Green issues must be addressed

Trade leaders have urged the wine industry to do more to drive the “green agenda” forward before it is forced to do so by the government or EU.

Speaking at the WSTA conference in London on Wednesday (September 16), Direct Wines chief executive Simon McMurtrie said: “I’m terrified by the green agenda. I’ve got an awful feeling that whatever colour government comes in they’re going to seek legislation around this, or if they don’t the EU will.

“I don’t think the wine industry has woken up yet to the fact that this is a reality. [We must] start addressing that in the next few years before someone forces us to.”

He added that the cost of transporting wine around the world and glass recycling are two of the major areas that the wine industry falls down on.

But WSTA chief executive Jeremy Beadles maintained that the trade has been proactive in improving its environmental credentials through its work on producing lighter weight bottles and increasing bulk wine shipments. “I think we have made quite impressive progress,” he said.

He added that green issues must be part of a “global agenda” with wine industries from around the world working together to “come up with one methodology”. “The next step is getting the global movement going,” he said.

Shadow health minister Mike Penning MP was among the speakers at the annual conference. He accused the Labour government of making “some knee jerk reactions to the problem of alcohol abuse” and pledged to repeal 24-hour drinking laws if the Conservatives get into power.

Penning added that the Tories are against an alcohol advertising ban and minimum pricing. “Our view is not to destroy the good work of the industry. We want to work with you for the good of the country and your business,” he said.

Other Conservative policies include introducing legislation to prevent proxy purchasing of alcohol and greater education for parents on the dangers of under-age binge drinking, Penning told delegates.