Which party will get—or should get—the rural vote in next month’s election? Country Life examines and compares five manifestos.

Conservatives

Life in the countryside

  • Invest £100 billion in infrastructure, improving roads and railway connections in the South-West, North and East Anglia
  • Rail fares frozen in real terms until 2020
  • No Inheritance Tax on properties up to £1 million
  • More local controls on planning
  • Councils to allocate land to locals under Right to Build
  • Plant 11 million new trees in public forests
  • Secure 3,000 rural post offices; set up Pub Loan Fund
  • Superfast broadband to 95% of UK by 2017
  • Free Wi-Fi for libraries; free maps of open spaces

Green Britain

  • Put £3 billion from CAP into enhancing countryside
  • Commit £1 billion to carbon capture and storage
  • 1,400 flood-defence schemes to protect 300,000 homes
  • Sovereign Wealth Fund to develop shale gas in North
  • End public subsidies on onshore wind farms; allow locals final say on planning applications
  • Spend £300 million mitigating damage—such as light pollution—from new roads and make good biodiversity losses from HS2

Boosts for small businesses

  • Major review of business rates, including for local newspapers
  • Tackle aggressive, prohibitive parking enforcement
  • Set higher targets for Visit Britain so more tourists leave London for other areas

Wildlife

  • ‘Blue Belt’ to protect marine habitats
  • Free vote on hunting
  • Extend Natural Capital Committee’s contract and set 25-year plan

Farming

  • Treble apprenticeships with target of three million places
  • 25-year plan to grow, buy and sell more British food
  • 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB
  • Streamline farm inspections through one task force
  • Country of origin labelling in Europe, especially dairy
  • Science-led approach to GM crops and pesticides

 

Labour

Life in the countryside

  • Devolve transport powers—bus routes and fares to be decided locally
  • Freeze rail fares in 2016 to aid commuters
  • ‘Mansion tax’ on properties worth more than £2 million
  • Communites to have more powers on new housing
  • Pass English Devolution Act to give powers to shires
  • Keep forests in public ownership
  • Improve protection of dogs and cats

Green Britain

  • Create one million high-tech Green jobs by 2025
  • Set legal target for decarbonising electricity by 2030
  • Insulate five million homes over 10 years
  • Strengthen Green Investment Bank through borrowing
  • Prioritise flood prevention; introduce climate-change adaption plan
  • Winter fuel payments early to pensioners on off-grid energy
  • Bring off-grid energy under the regulator

Boosts for small businesses

  • Create British Investment Bank with regional network
  • Increase minimum wage to £8; ban zero-hour contracts
  • Freeze business rates and energy bills for small rural enterprises

Wildlife

  • Deal with wildlife crime associated with shooting
  • Defend the hunting ban
  • Support the Natural Capital Committee to improve habitat and green spaces

Farming

  • Create Food, Farm and Fisheries sector to create jobs and apprenticeships and promote British foods
  • End the badger culls

Liberal Democrats

Life in the countryside

  • Bus fares to be decided locally
  • £10 a head public expenditure on cycling
  • Intercity cycle way along HS2 route
  • National resilience plan to adapt to global warming
  • New National Nature Parks to protect one million acres
  • Drive recycling up to 70%
  • New, non-political body to manage national forests
  • Plant a tree for every child born
  • Complete coastal path; enhance Right to Roam
  • Fund to save post offices, GPs and libraries

Green Britain

  • Pass Nature Act to set natural capital targets
  • Significantly increase accessible green space
  • Review governance of flood risk and drainage
  • Research back-to-nature flood prevention
  • Help land managers adapt to climate change
  • Low-emission zones in towns
  • Promote and research low-emission vehicles
  • End coal; promote wind farms, allow nuclear power

Boosts for small businesses

  • More than two million new apprenticeships
  • Make medium and small enterprises the priority for business tax cuts
  • Promote Green products and sustainable design

Wildlife

  • Tackle wildlife crime with increased enforcement
  • Legal protection for bumblebee nests
  • Designate marine protection areas by 2020
  • Improve enforcement of EU Directives on birds

Farming

  • Shift CAP payments to active farmer, not landowner
  • Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure fair dairy prices
  • Work at EU level on clear labelling of meat and dairy
  • Develop Animal Disease Strategy; invest in bovine TB vaccines
  • Support badger cull only if effective, humane and safe
  • Review use of cages, crates and antibiotics

 

UKIP

Life in the countryside

  • Reopen Manston Airport, Kent
  • Free parking at hospitals
  • Scrap HS2; end road tolls
  • Repeal National Planning Policy
  • Speed cameras as deterrents, not fundraisers
  • Protect Green Belt
  • Minister for Heritage and Tourism
  • Animal cruelty punished more
  • Save the Pub campaign

Green Britain

  • Repeal Climate Change Act
  • Scrap Green taxes and leave EU Emissions Trading System to reduce fuel bills
  • No new subsidies for wind or solar farms; maintain those for hydro
  • Start fracking; invest in coal

Boosts for small businesses

  • Change Small Business Rate Relief
  • No VAT on listed building repairs
  • 30 minutes’ free parking in town centres

Wildlife

  • End slaughter of dolphins by banning pair-trawler bass fishing
  • Vociferously oppose EU threats to sea angling

Farming

  • Start UK Single Farm Payment
  • No crop rotation restrictions
  • Add rare-breed saving to stewardship schemes; end EID for sheep
  • Fairer practices for dairy sector
  • Mandatory CCTV in abattoirs
  • Free vote on GM cultivation

 

Green Party

Life in the countryside

  • Railways under public ownership
  • End night flying; no new runways
  • Create Forests Protection Bill
  • Introduce Land Value Tax
  • Repeal National Planning Policy
  • Speed limits of 20mph in villages
  • Review racing; ban the whip
  • Ban electric collars on dogs
  • Reduce VAT on home renovation
  • Planners to map ecology networks

Green Britain

  • Invest £85 billion in renewable energy, flood defences and insulation
  • Extra £1 billion on flood defences
  • Invest in creation of one million jobs
  • Cheaper public transport; encourage cycling and walking
  • Land-management strategy for capturing carbon, such as peatlands
  • End coal and nuclear; ban fracking

Boosts for small businesses

  • Reduce employers’ National Insurance contribution
  • Encourage small, local firms

Wildlife

  • Make bees a priority species
  • Ban shooting, especially grouse
  • Ban snares
  • Increase protected land

Farming

  • Reform agri-environment schemes to include water management
  • Eat less and better meat
  • Ban badger cull, foie gras, cloning
  • Dramatically reduce pesticide use
  • Mandatory CCTV in abattoirs
  • Moratorium on GM products