfields’.
He would focus on schools and the health service, and is ‘strongly opposed to the second runway for Gatwick’ which would be ‘nothing short of a catastrophe for the environment’.
Monster Raving Loony Party candidate Baron Von Thunderclap spoke of his ‘disgust’ at litter in Mid Sussex.
He said local authority should have ‘power to enforce’ penalties on those responsible.
He explained he would prevent development in green fields, and is ‘all for cycling’.
Mr Von Thunderclap is opposed to scrapping old cars, as the scheme is bad for the environment. “There’s no way I’m going to win this seat so I can say what I want. I’m in no position to do anything about it,” he said.
“I do think green issues should be treated with antibodies and antiseptics until they clear up.”
Candidates went on to debate the merit of installing solar panels on schools across the country.
Mr Brothers said it may seem like a solution, but fears it would be funded by taxes, and claims using insulation could be a sensible energy saving alternative.
Lib Dem Daisy Cooper said she is for the scheme, and would extend it to ‘all other public buildings’.
Green candidate Miranda Diboll said it is a ‘fantastic idea’ which would teach children about renewable energy, and she would be in favour of scrapping trident to fund further renewable energy projects.
Greg Mountain said ‘run on the sun is a great idea’, and would be in line with a Labour plan of 75% renewable energy by 2020.
He said that though funding issues need to be resolved, ‘All new builds should have solar panels fitted to the homes’.
Sir Nicholas said while it is a ‘sensible plan’, ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’.
He is in favour of a mixture of nuclear, renewable and gas energy.
Baron Von Thunderclap is in favour of solar power, and wants roof tiles on new homes to be combined with solar panels.
Beki Adam said renewable energy by 2030 should be possible with the right leadership, which is ‘appalling’.
“The cost of fracking is much more, it doesn’t make sense economically as well as environmentally,” she added.
All candidates are opposed to fracking in Mid Sussex, but Sir Nicholas is in favour in other parts of the country, such as Sheffield.
Toby Brothers and Daisy Cooper believe fracking may be necessary elsewhere, with the latter saying it is needed to lower carbon emissions.
Beki Adam said fracking would ‘leave a generation to come with something that, if it’s not maintained, will leak methane’. Baron Von Thunderclap said he has ‘not enough information to make a sensible judgement’.
All candidates opposed a second runway at Gatwick due to the impact on infrastructure and environment.
Candidates all spoke of the ‘ludicrous’ and ‘inexcusable’ state of the rail service, which they vowed to fight to improve. Miranda Diboll and Beki Adam both stated their desire for railway services to be nationalised.