Conservatives will build on food, farming and nature achievements

The Conservative Party manifesto was released by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on Tues 11th June. We have outlined the key food, farming and nature policies below.

The Conservatives say, “Our food and farming sectors generate over £120 billion for the UK economy every year. In the last Parliament, we maintained the farming budget to support our food security. In England, this has supported farmers with a range of options to choose what works best for them, from business advice to new equipment, soil and nutrient management and hedgerow planting.”

New policies:

  • Increase the UK-wide farming budget by £1 billion over the Parliament, ensuring it rises by inflation in every year.
  • Continue to ringfence agricultural funding so it is passed directly on to farming and rural communities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland alongside a new UK-wide £20 million Farming Innovation Fund.
  • Introduce a legally binding target to enhance our food security. The target will apply UK-wide alongside our UK Food Security Index, the first of its kind, helping us to determine where best to concentrate farming funds. This will also feed into the development of the Land Use Framework.
  • Improve public sector procurement to deliver our goal that at least 50% of food expenditure is spent on food produced locally or to higher environmental production standards.
  • Reform our planning system to deliver fast track permissions for the building of infrastructure on farms, such as glasshouses, slurry and grain stores, and small-scale reservoirs.
  • Use our significant investment in R&D to prioritise cutting-edge technology in areas such as fertiliser and vertical farming.
  • Stick to our plan to support the agricultural sector with the labour it needs to maintain our food security, while moving away from the reliance on seasonal migrant labour with a five-year visa tapered scheme, alongside clear investment in automation and promoting agri-food careers and skills.
  • Always stand up for farmers when negotiating new trade deals.

Rural life
The manifesto says, “Conservatives are committed to nurturing a thriving rural economy. Rural areas already contribute over £250 billion to the economy. We will build on this, supporting jobs, growth and education in rural communities.”

The manifesto boasts that 80% of properties across can now access high-speed broadband, up from just 7% in 2019. The party says it will invest in new technology to achieve ambitious broadband targets for hard-to-reach areas.

The Conservatives will maintain the £2 bus fare cap and do more to boost the availability of affordable housing for local people in rural areas.

They say, “In recent years we have seen increasingly extreme wet weather, underlining the importance of building flood resilience. In 2020, we announced a doubling of capital funding into flood defences in England to a record £5.6 billion over 2021-2027. We will maintain this record flooding funding to continue to protect homes, farms and businesses.

We will deliver a secure future for communities by giving more people a better chance of living where they would like – near their family, friends and job. We have delivered over 2.5 million homes since 2010, including meeting our commitment to deliver one million homes in the last Parliament. We will deliver 1.6 million homes in England in the next Parliament.

New policies include:

  • Abolishing the legacy EU ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules to immediately unlock the building of 100,000 new homes with local consent, with developers required in law to pay a one-off mitigation fee so there is no net additional pollution.
  • Delivering a record number of homes each year on brownfield land in urban areas.
  • Unlocking new urban regeneration schemes
  • Making sure local authorities use the new Infrastructure Levy to deliver the GP surgeries, roads and other local infrastructure needed to support homes.
  • Renewing the Affordable Homes Programme
  • Retaining our cast-iron commitment to protect the Green Belt from uncontrolled development, while ensuring more homes get built where it makes sense, like in inner cities

Protecting our environment
The Conservatives say, “Our beautiful countryside, coastline, woods and rivers are a crucial part of what makes our country so special. We are committed to leaving the environment in a better state for future generations. We introduced our landmark Environment Act including ambitious targets to halt nature’s decline by 2030 and Biodiversity Net Gain, a world leading scheme to deliver greener new development.

New policies include:

  • Working with the regulator to further hold companies to account, including banning executive bonuses if a company has committed a serious criminal breach. This will build on our legislation for unlimited fines.
  • Using fines from water companies to invest in river restoration projects, including linking up thriving habitats to multiply the benefits for wildlife and water quality. This will create a river recovery network, modelled on our nature recovery network, and create new destinations for people to enjoy across England. It will take a more local, tailored approach like the plan for the River Wye.
  • Deliver our tree planting and peatland commitments through our Nature for Climate funding, and continuing our work to unlock private investment.
  • Launch a new design competition for urban greening, focused on the new quarters we want to develop in Leeds, Cambridge and sites in inner London.
  • Cut red tape that holds back the planting of trees in the planning system. This will identify particularly suitable areas for tree planting where processes and permits will be streamlined.
  • Deliver our commitment at COP28 to introduce forest risk commodities legislation early in the next Parliament, tackling our impact on illegal deforestation internationally.
  • Designate our 11th National Park alongside investing to improve existing National Parks and protected landscapes.
  • Use future rounds of our Landscape Recovery Scheme to support more local projects.
  • Continue to work with landowners, charities and others to open up more ‘access to nature’ routes. We will not impose a universal Right to Roam.
  • We will take comprehensive action to crack down on organised waste crime, especially those who impact protected nature sites.
  • We will deliver our enhanced penalties for fly tipping, giving councils new tools to help tackle offenders.

Read the Conservative Party 2024 general election manifesto

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