THE future of the planet was in the spotlight at an election debate.

Candidates for Labour, the Green Party and Lib Dems took part in the hustings at New College.

But Conservatives Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson’s seats were empty during the two-hour event.

Green Party candidate Andy Bentley started the debate by answering what he would do about climate change.

He said: “For many on the right, we’re a bunch of unwashed tree-hugging hippies. But I’m an IT consultant with a degree in engineering.

“What I do believe in is the science, evidence and research. Our Green new deal isn’t some wild invention of a few sandal-wearing yurt dwellers. It’s what the science is now saying we need to do and I’d work to make that a reality.

“When your house is on fire you don’t go for what is affordable, you go for what is necessary.”

Labour's South Swindon candidate Sarah Church spoke on whether her party would include climate change in education. She said: “One of the things we look forward to in our manifesto is the 320,000 climate apprenticeships with a view to expand that to 800,000 by the end of a 10-year period.

“The jobs of the future and the education that goes into that is absolutely here. To understand how everybody is apart of that and creating the solutions is important.”

On the topic of growing more trees and waste management, Liberal Democrat candidate Katie Critchlow said: “I used to work for M&S and I brought in a zero-waste policy, which included charging for carrier bags. It took the government eight years even though we proved it was incredibly successful.

“We’ve known about these problems for years and now the solutions exist.

Kate Linnegar is the Labour candidate for North Swindon and has been tackling climate change for over a decade.

She said: “I tried to join a Greenpeace group in Swindon but there wasn’t one, so I started my own. I was a member of the Green Party before I joined Labour and I’m pleased it has finally stepped up to the challenge with our green industrial revolution. We need to act immediately.

“It’s an issue bigger than political parties and we have to work across party and around the world together.”