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What are the political parties' policies on National Parks?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 12:22

Ruth Bradshaw, Policy and Research Manager, Campaign for National Parks below provides an informative overview of relevant policies in each of these, highlighting any mentions of National Parks, biodiversity and related issues.

This is not intended to be comprehensive and there is more detail on all the policies of all the parties here

Conservative Party Manifesto “Our plan is to conserve and enhance our natural environment so that this remains the most beautiful country in the world.”

Commitment to maintaining national protections for AONBs and National Parks (p54) and to putting in place 'stronger protections for our natural landscapes' [although don’t say anything about what those stronger protections would be.]

Other commitments of relevance include:

  • building new roads and railways in a way that limits, as far as possible, their impact on the environment, including investing £300m in cutting light pollution, doing more tunnelling, building better noise barriers and helping to restore lost habitat (p55);
  • working with the Natural Capital Committee to develop a 25 Year Plan to restore the UK’s biodiversity, and to ensure that both public and private investment in the environment is directed where we need it most(p55);
  • letting local people have more say on local planning and letting them vote on local issues (p69);
  • ending public subsidy for onshore windfarms and changing the law to give local people more say on windfarm applications (p57);
  • ensuring that our public forests and woodland are kept in trust for the nation and planting another 11 million trees (p 54);
  • setting out a long-term vision for the future of British farming, working with industry to develop a 25 year plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food (p21).


Labour Party Manifesto “We feel passionately about our local landscapes, our open spaces and wildlife.”

No specific mention of National Parks. Relevant commitments include:

  • keeping our forests in public ownership, and promoting access to green spaces in local planning (p56);
  • supporting the work of the Natural Capital Committee to protect and improve wildlife habitats and green spaces, and making them an important part of our thriving tourism industry (p56);
  • health reforms will focus on prevention and early intervention (p34);
  • setting a new national ambition to improve the uptake of physical activity (p35).


Liberal Democrat Manifesto “the only major party that takes seriously the responsibility of protecting our natural environment”

The only mention of National Parks is in relation to the Lib Dems taking credit for getting the ban on fracking in NPs (p33). They have got quite a lot more generally on the environment (starts p80). Relevant commitments include:

  • Ensuring that improving the natural environment becomes a core commitment of every government department and agency;
  • Passing a Nature Act with targets on biodiversity, clean air and water;
  • Improving EU enforcement of the EU Habitats and Birds Directive;
  • Introducing a National Food Strategy to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food;
  • Setting up a commission to research back-to-nature flood prevention schemes, including the use of habitats such as upland bogs and moors, woodlands, wetlands etc;
  • Passing a Green Transport Act;
  • Updating planning law to introduce the concept of ‘landscape scale planning’ and ensure new developments promote walking, cycling, car sharing and public transport and improve rather than diminish access to green spaces (p97);
  • publishing a national wellbeing strategy, which puts better health and wellbeing for all at the heart of government policy. This will cover all aspects of government policy, including transport, access to nature, and housing, at national and local level (p71).


Green Party Manifesto

Includes a commitment to protect, expand, properly fund and improve non-car access to our National Parks (p13) which supports one of the key asks in our manifesto. This is part of a 'new legal framework for the protection of landscape and wildlife' which also includes increasing the amount of land covered by the Birds and Habitats Directive, prohibiting biodiversity offsetting and repealing the NPPF particularly its presumption in favour of development. Not surprisingly there are also a lot of other ‘environmentally-friendly’ policies.


UKIP Manifesto

No mention of National Parks. Section on ‘Protecting our Countryside’ (p35) includes a commitment to replacing the NPPF and introducing fresh national planning guidelines that will prioritise brownfield sites for new housing and genuinely protect the green belt. Section on ‘Caring for the Environment’ (p47) includes a commitment to 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, or help recovery from environmental disasters’. They will abolish ‘excessive and unnecessary’ [EU] regulations and directives but keep those necessary to protect our environment, or replace them with more appropriate controls, administered at national or local government level.

Other relevant commitments include:

  • Relaxing planning regulations for the conversion of ‘off-high road’ commercial and office space and other existing buildings to affordable residential use(p33);
  • Ensuring tax and planning policies support historic buildings and the countryside (p51);
  • Introducing a ‘presumption in favour of conservation’ as opposed to the current ‘presumption in favour of development’ in planning legislation (p51);
  • Giving local people control over planning, by giving them the final say on major planning decisions, such as out-of-town large-scale supermarket developments, wind turbines, incinerators, solar farms and major housing developments, through the use of binding local referenda (p59).


Plaid Cymru Manifesto

Opposes the use of pylons to carry energy through National Parks and Areas of National Beauty, and supports the use of underground and undersea cables technology to carry electricity, where possible.


Photo © Captain Roger Fenton

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