As we’re sure you are aware, there is a general election this week. So what do the political hopefuls make of planning in our countryside?

We go to the polls on Thursday… what do the candidates have in mind for our environment?

CPRE Kent has been canvassing candidates in Thursday’s general election for their views on the natural environment, specifically in relation to their constituencies.
All those for whom we hold email addresses were contacted and given a copy of the CPRE document Our countryside: a manifesto for the next government. The candidates were asked if they supported the principles outlined in that manifesto.
We are happy to present the replies we have had here. We thank all those who responded.

Mandy Rossi, Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) for Ashford:

Thank you for getting in touch.
Our plan for a Green New Deal will transform the UK and improve the quality of everyone’s lives by creating a safer, fairer future for all.
This is a comprehensive 10-year plan ambitious enough to tackle climate and ecological breakdown at the scale and speed set out by science. It will deliver a fast and fair transformation of our economy and society, renewing almost every aspect of life in the UK: from the way we produce and consume energy to the way in which we grow the food we eat, and how we work, travel and heat our homes.
As the originators of the Green New Deal, we are the only party you can trust to act in time to tackle the climate emergency and rapidly reduce social and economic inequality – and to make these our top priorities.
The Green New Deal will get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030 by:
• Meeting most of our energy needs through the domestic production of renewable energy
• Reducing overall energy demand from buildings and homes
• Transforming UK industry, transport and land use
Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Adrian Gee-Turner, Liberal Democrat PPC for Ashford:

I was brought up in the countryside and worked in agriculture and forestry in my teens and early 20s.
I can agree to support all of your points in full, except one: “Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: contesting contrived figures that place an unacceptably large development burden on Kent, resulting in unsustainable and damaging proposals across the Medway area” I would need to understand further what alternative ideas you would have as a solution to meeting the need for housing.
I would welcome the opportunity to hear further about what options would work for the countryside to provide good-quality affordable housing.

Anna Firth, Conservative PCC for Canterbury:

Thank you for your email. I am a big supporter of your work and would be very happy to meet with you [CPRE Kent director Hilary Newport] if I am fortunate enough to be elected next week.

Rosie Duffield, Labour Party PCC for Canterbury (via office):

Climate change is the biggest issue facing us all, and I can assure you that Rosie is already championing many of the policies supported by CPRE. 
Last summer Rosie attended the meeting in Westminster hosted by Ed Miliband from Labour and Caroline Lucas from the Green Party when Greta Thunberg made such a moving and influential speech.
Rosie spoke in the following Commons debate and has long supported the Campaign for Clean Air in Canterbury.
We recently published our Labour Party Manifesto It’s Time for Real Change, where the first chapter, A Green Industrial Revolution, includes detailed proposals regarding safeguarding the environment, our Plan for Nature, that addresses the range of issues represented by CPRE.  Our aim is to decarbonise different sectors of the economy within realistic timescales with the aim of relying entirely on renewable sources of energy in the 2030s.
Our manifesto also includes commitments to ecosystem repair and environmental protections, introduction of a Climate and Environment Emergency Bill setting out in law robust, binding new standards for decarbonisation, nature recovery, environmental quality and habitats and species protection.
We will create new National Parks alongside a revised system of other protected area designations, which will guard existing wildlife sites and join up important habitats, while also ensuring more people can enjoy access nature.
We will also maintain and continuously improve existing EU standards of environmental regulation, and introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones, complying with World Health Organisation limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides.
The gap between house prices and average incomes has reached the stage where millions of people in the towns and countryside are denied access to secure housing. The only way to deliver on everyone’s right to a good home is to build publicly funded social housing.
The Labour Party sees transport as an essential public service and will increase and expand local services, reinstating the 3,000 routes that have been cut, particularly hitting rural communities.
We will deliver full-fibre broadband free to everybody in every home in our country by creating a new public service, boosting the economy, connecting communities and putting money back in your pocket.
I think you will find that the Labour Party manifesto demonstrates the level of investment urgently needed in rural transport, broadband and housing.
As you can imagine, Rosie is working as hard as she possibly can to be re-elected on December 12. She would very much like to return to Parliament in order to continue to represent the people of Canterbury and Whitstable and to fight for the causes in which she believes, including the paramount imperative of tackling climate change.

Claire Malcomson, Lib Dem PCC for Canterbury:

Thank you for your email.
My time is very pushed in the next couple of weeks, but definitely if I become MP I would be keen to meet with you. I work closely with CPRE locally in Surrey and would continue to do this in Canterbury. I know Max Rosenburg pretty well.
I have also been on our local board of our AONB and you may know I am the environment cabinet member for Mole Valley. 
My priority is always to mitigate climate change. Since declaring a climate emergency, we have been working extremely hard. This year we took over the administration in May and have made huge steps to make our council buildings and our policies more climate-friendly.  
I am well known in my area for standing up for the environment and biodiversity and getting the greenest initiatives as possible on to our Local Plan as possible.
Thank you again for contacting me.

Alan Bullion, Liberal Democrat PCC for Gillingham and Rainham:

As a Medway candidate, do you have more info on [the following point], please? … “Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: contesting contrived figures that place an unacceptably large development burden on Kent, resulting in unsustainable and damaging proposals across the Medway area”

Stuart Jeffery, Green Party PPC for Maidstone and The Weald:

Thank you for your email. As you are aware, I have been a long-standing supporter of CPRE and worked with you on campaigns in the past. My support will be there for the future, too.
In terms of the policies on which you would like my support:

  • Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government: I have led the call for a moratorium on housebuilding on greenfield sites around Maidstone. It is quite clear that the housing targets are based on economics rather than need and that the housing needs of people will not be met by executive homes in the countryside but by affordable and social housing near jobs and transport links.
  • Protecting all of the Maidstone area’s countryside and open spaces: Absolutely!
  • Tackling the climate emergency: Your call for carbon neutrality by 2045 is far too late, this needs to be by 2030 and the Greens have the plans and political will to achieve this. The UN report last year stated that we need a 78 per cent reduction globally by 2030 and the UK needs to lead the way with this reduction.
  • A countryside for all of us: Absolutely. As well as accessibility, I want forest schools and for people of all ages to learn about nature.
  • Planning for communities: The planning framework needs a fundamental rewrite. There are plenty of brownfield sites for the type of homes that people need.
  • Creating thriving rural communities: Affordable homes and infrastructure are essential. We want digital access to rural areas, and public transport would receive the biggest investment under the Greens as it is the key mode of medium-distance transport for the future if we are to tackle climate change.

This constituency is not a marginal one and therefore every Green vote will send a clear message that Green politics, social justice, the strongest action on climate change and of course human and animal rights are essential.

Sonia Hyner, Green Party PPC for Rochester and Strood:

The Green Party is proud to be the party of the environment. We recognise that rural populations face the same social and economic pressures that are recognised among urban populations.

Tackle the climate emergency
Our plan for a Green New Deal will transform the UK and improve the quality of everyone’s lives by creating a safer, fairer future for all.
This is a comprehensive 10-year plan ambitious enough to tackle climate and ecological breakdown at the scale and speed set out by science. It will deliver a fast and fair transformation of our economy and society, renewing almost every aspect of life in the UK: from the way we produce and consume energy to the way in which we grow the food we eat, and how we work, travel and heat our homes.
As the originators of the Green New Deal, we are the only party you can trust to act in time to tackle the climate emergency and rapidly reduce social and economic inequality – and to make these our top priorities.
The Green New Deal will get the UK on track to reducing climate emissions to net zero by 2030 by:

  • Meeting most of our energy needs through the domestic production of renewable energy
  • Reducing overall energy demand from buildings and homes
  • Transforming UK industry, transport and land use

Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Teresa Murray, Labour Party PCC for Rochester and Strood:

Thank you for contacting me with your views about the issue that is important for you in the General Election on December 12.
It is very helpful for me to understand what is important to those I hope to represent as a Labour MP for Rochester and Strood, but I am not signing any pledges before the election but am saving all of the emails and communications I have received.
It’s important to be honest and remind you that unless I am elected I will not be able to influence your issue or campaign at government level but am ensuring that the Labour Party is aware of the topics I am being contacted about.
I am pleased to say that most  of the issues are addressed by our costed manifesto pledges and the manifesto is easily available for you to read online at www.labourparty.org.uk
Labour’s manifesto will be transformative for Rochester and Strood because we are ideally placed both geographically and in terms of the skills base here to respond to Labour’s plans for investment in new green jobs and the public services which will help regenerate our towns and we’ll build the affordable homes people need in the right places as well as controlling the private rented sector.
Lots of you have asked me about Brexit and my personal stand. I voted Remain and respect the result of the 2016 referendum. However, I am comfortable with Labour’s position, which is to negotiate a deal that protects a sensible transition and jobs, then put that deal to the people with a summary of what it contains and a Remain option so that we can all be confident about what we are voting for and misinformation is eliminated.
If I am elected as your Labour MP, I will contact you again to explore how best to take forward the issues you and others have asked me to support. Here are the other most frequently raised topics:

  • Environmental protection and climate change
  • The NHS and treatment available for various serious conditions
  • Animal welfare and fox-hunting
  • Housing
  • Fair treatment for faith groups
  • WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) compensation
  • Schools, education and training
  • A variety of local issues about which I have provided specific responses

I am happy to come and talk to groups or to be contacted further.

April Clark, Green Party PCC for Tonbridge and Malling:

Thank you for your email. If I am elected, I would be delighted to meet CPRE Kent to discuss how we can meet the needs of local communities while enhancing the countryside for current and future generations to enjoy.
The Green Party is proud to be the party of the environment. We recognise that rural populations face the same social and economic pressures that are recognised among urban populations.

Regarding the CPRE manifesto topics:
Challenging excessive housing targets set by central government
We would amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to deliver these new homes in a way that preserves local ecology and creates new green spaces.
We also want to empower local authorities to bring empty homes back into use and create a total of 100,000 new homes for social rent (council homes) a year, built to the Passivhaus or equivalent standard. This standard will see these new homes use 90 per cent less energy for space heating than the average home, significantly reducing household bills.
Local authorities will be allocated funding for council home creation based on the needs of their area, and we will incentivise spreading small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage.
We will also ensure all new developments will be located and designed to ensure that residents do not need cars to live a full life, either having safe pedestrian access to local shops and schools, or are within 1km of a local rail, tube or tram station, or 500m of a high-frequency bus service.
Protecting all of the Tonbridge and Malling area’s countryside and open spaces
We believe we should encourage, through changes to the planning system, the ‘rewilding’ of spaces to provide new habitats for wildlife. An ecological crisis is happening – we must tackle it by restoring, expanding and joining up the wild spaces nature needs to thrive.
Our priorities will include strengthening Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest protections, with development in these areas only being permitted in exceptional circumstances.
We would ban mineral extraction, road-building and military training from all National Parks. We will give local communities a say in National Park governance, though creating new democratically elected positions on National Park boards.
We would also encourage applications from communities for new Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Park designations.
Promote a countryside for all of us
Green spaces can inspxire children to be physically active and develop a passion for nature, encouraging them to learn more about the world around them. We would recognise access to diverse nature as a human right and uphold it across society.
We will create a Nature GCSE to encourage children to value nature and to grow a whole new generation of naturalists. We will also introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues.
We will open up car-free access to the National Parks with new cycling, walking and bus links. We would restore access to the countryside by reopening lost public rights of way and creating new ones. We will grant to people in England and Wales the same right to roam over all landscapes as people in Scotland currently enjoy.
Plan for communities
The Green Party will amend the National Planning Policy Framework so it no longer imposes centrally-set development targets on local councils. We will allow councils to develop their own planning policies, based on genuine local housing need and their requirement to contribute to the creation of at least 100,000 new council homes a year nationally. Councils will be required to balance this need with the need to preserve local ecology and the opportunity to create new green spaces.
We strongly support land designations which prevent inappropriate development on National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, natural habitats of local, regional, national or international importance, sites of special scientific or archaeological interest and ancient woodlands.
Create thriving rural communities
We will build 100,000 new energy-efficient council homes per year for the next 10 years, including in the countryside. We will allocate funding to local authorities for council home creation based on the needs of their area. We will incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates, and to build, renovate and convert to high-quality designs that respect local architectural heritage. The new council homes will offer secure, lifetime tenancies.
Buses are a lifeline for millions and would be at the centre of our transport policy. We need to make using public transport as simple and straightforward as travelling by car. For too many people in the countryside there is no alternative to the car. Our national bus strategy would be focused on ensuring that it would be cheaper to travel by bus, tram or train than by car – we would do this by lowering fares and would use £3.5 billion per year to do this, funded by the cancellation of HS2.
Bus services must be planned around the needs of rural communities. Local councils would have responsibility the setting of routes, frequencies and fares for buses in their area, with residents fully consulted and involved in shaping these services. We would want to reopen rail lines and stations wherever possible.
The rural economy will face new challenges and opportunities in developing sustainable mixed land use, generating renewable power and in tourism. Better broadband for the countryside is essential. We will better connect rural communities through reliable broadband and mobile internet, delivered through councils who understand local connection needs.
The Green Party’s approach to the countryside is focused on the need to ensure the protection and sustainability of our most important asset.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain our approach to the issues you have raised and, if elected, I look forward to working with CPRE on our shared priorities.

Clear and simple: our message for the next government, whoever it may be

Well, it’s almost upon us!
We speak, naturally, of the General Election (on Thursday, December 12, should you have forgotten).
You shouldn’t be surprised to know that CPRE has been well prepared for this and we have already placed our manifesto on this website.
However, you can never (well, rarely) state your ambitions too often, so here are some graphics that show succinctly and precisely what we would like to see from the next government in relation to our rural environment.
Please do feel free to share far and wide.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

CPRE Manifesto for 2017 election

CPRE’s manifesto calls on all parties in the election to recognise the countryside’s huge contribution to the economy and our sense of who we are as individuals and communities, and to develop policies that will protect and enhance rural areas.

2517243356_27a069a6ce_o

We are calling for:

  • stronger protection of Green Belts and AONBs
  • investment in urban regeneration, especially brownfield sites
  • funding for farming to ensure we are a resilient nation in terms of food and environment and to reverse the decline in nature, in soils and in landscapes
  • an overhaul of transport policy in favour of a better integrated and sustainable approach
  • reduce waste and pollution by committing to resource efficiency schemes, such as deposit return systems
  • transpose all EU environmental protections into domestic law and introduce an ambitious new Environment Act

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Flax field by Vicky Ellis

Read our manifesto here.

April 27th 2017.