Arundel and South Downs candidates grilled on environmental issues

Ten-year-old Robin Boyle asks a question at Steyning Grammar School's election debate
Ten-year-old Robin Boyle asks a question at Steyning Grammar School's election debate

Candidates for the Arundel and South Downs parliamentary seat were grilled on environmental issues in a Question Time-style debate on Tuesday.

In the debate, hosted by the Steyning Greening Campaign, five candidates for the constituency representing the main parties discussed issues including climate change, roads and renewable energy.

Around 300 people, including a horde of first time voters, packed into the school to quiz Peter Grace (UKIP), Nick Herbert (Con), Shweta Kapadia (LDem), Isobel Thurston (Green) and Christopher Wellbelove (Lab).

Mr Grace provoked debate when he criticised the ‘green agenda’.

He said: “UKIP don’t have the environment as number one because we don’t believe the green agenda.

“The warmest decade was 1930 and if you go back through history all the data indicates a thousand years ago the Medieval period was warmer than that.

“There are a number of things on the green agenda that we feel are incorrect. UKIP feels this is not a proven theory.”

Ms Thurston said: “The Green Party have been the party to keep the environment on the agenda, we are doing our best to make sure that has the same prominence.

“We feel the environment is the most important thing facing us. I don’t think we should waste time discussing whether global warming is real - we know it is.”

Mr Wellbelove said: “The effects of immigration have been exaggerated and the benefits of immigration haven’t been talked about enough.

“I have lots of friends who are first generation immigrants who contribute to society, and I am sure their sons and daughters will as well.

“We can’t wait for UKIP to wake up to climate change.”

Ms Kapadia said: “It has suited some parties to focus on that (immigration) because maybe the other issues like the environment they have very little to say.

“The Liberal Democrats have put the climate change agenda on the very front of the manifesto.”

Mr Herbert said: “I think one of the reasons why environmental issues are not at the forefront of the election campaign is that, probably with the exception of UKIP, there is quite a large measure of agreement between the major parties.”

The debate was chaired by town resident Robin Hart and the candidates did not know what would be asked.