Tory Manifesto commitments on the environment and farming: is this the end of direct farm subsidies?

 

The Tory Manifesto has been published and you can read it here.

 

 

“we are committed to grow more, sell more and export more great food.”

Does this mean food that isn’t regarded as great will not be grown?

There is a commitment to continue paying out the same amount for farm support (around £3billion a year at present) “until the end of the Parliament”. This extends previous commitments to support basic payments and rural development payments beyond the current commitment of 2020, to 2022 (assuming a full 5 year parliament).

While there is no commitment to continue with a basic payment scheme beyond 2022, the Manifesto commits the Government to “work with farmers, food producers and environmental experts across Britain (not Northern Ireland?)

“to devise a new Agri-Environment Scheme”, to be introduced after 2022.

Natural England gets a specific mention (is this the first manifesto where NE gets a name check?) and it will “expand the provision of technical expertise to farmers to deliver environmental improvements on a landscape scale”. Apparently this involves “enriching soil fertility”, “planting hedgerows” and “building dry stone walls”. Nothing about nature, wildlife, species or habitats though.

Natural Flood Management also gets an explicit mention – “improving the quality of water courses to protect against soil erosion and damage to vulnerable habitats and communities”.

This doesnt exactly sound like Natural Flood Management to me – but there is no detail.

The Forestry Commission will be retained (and the Public Forest), along with a commitment to “stronger protection” for our ancient woodland.

On animal welfare – there is a commitment to introduce mandatory CCTV into slaughterhouses, not before time.

And of course, the already trailed commitment to a free vote on repealing the ban on hunting. Interestingly, there is no mention of the badger cull though.

There is a promise to publish the long-delayed 25 year plan. Let’s hope that after the election this will be revisited, as the version I saw was rubbish.

On Housing, the Manifesto recognises that poor quality housing development (including lack of public open space) affects people’s quality of life.

 

But then makes no proposal to address this

 

Then they go on to commit to building 160,000 houses on “Government owned land.” Presumably this still includes the 5000 planned for Lodge Hill in Kent.

The only other bit I want to mention now is the Great Repeal Bill. There doesnt appear to be anything new here, from what we already know  – though there is a commitment to increase the devolution of decision-making powers, at least for some things. Equally it’s possible that the devolved powers over things like Agriculture could be reversed, but there doesnt appear to be any detail on that.

 

 

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About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in 2017 general election and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tory Manifesto commitments on the environment and farming: is this the end of direct farm subsidies?

  1. David Dunlop says:

    “When we leave the European Union and its Common Fisheries Policy, we will be fully
    responsible for the access and management of the waters where we have historically
    exercised sovereign control. A new Conservative government will work with the
    fishing industry and with our world-class marine scientists, as well as the devolved
    administrations, to introduce a new regime for commercial fishing that will preserve and
    increase fish stocks and help to ensure prosperity for a new generation of fishermen. To
    provide complete legal certainty to our neighbours and clarity during our negotiations
    with the European Union, we will withdraw from the London Fisheries Convention. We
    will continue our work to conserve the marine environment off the coast of the United
    Kingdom.”

    The Devil will be in the detail there. Rising to your “Northern Ireland” bait (you know I struggle to resist!), that last sentence IS a geographical improvement on the Labour manifesto, which reads,

    “We will safeguard habitats and species in the ‘blue belts’ of the seas and oceans surrounding our island [sic]”, without specifying which island that may be. Labour represented the Isle of Dogs in the previous Parliament, but its been a while since it represented Na h-Eileanan an Iar and over 100 years since it contested elections in Northern Ireland, not that I’ve been counting…

    The manifesto is silent on bovine tuberculosis, I think?

  2. Sue Redshaw says:

    Thanks, Miles, for your hard work in trawling through all the detail and pulling out the bits we’re interested in.

  3. Tim Dixon says:

    Quite how “enriching soil fertility” will “deliver environmental improvements on a landscape scale” escapes me completely as it will do exactly the opposite. Yet another example of the ecological illiteracy that sits at the heart of DEFRA nowadays.

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Tim.

      Yes I also had a head scratching moment when I read that. I wondered if they meant soil health but this got mangled into soil fertility?

      • David Dunlop says:

        I’m hoping it’s that, whilst fearing that it’s because open landscapes are thought to be prettier if they are greener in colour: that bit of the manifesto seems to be about landscape aesthetics rather than landscape-scale nature conservation, given that hedgerows and drystone walls are the only other features mentioned.

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