What are the political parties offering for nature?

Election fever is in full swing, party political leaflets and letters keep coming through the door. But precious little has been said about nature in this election.

At CIEEM, we have been caught slightly off guard – as have others – by the early calling of the general election. We had already been working on our ‘asks for the manifestos’ but have instead now decided not to rush out something and instead focus on detailed ‘asks of the next government’ that we will be engaging with them on once the election dust has settled.

In the interim we have contributed to the Environmental Policy Forum’s asks of the next government, which covers a wide range of areas as fitting with an umbrella body representing environmental professional bodies and learned societies.

We have also been supporting the Nature 2030 campaign promoted by Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL). Part of that campaign is the Restore Nature Now demonstration that a number of CIEEM staff will be attending this Saturday (22 June 2024). We also attended the recent WCL nature hustings at Chester Zoo to understand what the main parties will do if they were elected to government.

So what does each party’s manifesto say about nature (in alphabetical order)?

Conservative Party

The Conservatives reiterate their previously stated commitment to leaving the environment in a better state for future generations, noting the landmark Environment Act including ambitious targets to halt nature’s decline by 2030 and Biodiversity Net Gain.

Their pledges for nature include:

  • To further international marine protections, they will consult with the UK Overseas Territories to expand the Blue Belt programme.
  • Continue their moratorium on deep sea mining and will ratify the Global Oceans Treaty.
  • Use fines from water companies to invest in river restoration projects.
  • Deliver tree planting and peatland commitments through the Nature for Climate funding, and continuing to work to unlock private investment.
  • Cut red tape that holds back the planting of trees in the planning system.
  • Deliver on the commitment at COP28 to introduce forest risk commodities legislation early in the next Parliament,
    tackling the UK’s impact on illegal deforestation internationally.
  • Designate an 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 support programmes that encourage disadvantaged children and young people to access green spaces.
  • Deliver on 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. They will not impose a universal Right to Roam.

Conservative Manifesto 2024

Green Party of England and Wales

The Green Party states that their “commitment to nature is not based solely on the economic value it can provide; we are part of nature and unless it flourishes, we cannot flourish either.”

The party pledges that elected Greens will transform and reconnect us with nature by:

  • Introducing 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.
  • Seek to strengthen and prevent any rollback of existing protections of the Green Belt, National Landscapes, and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Push to restore rivers and take a nature-based solutions approach to the prevention of flooding and storm overflows.
  • Increase DEFRA’s budget by £1.5bn, allowing an increase in funding for the Environment Agency and Natural England. This would include developing a soil health monitoring programme for England, to match those in Scotland and Wales.
  • 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.
  • Campaign to ensure that everybody lives within 15 minutes’ walking distance of a nature-rich greenspace. We will ensure car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking, wheeling and bus links.
  • Grants of an additional £3bn annually will be made available to landowners and farmers by the middle of the next parliament to support returning land to nature, with generous per hectare payments.
  • Champion reintroducing nature into our urban environments, with investment in schemes such as street planting of native trees, compulsory hedgehog holes in all new fencing, swift bricks and bee corridors. And we will prioritise training of conservation workers and developing a public service professional path for nature conservation.
  • Introduce a ban on all hunting in the first year of a new parliament. This includes trophy hunting, trail hunting, where dogs are used to track foxes, and the commercial shooting of game birds. Government subsidies will no longer be given to maintain artificial landscapes designed only for hunting (such as grouse moors).
  • Campaign again badger culling, and invest in better farm biosecurity and badger vaccination.
  • Where necessary for ecological reasons, or for animals described as pests, humane culling will be licensed by Natural England and carried out by trained professionals, along with banning the use of lead ammunition and outlaw all forms of snaring.
  • Ensure that all British domestic and overseas territorial waters offer the highest protection to marine mammals, sea birds and marine life.
  • Champion co-operation in achieving global sanctuary for all cetaceans, alongside active support for UN Charters and obligations under The Law of the Sea to protect against overfishing, pollution, climate impacts and other threats.
  • Push for a ban on bottom trawling and other destructive fishing practices in Marine Protected Areas and other waters, as well as for proper implementation and enforcement of relevant international legislation to protect deep sea species.

Green Party Manifesto 2024

Labour Party

Labour recognise the climate and nature crisis as “the greatest long-term global challenge that we face“, but focus mostly on the energy transition in this respect. They add that they will “work in partnership with civil society, communities and business to restore and protect our natural world”.

“As part of [their] plans to improve responsible access to nature, 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. Labour is committed to reducing waste by moving to a circular economy.”

In supporting British farmers, Labour recognises that food security is national security, wanting to champion British farming whilst protecting the environment. They want half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards.

Labour will introduce a land-use framework and make environment land management schemes work for farmers and nature, and work with farmers and scientists on measures to eradicate Bovine TB in order to end the “ineffective” badger cull.

Labour Party manifesto 2024

Liberal Democrats

The LibDem manifesto is strong and comprehensive on environmental ambition.

They will also:

  • 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.
  • Strengthen the Office for Environmental Protection and provide more funding to the Environment Agency and Natural England to help protect our environment and enforce environmental laws.
  • Improving the quantity and quality of bathing waters and sensitive nature sites with more regular and robust testing of water quality
  • Significantly increasing the amount of accessible green space, including protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path, exploring a ‘right to roam’ for waterways and creating a new designation of National Nature Park
  • Passing a new Environmental Rights Act, recognising everyone’s human right to a healthy environment and guaranteeing access to environmental justice.
  • Protecting at least 30% of land and sea areas by 2030 for nature’s recovery
  • Working together with our European neighbours to tackle the nature crisis, including applying to join the European Environment Agency.
  • Hold businesses to account for their responsibility to the environment by introducing a general duty of care for the environment, requiring large businesses to publish transition plans to become nature-positive across their activities and supply chains. And introducing nature-related financial disclosure requirements for large businesses.
  • Make planning work to the natural environment,
  • Invest in skills and training for the green economy.
  • Ensuring new developments result in significant net gain for biodiversity, with up to a 100% net gain for large developments.
  • Introducing a strategic Land and Sea Use Framework to effectively balance competing demands on our land and oceans.
  • Empowering Local Nature Recovery Strategies to identify a new Wild Belt for nature’s recovery.
  • Create a nature-positive economy by working to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 through the UN High Seas Treaty and finalising a Global Plastics Treaty to cut plastic pollution worldwide.
  • Ensure that nature-based solutions form a critical part of our strategy to tackle climate change.
  • Restoring our peatlands as a carbon store, and banning the use of horticultural peat and the routine burning of heather on peatlands.
  • Protecting and enhancing our temperate rainforest.
  • Creating and restoring habitats like saltmarshes, mudflats and seagrass meadows to guard against coastal flooding and erosion and absorb carbon emissions.
  • Working with international partners to fight deforestation around the world.
  • Creating a real network of marine protected areas, ensuring that they are fully protected from damaging and destructive activities, protecting and restoring blue carbon and ensuring climate resilience at sea.

Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2024

Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru recognises that the climate and nature emergencies are “the biggest threat to mankind globally“, and says that we need to think beyond economic growth in terms of GDP, adding that they will “call on the next UK Government to consider adopting alternative ways of measuring the economy”.

Unsurprisingly, they want full control over natural resources in Wales, maintain the ban on fracking, improve enforcement of protections for SSSIs, support a science-led plan aligned with the 2022 Kunming-Montreal agreement to ensure that nature loss is firmly in reverse as soon as possible.
Plaid Cymru supports the introduction of biodiversity targets, to halt biodiversity decline by 2030, and ensure substantive recovery by 2050.

Plaid would ensure that planning projects have to have regard to the two emergencies, to avoid
situations like wind farms being built on landscapes that provide habitats for endangered species.

They call on the next UK government to invest in green jobs and skills.

Plaid Cymru Manifesto 2024 EN


The Reform “contract” says very little on nature. It proposes to scrap climate targets, fast track North Sea oil and gas licences, open up a pilot for shale gas (fracking), and remove environmental farming incentives.

They will scrap all EU-derived laws on day one. That would include the Habitats Regulations. Further to this they would curtail Natural England’s powers, and scrap “many dozens” of “unaccountable” government bodies.

In compensations, it says that tree-planting, more recycling, and reducing single use plastics will protect the environment.

Reform Manifesto 2024

Scottish National Party

There are a broad range of environmental pledges in the SNP manifesto, but only a few on nature. They do however recognise the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.

They promise more investment in “sustainable” farming, but haven’t clarified what this actually means.

They also want more contributions to the global Loss and Damage Fund, recognising that those countries bearing the brunt of climate change impacts are also the countries that have contributed the least to carbon emissions.

SNP Manifesto 2024