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.