A BRIGHTON MP has called on the Prime Minister to stop plastic waste being sent from the UK to developing countries.

Caroline Lucas accused the government of reneging on environmental pledges made in their election manifesto.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions today, she called for the "damaging and unethical practice" to stop.

She said it followed "hot on the heels" of planning permission being granted for the UK's first new deep coalmine in 30 years.

Ms Lucas said: "There is a yawning gulf between the government's green rhetoric and its action.

"Ministers have broken yet another election manifesto promise and will keep sending plastic waste to developing countries where it is regularly dumped or burned."

Ms Lucas referenced a petition started by a 9-year-old under the name Lizzie A, which has now been signed more than 90,400 times.

She said: "Nine-year-old schoolgirl Lizzie knows this is wrong and she has a simple message for the Prime Minister, 'Protect our oceans and people living in poorer countries by banning these dirty plastic exports now'.

"Will he listen to Lizzie and the 90,000 signatures to her petition, and stop this damaging and unethical practice? Yes or no?"

The petition says: "The UK currently is the second largest exporter of plastic waste to poorer countries. Since we have exited the EU, we no longer are bound by their rules. They have banned export of plastic waste from January 1, 2021, however the UK hasn’t. This isn’t okay - please join me in doing something about it."

Mr Johnson said he "must absolutely contest and deny" Ms Lucas's comments in the House of Commons regarding the Tory party's green credentials.

He said: "She talks about coal mines and she may not know that in 1970 this country got 90 per cent of its energy from fossil fuels from coal and we now get five per cent.

"That is thanks to the green, active, technologically optimistic policies driven by Conservative government, and I'm very proud of that.

"I'm also proud of what we are doing to ban plastic and ban the export of plastic waste around the world, which is in our Conservative party manifesto, Mr Speaker, which we will fulfil."

Ms Lucas has since responded on social media, saying "the only way the PM can be 'proud' of what is in his manifesto on banning plastic waste is if he acts on it".

"The EU has already done it, and we were promised better," she said.

The Green MP later told The Argus: "First, successfully reducing dependence on coal over the past 50 years is no reason for now giving go-ahead to first deep coal mine in 30 years and second, while I'm pleased to hear he plans to stand by the Conservative manifesto commitment to ban the export of plastic waste, the key question is when?"

In October last year, planning permission was granted for the UK's first new deep coalmine in 30 years.

The site, named Woodhouse Colliery, is set to be built in Cumbria despite the protests of climate campaigners from groups such as Extinctions Rebellion.

West Cumbria Mining (WCM) plans to mine under the seabed to extract about 2.7m tonnes of metallurgical coal annually, focusing on supplying UK and European steel-making plants.

Following the granting of planning permission for the site, WCM chief executive Mark Kirkbride said: "Today marks another very important milestone in our journey to develop a world class mine in Cumbria and is the culmination of six years of dedication and determination by the WCM team to realise our vision.

“Woodhouse Colliery will bring significant local benefits to Whitehaven, Copeland and Cumbria in terms of jobs and investment, at a critical time given the impacts of Covid-19 upon employment

and economics both locally and nationally.

"I am proud to be part of a scheme which will have such a positive impact on the local community as well as the long-term financial benefits the mine will bring to Cumbria and the UK."