What Do the Welsh and Scottish Election Manifestos Say About The Environment?
On 6 May, elections will be held to appoint members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd. We recently wrote to all major parties in Wales asking them to include an election manifesto commitment that ensures the COVID-19 recovery is achieved in a way that addresses the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis at the same time, and to put biodiversity and climate change crisis at the forefront of decision making.
Below is a run-down of the environmental commitments stated in major parties’ manifestos. This is intended as a summary, links are provided to full manifestos that will offer greater detail. There are also several other minor parties not covered here.
- Create a National Forest for Wales, for the benefits of equality and mental health as well as the environment. Also strengthen protections for ancient woodlands.
- Create the first new national park in Wales in almost 65 years to combat the climate emergency and create new jobs. The park will cover the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.
- Expand the scheme supporting community groups to create or significantly enhance green spaces accessible to and valued by local communities, including: 2,000 pollinator habitat sites; 1,000 community food growing sites; 200 community orchards cultivating native fruit; 100 ‘Tiny Forests’; 50 habitat creation schemes at rail stations and transport interchanges; and 50 sensory gardens for therapeutic purposes.
- Create a new system of farm support that will maximise the protective power of nature through farming, requiring food production in Wales takes place within environmental limits.
- Create jobs across Wales with green energy, environmental protections and tourism.
- Establish a targeted scheme to support restoration of seagrass and saltmarsh habitats along Wales’ coastline.
- Invest for the long term in the green and modern infrastructure Wales needs to thrive.
- Launch a new 10-year Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan for a zero-carbon economy.
- Develop a new major routes fund to improve the attractiveness and biodiversity of areas alongside major transport routes into Wales.
- Work towards a new target of 45% of journeys by sustainable modes by 2040, setting more stretching goals where possible.
- Abolish the use of the most littered single-use plastics, protecting the seas and countryside.
- Build in the right way using materials with low levels of embodied carbon, such as timber.
- Deliver nature-based flood management in all major river catchments to expand wetland and woodland habitats at the same time as relieving pressure on hard defences.
- Legislate to strengthen the requirements for the use of sustainable drainage systems that provide wildlife habitat.
- Introduce a Nature Act with statutory targets to restore biodiversity by 2050 and establishes an independent environmental governance body for Wales.
- Review the entire budget to ensure the resource allocated to decarbonising and restoring nature matches the urgent need and is reflective of the government’s ambition.
- Introduce a long-term National Nature Plan which will set out a national natural capital balance sheet, with proposed capital gains and maintenance with spending and an independent auditing process.
- Invest in protecting and developing an extensive network of wildlife sites, with a particular focus on improving existing protected sites.
- Farmers would be encouraged to transition to more sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of land use and a Welsh Agriculture Bill would put greater emphasis on decarbonisation, sustainable food production, and enhanced biodiversity.
- Introduce a Clean Air Act for Wales in first year in Government.
- Commit to fund Natural Resources Wales and National Parks in a way that reflects the key role they have to play in tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis.
- Make reforesting Wales a national goal and develop and implement an action plan to deliver a minimum of 20% tree cover in all urban areas. Also commit to planting a 100,000 hectares of mixed woodland per decade in Wales, resulting in a total increase of 300,000 hectares by 2050. Use a ‘right tree in right place’ approach for forest restoration.
- Improve and extend Wales’ marine protected areas and investigate the creation of a National Park of the Sea in Cardigan Bay and the Celtic Sea.
- Set a Wales-wide mission to generate 100% of electricity and reach zero emissions by 2035.
- In planning new homes, ban the use of fossil fuel energy from 2022 and require all to be highly energy efficient by 2023.
- Support the development of tidal lagoons and ensure all renewable energy developments minimise any potential harm to biodiversity by developing improved locational guidance to developers in both marine and terrestrial environments.
- Commit to providing good quality and safe green space within a five-minute walk of all Welsh households.
- Flood mitigation measures would be increased to £500m by the end of the five year Senedd term.
- Commit to introducing a Wales Fisheries Bill, working with industry stakeholders to develop fisheries and aquaculture policy, backed by a strategy that has sustainability, investment and industry engagement at its core.
- Establish a £20 million Wales Wildlife Fund to support conservation efforts across Wales.
- Scrap Natural Resources Wales and create two separate organisations focused on the commercial and the current regulatory function.
- Create the Independent Office for Environmental Protection and Climate Change for Wales, to hold the Welsh Government and other public bodies to account in tackling climate change and protecting our environment.
- Introduce an Agricultural Bill for Wales setting out how farmers and land managers will be supported with public money for public goods.
- Plant at least eight million trees a year, to sequester half a million tonnes of CO2 a year, whilst also reducing flood risks.
- Place a legal duty on the Welsh Government to maintain fish sustainability for every stock.
- Introduce a Clean Air Act to cut pollution and reduce the incidence of respiratory disease.
- Ban single-use plastics for non-medical use such as plastic wet wipes, straws, stirrers, disposable cups and cotton buds, as well as creating a drinks deposit return scheme.
- Making Wales Net Zero by 2050, with investment in clean energy solutions to reduce carbon emissions, and creating 15,000 new green jobs.
- Work with the UK Government to inject £2 billion into Wales, including an M4 relief road, upgrades to the A55 and A40, and green charging points.
- Take action to protect our natural environment and biodiversity, including action on flooding, reforestation, wildlife conservation, marine conservation and loss of open, public green space.
- Agree Nature and Marine Recovery Plans, to clean up our
environment and our waters, protect species, and ensure that our
environment can thrive.
- Look to establish a new independent body that will hold the Welsh Government to account and ensure compliance with environmental policy and practice.
- Support plans for a National Forest for Wales.
- Make every town in Wales a Tree Town, with every council
preparing a long term Tree and Woodland Strategy to deliver and
sustain a minimum of 20% tree cover in urban areas and 30% tree
cover for all new developments.
- Update and improve tree protection legislation as part of plans
for a new Welsh Planning Act.
- Introduce legally binding nature recovery targets with regular
milestones, backed up by monitoring and reporting.
- Ensure that the Basic Payments Scheme is replaced by a system
based on public money for public goods, including: sustainable
land management for biodiversity gain and for improvements in
water quality and pollution levels.
- Increase resources for Natural Resource Wales to enable
investigation and prosecution of incidents of pollution, supporting
targeted interventions based on the polluter pays principle.
- An investment of £1bn per year to fight the climate emergency, create new green jobs, and cut household energy bills.
- Pass a Green Homes Act to create a new green standard for Welsh homes and cut average household bills by up to £500 per year.
- Tackle pollution and clean up the air we breathe with a Clean Air Act in the first 100 days.
- 15-minute communities become the norm rather than the exception.
- Commitment to spend more than the current 1% of the Welsh Government budget on decarbonisation. Citizens’ assemblies must be put in place in every community in Wales to plan for and deliver community-based green plans that are resourced and cross-cutting.
Welsh Liberal Democrats Manifesto
- Lobby the UK Government to scrap the Climate Change Act (2008).
- Overturn Welsh Labour’s decision to designate all of Wales as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) and implement a localised, evidenced-based approach to tackle nitrate pollution in collaboration with farmers and stakeholders.
- Remove taxpayer funded subsidies from unprofitable wind and solar schemes, as soon as contractual arrangements expire.
- Take the UK out of the Paris Climate Agreement (2016) and any associated carbon trading schemes.
- Champion the growth of British farming, fishing, food safety and animal welfare standards.
- Uphold Basic Farm Payments for a minimum of five years. Subsidies must focus on reequipping farmers and improve land management.
- Push ahead with a post-Brexit ban of live animal exports for slaughter.
- Establish Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) and No Take Zones, which are for vital hatcheries and fish stocks.
- Explore the benefits of tidal energy by calling on the UK Government to review its decision to abandon the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon.
Scottish National Party (SNP)
- Ensure that every Local Authority area will have a Nature Network of new, locally driven projects which aim to improve ecological connectivity across Scotland.
- Publish a new biodiversity strategy within 12 months of the biodiversity COP, and remain committed to protecting at least 30% of Scotland’s land by 2030.
- Review current biodiversity targets.
- Investing an additional £500 million in our natural economy to help tackle the biodiversity crisis
- Shift half of all funding for farming and crofting from unconditional to conditional support with targeted outcomes for biodiversity gain by 2025.
- Implement the recommendations of the Deer Working Group and modernise deer management legislation.
- Ban the sale of peat related gardening products.
- Commitment to implement the licensing of driven grouse shooting.
- Decarbonise the heating of one million homes by 2030 with investment of £1.6bn over five years
- Double the Climate Justice Fund to £24m over four years.
- Bring forward a Circular Economy Bill and implement a deposit return scheme for single use drinks containers.
- Increase targets for new woodland creation by 50%, from 12,000 hectares up to 18,000 hectares per year by 2025.
- Seek to reduce harmful practices and consequences such as marine littering, marine plastics, pollution and reduce carbon emissions from marine activity.
- Invest £100m in a green jobs fund to support new and more opportunities for green job creation.
- Establish Nature Networks across Scotland to better safeguard protected areas, allow species to move between habitats and ensure that our natural assets are treated as part of our national infrastructure.
- Bring forward an ambitious Nature Bill to strengthen environmental protections on land and sea for Scottish species and their habitats.
- Increase new tree planting in Scotland to 18,000 hectares annually by 2024-25. Also increase the proportion of new planting that is of native species, while ensuring that Scotland’s forests are productive.
- Establish a £25m Cleaner Seas Fund to take harmful products including plastics out of the seas.
- Review the current Marine Protected Areas in Scottish waters, with a view to expanding their extent, and pilot the introduction of Highly Protected Marine Areas.
- End peat extraction and aim to restore peatland to 20,000 hectares by 2024-25.
- Reverse cuts to the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme.
- Support land managers in controlling our deer population to reduce damage to the natural environment.
- Create Scotland’s third national park in Galloway.
- Bring forward a Circular Economy Bill to help Scotland achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
- Support the UK government’s North Sea Transition Deal.
Scottish Conservatives Manifesto
- Scottish Labour supports an ambitious Environment Act that includes legally binding targets for nature’s recovery.
- Invest in energy efficiency measures for buildings across Scotland.
- A Just Transition focused on developing the skills needed in a green recovery and protecting jobs and communities impacted by the transition to net zero.
- Develop a coherent biodiversity action plan for post-2020 for land, air and sea.
- Support a plan for ocean recovery with at least one tenth of Scotland’s Seas fully protected, and a further 20% highly protected, from destructive and extractive activities by 2030.
- Increase peatland restoration to 20,000 hectares each year, alongside measures to end commercial peat extraction and support the comprehensive licensing of grouse moors as soon as possible.
- Maintain current levels of agricultural funding until 2024 and then put in place a new scheme that gives farmers and crofters certainty.
- State that 50% of all woodland expansion should be with native species and at least 10% delivered through natural regeneration.
- Support the implementation of the Deer Working Group recommendations.
- Give interest-free government loans to help more low and middle income households buy electric cars over the next two years and accelerate the roll-out of electric charging points.
- Increase active travel spending to 10% of the overall transport budget, giving priority to encouraging and enabling people to get out of their cars, onto bikes, and walk more.
- Decarbonise Scotland’s railways within 15 years, focusing on electrification, and seek to make train journeys between Scotland’s cities faster than going by car.
- Support measures that deliver a circular economy, including introducing a Circular Economy Bill and obligations on the producers of waste and annual material flow accounts.
- Create a Nature Network for Scotland, connecting habitats across the country to ensure they are robust, coherent and proofed against climate change. This will be given statutory weight in national planning documents and government policy.
- Introduce legally binding nature recovery targets.
- Invest at least £895m over the next five years in restoring nature whilst investing in rural communities, creating over 6,000 green jobs.
- Deliver a new Agriculture Bill that enshrines the principles of climate and nature recovery into a new agricultural support scheme.
- Increase forested area to 40%, with at least 60% of this to be native woodland.
- Ban peat extraction and sale for horticultural use and ban the burning of
peatlands and license any other proposed burning.
- Source at least 70% of the onshore wind supply chain domestically.
- Ensure at least 30% of Scottish seas are protected, and a third of this area will be highly protected.
- Invest in marine renewables and give financial support for innovation and to support early stage tidal turbines.
- Call on the UK government to stop issuing new licences for oil and gas exploration and development and end subsidies and tax breaks for the industry.
- Ban the importation of shale and fracked gas for processing in Scotland, and ensure the Scottish government can deliver the transition to net-zero.
- Introduce Low Emission Zones with immediate effect in all areas that breach air quality limits.
- Introduce a Circular Economy Bill with targets to reduce our overall consumption of raw materials, our carbon footprint, and a duty to produce Resource Reduction Plans.
- Deliver a fully resourced a Wildlife Crime Investigation Unit to investigate wildlife persecution and enforce protection.
- Introduce a Human Rights (Scotland) Act to enshrine fundamental rights, including the right to a healthy and safe environment.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
- Propose a Nature Recovery Law to set legal targets across government for nature recovery, and clean air, soils and rivers.
- Ensure access to green, open spaces, wildlife corridors and woodland is available to every community.
- Use the recent conclusions of the expert working groups on agriculture support as a starting point in driving the transition to a more sustainable food production system.
- License the practice of muirburn in the uplands.
- Implement the recommendations of the Deer Management Review to control numbers and restore biodiverse landscapes.
- Expand woodland using at least 50 per cent native species, increasing Scotland’s forest cover by an additional 36 million trees every year.
- New national parks, and new woodlands close to where people live.
- Start a Marine Recovery Plan to restore more of our seas, encourage marine biodiversity and boost ecotourism businesses alongside traditional maritime industries.
- Designate new Marine Protected Areas where this is backed by scientific evidence.
- Move one million homes to zero emission heating by 2030.
- Invest in low carbon heat networks.
- Double the programmes to end fuel poverty.
- Invest in new skills for a just transition from fossil fuel industry.
- Introduce a Circular Economy Law including targets that reduce emissions.
- Aim to fully incorporate the Right to a Healthy and Safe Environment into Scots Law.