Lewes MP Norman Baker hits back over Greenpeace banner protest

13.05.2013 Lewes, UK. Greenpeace climbers hang a banner in Lewes High Street, Transport Minister Norman Baker's constituency. The banner says "Norman Baker MP is blocking car laws that would save you money and protect the environment". Greenpeace activists are handing out leaflets to the public explaining how Norman Baker could improve air quality and save them �400 a year.'photo �Dan Giannopoulos/Greenpeace
13.05.2013 Lewes, UK. Greenpeace climbers hang a banner in Lewes High Street, Transport Minister Norman Baker's constituency. The banner says "Norman Baker MP is blocking car laws that would save you money and protect the environment". Greenpeace activists are handing out leaflets to the public explaining how Norman Baker could improve air quality and save them �400 a year.'photo �Dan Giannopoulos/Greenpeace
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Greenpeace activists scaled a five-storey building in the heart of Lewes on Monday morning, unfurling a huge advertising banner demanding local MP Norman Baker takes action to limit carbon emissions.

The campaign group has criticised the Transport Minister for “blocking new legislation to reduce carbon emissions from new cars”.

It claimed it has a leaked briefing in which Mr Baker calls on colleagues to oppose a proposal by fellow Liberal Democrat Fiona Hall MEP to reduce CO2 emissions from all new cars to 70g CO2/km for 2025.

Angry Mr Baker hit back, saying the allegations were both inaccurate and unfair. He said they should be withdrawn by the environmental activists.

Greenpeace campaigner Sara Ayech said: “These documents reveal that there is a split at the heart of the Liberal Democrats over policy to reduce carbon emissions and save motorists money.

“Norman Baker should follow the progressive political lead of Fiona Hall and support laws that will help the environment, whilst putting an average of £400 a year back into the pockets of hard-pressed motorists.”

A large number of Greenpeace activists descended on the town to demand Mr Baker support laws to reduce carbon emissions from new cars.

One group of volunteers scaled the scaffolding-clad premises in Cliffe Precinct to put up the giant banner. At the same time another team of activists were greeting commuters at Lewes Railway Station with leaflets claiming that the Transport Minister could improve the quality of air, reduce carbon emissions and save people cash. The banner was removed later that day.

Mr Baker said: “It is quite wrong of Greenpeace to make unfair and inaccurate allegations of this nature. I am not trying to water down this legislation. On the contrary – as always and as I have throughout my political career, I am trying to get the most sensible result for the environment.

“Greenpeace, in their campaigns, should challenge those who don’t care about the environment, rather than those who do.

“The Department for Transport is working hard to drive down emissions from vehicles, both through these complex negotiations in Europe, and elsewhere. We are rightly focussed on getting the best outcome from the 2020 targets – which is the main point of current negotiations. We are not in principle against setting a tough 2025 target, but to do so now risks setting industry an overly generous target. Greenpeace should withdraw these allegations.”