Green pressure groups target strategy launch

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The Government's record on sustainable development comes under attack today as senior ministers prepare to unveil a fresh strategy to underpin Tony Blair's commitment to the environment.

Critics claim that recent Whitehall decisions on carbon emissions trading, aviation taxes and road transport cast serious doubt on the Government's willingness to challenge vested industrial interests. "Whenever there is a choice, short-term economic growth is nearly always prioritised over long-term environmental protection - even when the social consequences might be negative too," Tony Juniper, the executive director of Friends of the Earth, said.

The launch of the UK's new sustainable development strategy today will be accompanied by two hours of speeches by ministers. However, environmental groups fear the strategy will be short on firm targets. Friends of the Earth said it wanted the Government to spell out clearly how the £110bn spent by public bodies each year - generating about 5 to 6 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions - will be harnessed to promote sustainability.

FoE also called on Gordon Brown to drop GDP as the key measure of the economy's success, and replace it with a measure which takes sustainability into account.