* After you’ve read the aims, decide which you rate as most important out of our manifesto and have your say.
1 GIVE CHILDREN MORE FREEDOM
We must get children out into the countryside and understanding the value of risk; a bit of dirt wont hurt themtheyll get fit and learn to be resourceful. Its a depressing statistic that, between 1999 and 2006, there was a 35% increase in the number of children admitted to hospital with repetitive strain injury from playing computer games. Some have even been banned from playing tag and kiss-chase (inappropriate contact), picking conkers, and seeing the darker stage version of Mary Poppins.
2 LABEL FOOD BY COUNTY OF ORIGIN
We should know where our food comes from. We agree with the NFU that it should be mandatory to label food with the countryand, here, the countyof origin. The EU has proposed including nutritional information, but has not made the country of origin compulsory. Our Government aims to reduce the environmental and social costs of food transport by 20% by 2012, so heres how to do it. Currently, a basket of 26 imported organic foods could have travelled the equivalent of six times around the Equator.
3 EAT A RARE BREED
Buying the produce of rare breeds is key to their survival, as its the best way of supporting the people whore working hard to try to preserve these animals, many of which are integral to our heritage. Before the Rare Breeds Survival Trust was formed in 1973, more than 20 native breeds had become extinct. And much rare-breed produce is excellentSaddleback pork sausages and smoked back bacon won Gold at last years Great Taste Awards, and Tamworth sausages won a National Trust Fine Farm Produce Award.
4 REDUCE BRITAINS DEER POPULATION BY 30%
Britain is over-run with deer. They may be enchanting to see, but they cause an estimated £3 million6 million of damage each year to agriculture and the habitat of woodland birds, not to mention hundreds of serious car accidents. Yet only 160,000 of the estimated population of one million are culled annually. The Government has extended the shooting season for females to March 31, and, as venison is currently enjoying popularity, we suggest that more vigorous marketing of this delicious meat would encourage further reductions.
5 DRINK ENGLISH CHAMPAGNE
Dont be snobbish about our Champagnes. The trophy for best sparkling wine at the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2005 went to Merret Bloomsbury, made in Sussex by RidgeView Wine Estate. English sparkling wine cant be called Champagne, which must be made in the Champagne region of France, but conditions here are considered ideal for growing the best vines, and, although we drink 48 million bottles a year, our annual production is less than 500,000 from 40 vineyards.
6 CLEAN UP OUR VERGES
Dont use the side of the road as a rubbish dump, and make your disapproval of those who do apparent. One third of all drivers chucks out litter, usually the debris from a mobile picnic; almost 100% of the 25 million tons dropped in total each year is food and drink packaging. Every weekend, some 1.3 million pieces of litter are discarded on Britains roads, leading to our attractive green verges being blighted by food packets, bags, glass and cans, which cause the death or injury of 69,000 animals each year.
7 LEARN TO LOVE GM CROPS Its time to be realistic. The Governments chief scientist, Prof John Beddington, has told MPs that he seees no safety reasons to oppose GM crops, which could boost farm yields and keep down prices. If the worlds population grows, as expected, to nine billion by 2040, they may be essential. The EU has agreed to the regulation of GM crops, but not one application has been approved; however, it is watching the US, where products from cloned animals have just been agreed.
8 ONLY EAT ETHICALLY PRODUCED CHICKEN
Make sure the chicken you buy is genuinely free range; sales are up by 35% since last year, but we want to see this increase. About 90% of chickens are reared for their meat to minimum welfare standardsthis allows each of them a space less than the size of this pageand theyre bred to grow so fast that their life span may be just 35 days. Some 80% of standard supermarket chickens have hock burn (leg sores caused by prolonged contact with their droppings).
9 SAVE PROTECTED RURAL AREAS FROM FLIGHT PATHS
Within 30 years, 770 square miles of England could be seriously affected by noise pollution from planes. National Air Traffic Services (NATS) plans to redraw flight paths into Luton, Stansted and London City Airport, which means more flights over areas such as the countryside surrounding Bishops Stortford, ancient Hatfield Forest and the Blackwater Estuary. We believe that the countryside should be protected from disturbance like this, and that NATS should investigate other options.
10 PLANT A TREE
This is an achievable way to start reducing your carbon footprint, and figures show that we urgently need to start. To absorb the 150160 million tons of carbon per year emitted from fossil fuels in the UK alone, more than 20 million hectares of forest would need to be plantedmore than the land mass of the UK. The Woodland Trust aims to plant 500,000 trees a year. They advise using saplings of native species from sustainable sources.
* Which aim do you rate as most important out of the manifesto? Have your say.