Article Types News General election: access & conservation promises from each party

General election: access & conservation promises from each party

News

As the general election date draws nearer, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) have reviewed the manifestos from each party to help you make a more informed choice when it comes to protecting the landscapes and crags that we love to walk in and climb on.

Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer Dr. Cath Flitcroft says, “The BMC work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we protect and enhance the freedoms, rights and responsibilities of climbers and hill walkers.

“Over the past year we have increased our lobbying to influence legislation and policy across England and Wales, with a focus on trying to shape environmental agricultural schemes which are nature friendly and include public access; safeguarding the landscapes we treasure from inappropriate development;  supporting the recent Dartmoor Wild Camping appeal and working with partners to encourage more environmental stewardship through our Green Guides, Respect Series and ongoing Mend Our Mountains projects.

“Importantly, we have been increasing the awareness that access to our beautiful green and blue spaces is not equal. Our Outdoors For All manifesto demonstrates our belief that access rights should be extended to more landscapes, because people with a stronger connection to nature are more likely to behave positively towards the environment.

“The BMC are also increasingly aware of the climate crisis, committing to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 and supporting UK nature-based projects to tackle this issue, in particular through peatland restoration and seagrass planting as part of The Climate Project.

“We have therefore been keen to see how the party manifestos set out details to try and tackle some of these aspects, and have pulled out some key commitments from each of the main political party manifestos.”

A note on Welsh Devolution from Eben Muse, Campaigns and Policy Officer (Wales) - he says “Many of these issues, particularly related to access and the environment, are devolved directly to Wales, meaning that the Welsh Parliament, the Senedd, legislates on these issues, not Westminster. However, the results of the election will have genuine funding implications for Wales. Several parties deal with expanding the powers of the Senedd in their manifestos, and the results on 4 July will affect how the incumbent Welsh Labour Government are able to govern. So, it is important to bear this in mind when it comes to casting a vote if you’re living in Wales.”

Overarching party straplines for the General Election 2024

Change - Labour

For a Fair Deal - Liberal Democrats

For fairness, for ambition, for Wales - Plaid Cymru

Real Hope. Real Change.  - Green Party

We must stick with the plan - Conservatives

Access to Nature

Conservative

  • Set an ambitious commitment for everyone to have access to nature within 15 minutes’ walk of where they live. To deliver this, we will:

  • 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 like the community-led schemes near Hadrian’s Wall as the area recovers from the vandalism at the Sycamore Gap.

  • Deliver our commitments on National Trails including the Coast to Coast Path and the King Charles III England Coast Path.

  • 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.

Liberal Democrats

  • Significantly increasing the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path

  • Explore a ‘right to roam’ for waterways

  • Create a new designation of National Nature Parks

  • Pass a new Environmental Rights Act, recognising everyone’s human right to a healthy environment and guaranteeing access to environmental justice.

Green Party

  • We will introduce a new Right to Roam Act for England, that would enable people to access green space close to where they live and be a first step to resetting our relationship with the natural world.

  • The Right to Roam Act would be accompanied by a renewed and strengthened Countryside Code which clearly sets out rights and responsibilities when accessing nature.

  • This would be based on the model in Scotland and include sensible exceptions, such as fields where crops are growing.

  • Campaign to ensure that everybody lives within 15 minutes’ walking distance of a nature-rich green space.

  • We will ensure car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking, wheeling and bus links.

Labour

  • We will improve access to nature, promote biodiversity, and protect our landscapes and wildlife

  • Labour will create nine new National River Walks, one in each region of England, and establish three new National Forests in England, whilst planting millions of trees and creating new woodlands.

  • Labour will expand nature-rich habitats such as wetlands, peat bogs and forests so families can explore and wildlife can thrive, including on public land

Plaid Cymru

  • Plaid Cymru do not discuss access to nature, access to the countryside, or outdoor recreation other than factoring in the need for green space during the planning for new developments.

Natural Environment & Biodiversity

Conservatives

  • 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.

  • We will deliver our tree planting and peatland commitments through our Nature for Climate funding and continuing our work to unlock private investment.

Liberal Democrats

  • We will hold big companies to account by giving them a duty to protect the environment, including banning water companies from dumping raw sewage into rivers, lakes and coastal areas.

  • Set meaningful and binding targets to stop the decline of our natural environment and ‘double nature’ by 2050: doubling the size of the Protected Area Network, doubling the area of most important wildlife habitats, doubling the abundance of species and doubling woodland cover by 2050.

  • Plant at least 60 million trees a year, helping to restore woodland habitats, increase the use of sustainable wood in construction, and reach net zero.

  • Protecting at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 for nature’s recovery.

  • Ensuring new developments result in significant net gain for biodiversity, with up to a 100% net gain for large developments.

  • Empowering Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify a new Wild Belt for nature’s recovery

  • Ensure that nature-based solutions form a critical part of our strategy to tackle climate change by: Restoring our peatlands as a carbon store and banning the use of horticultural peat and the routine burning of heather on peatlands.

  • Create and restore habitats like saltmarshes, mudflats and seagrass meadows to guard against coastal flooding and erosion and absorb carbon emissions. 

Green Party

  • We will introduce a new Rights of Nature Act giving legal personhood to nature.

  • Set aside 30% of our land and seas by 2030 in which nature will receive the highest priority and protection.

  • Elected Greens would seek to strengthen and prevent any rollback of existing protections of the Green Belt, National Landscapes and Sites of Special Scientific Interest

  • A priority would be the re-wetting of all peatland and increasing unharvested forest and woodland by over 50%

Labour

  • Labour will deliver for nature, taking action to meet our Environment Act targets, and will work in partnership with civil society, communities and business to restore and protect our natural world.

  • Labour will expand nature-rich habitats such as wetlands, peat bogs and forests so families can explore and wildlife can thrive, including on public land.

Plaid Cymru

  • Set higher environmental standards for water quality and lower water prices

  • Large scale energy developments take the landscape into account – e.g. through the use of underground cables.

  • Support science led 2022 Kunming-Montreal agreement to reverse nature-loss.

  • Support the introduction of biodiversity targets by 2030

  • Ensure that Westminster pays towards the clearing of coal tips, without financing via the further extraction of coal

  • Avoid developing green energy infrastructure on key habitats

Culture and Sport

Conservatives

  • We will continue the Multi-Sport Grassroots Facilities Programme. We will look to expand the criteria to ensure more sports benefit from this investment.

  • We will prioritise equal access for women and girls in our ongoing programme of investment in grassroots sports facilities.

Liberal Democrats

  • We will boost participation in sports and physical activity by investing in leisure centres, swimming pools and other grassroots facilities and supporting community sports clubs.

  • Support and encourage campaigns to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in sport. 

Green Party

  • Invest £5 bn investment in community sports, arts and culture. Support local grassroots sports clubs, music and art venues.

  • Allow access to school sports facilities by local clubs and teams outside teaching hours to ensure maximum use of a valuable resource.

  • Enable local authorities to maintain key sporting infrastructure including pools and playing fields. These need to be used across all sections of the community to ensure sport is inclusive.

  • Permit local authorities to invest in shares in professional sports clubs which operate in their area as a means of maintaining a connection between the club and its community. Any dividends paid to the authority must be reinvested into public sporting facilities or coaching programmes in the area.

  • Work cross party to support sports to be more diverse and representative, especially for women and girls and disabled people. 

Labour

  • Labour will deliver international events with pride and seek new opportunities where we can, creating a legacy to inspire the next generation of talent while promoting exercise and healthy living.

Plaid Cymru

  • Plaid Cymru support free-to-air sporting events to prevent people being priced out

  • Fund community sport participation at all levels

  • Recognising the positive effect of sport on communities and individuals, with a commitment to fund participation and engagement from cross-governmental sources

  • Commitment to inclusivity in sport