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2015 General Election – Rural Issues

We’ve all listened to the speeches and read the interviews and many of you may already have made your mind up. However, if you’re still undecided and wondering how the outcome of the General Election may affect you and rural issues close to your heart, we have considered each manifesto of the main parties and produced a brief summary of how the parties stand on these important issues.

Please note that the policies set out in the manifestos have been summarised for the purposes of this article and do not intend to reflect or indicate support for candidates standing for election in the 2015 General Election.

Conservatives

 

Rural Areas, Farming and Wildlife

  • Less red tape
  • Tackle bovine TB
  • Streamline farm inspections through one task force
  • Grow, buy and sell more British food
  • Increase apprenticeships to 3 million
  • Increase planting of new trees in public forests
  • Secure the future of more rural post offices
  • Superfast broadband to 95% of UK by 2017
  • Invest £100 billion in infrastructure, improving roads and railway connections in the South-West, North and East Anglia
  • Protection of marine habitats
  • Support of country sports
  • Free vote on hunting
  • £3billion of CAP payments should be spent to deliver a better countryside for people and wildlife
  • Build 1400 new flood defence schemes

Green Issues

  • Commit £1 billion to carbon capture and storage
  • Sovereign Wealth Fund to develop shale gas in North
  • End public subsidies on onshore wind farms; allow locals final say on planning applications
  • Spend £300 million mitigating damage—such as light pollution—from new roads and make good biodiversity losses from HS2

Small Businesses

  • Major review of business rates by end of the year
  • Address aggressive, prohibitive parking enforcement
  • Actively encourage more tourists to leave London for other areas through Visit Britain

Planning

  • Local people to have more of a say and control over planning issues
  • Ensure that the Green Belt is protected so it remains the same size
  • Councils to allocate land to locals under Right to Build

Labour

 

Rural Areas, Farming and Wildlife

  • Reform CAP to reduce waste and inefficiency
  • Pass English Devolution Act to give powers to shires
  • Freeze rail fares in 2016 to aid commuters
  • ‘Mansion tax’ on properties worth more than £2 million
  • Create Food, Farm and Fisheries sector to create jobs and apprenticeships and promote British foods
  • Abolish badger culls
  • Forests remain in public ownership
  • Increase protection of dogs and cats
  • Bus routes and fares to be decided locally
  • Address wildlife crime associated with shooting
  • Support the Natural Capital Committee to improve habitat and green spaces

Small Businesses

  • Help small and medium-sized enterprises access the finance they need to invest and grow
  • Create British Investment Bank with regional network
  • Ban zero-hour contracts and increase minimum wage to £8
  • Freeze business rates and energy bills for small rural enterprises

Green Issues

  • Create one million high-tech Green jobs by 2025
  • Insulate five million homes over 10 years
  • Strengthen Green Investment Bank through borrowing
  • Prioritise flood prevention
  • Introduce climate-change adaption plan
  • Bring off-grid energy under the regulator
  • Set legal target for decarbonising electricity by 2030

Planning

  • Commit to build a new raft of Garden Cities
  • Encourage and promote access to green spaces in local planning
  • Give communities more say on new housing

Liberal Democrats

 

Rural Areas, Farming and Wildlife

  • Continue TB badger cull only if pilot proven to work
  • Bus fares to be decided locally
  • Increase expenditure per head on cycling
  • Intercity cycle way along HS2 route
  • New National Nature Parks to protect one million acres
  • New, non-political body to manage national forests
  • Complete coastal path; enhance Right to Roam
  • Fund to save post offices, GPs and libraries
  • Legal protection for bumblebee nests
  • Shift CAP payments to active farmer, not landowner
  • Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure fair dairy prices
  • Work at EU level on clear labelling of meat and dairy
  • Develop Animal Disease Strategy; invest in bovine TB vaccines
  • Tackle wildlife crime with increased enforcement
  • Designate marine protection areas by 2020
  • Improve enforcement of EU Directives on birds

Green Issues

  • Pass Nature Act to set natural capital targets
  • End coal; promote wind farms, allow nuclear power
  • Increase accessible green space
  • Review governance of flood risk and drainage
  • Research back-to-nature flood prevention
  • Help land managers adapt to climate change
  • Low-emission zones in towns
  • Promote and research low-emission vehicles
  • National resilience plan to adapt to global warming
  • Increase recycling up to 70%

Small Businesses

  • Prioritise medium and small enterprises for business tax cuts
  • Create more than two million new apprenticeships
  • Promote Green products and sustainable design

Planning

  • Allow community right of appeal where planning decisions go against a local plan
  • Build in excess of 10 Garden Cities
  • Encourage development which is plan led

UKIP

 

Rural Areas, Farming and Wildlife

  • Add rare-breed saving to stewardship schemes
  • End EID for sheep
  • No crop rotation restrictions
  • Replace CAP with Single Farm Payment, CAP at £120k
  • Support research into GMOs and a free vote on cultivation
  • Support dairy farmers by requiring the Competition Commission to promote fair practice in the food chain, in addition to considering price and competition issues
  • Match-fund grants made by local authorities towards rural capital projects, such as creating a lake, wetland, repairing traditional stone walls, etc. which enhance the local environment, encourage rural education
  • Food labelling to come back under the control of the
  • Westminster Parliament when we leave the EU.
  • Regain control of animal health and welfare by leaving the EU
  • End slaughter of dolphins by banning pair-trawler bass fishing
  • Oppose EU threats to sea angling
  • Mandatory CCTV in abattoirs
  • Free vote on GM cultivation

Green Issues

  • Repeal Climate Change Act
  • Begin fracking
  • Scrap Green taxes and leave EU Emissions Trading System to reduce fuel bills
  • No new subsidies for wind or solar farms; maintain those for hydro

Small Businesses

  • Change Small Business Rate Relief
  • No VAT on listed building repairs
  • 30 minutes’ free parking in town centres

Planning

  • Introduce new guidelines that prioritise brownfield sites
  • Defend the Green Belt
  • Introduce local referendum on major planning decisions
  • Promote 6 – 12 unit developments in rural areas

Green Party

 

Rural Areas, Farming and Wildlife

  • Reform the CAP and agri-environment schemes to include water management and promote biodiversity
  • Stop the badger cull
  • Reform agri-environment schemes to include water management
  • Ban cloning
  • Dramatically reduce pesticide use
  • Mandatory CCTV in abattoirs
  • Moratorium on GM products
  • Make bees a priority species
  • Ban shooting, especially grouse
  • Ban snares
  • Increase protected land
  • Railways under public ownership
  • Create Forests Protection Bill
  • Introduce Land Value Tax
  • Repeal National Planning Policy
  • Speed limits of 20mph in villages
  • Review racing and ban the whip
  • Ban electric collars on dogs
  • Reduce VAT on home renovation

Green Issues

  • Invest £85 billion in renewable energy, flood defences and insulation
  • Extra £1 billion on flood defences
  • Invest in creation of one million jobs
  • Cheaper public transport; encourage cycling and walking
  • Land-management strategy for capturing carbon, such as peatlands
  • End coal and nuclear; ban fracking

Small Businesses

  • Reduce employers’ National Insurance contribution
  • Encourage small, local firms

Planning

  • Remove the presumption in favour of development and remove National Planning Policy Framework
  • Introduce a community right of appeal
  • Planners to map ecology networks

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