The Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2019

 

As part of our election series, with the General Election just around the corner, the Liberal Democratic Party published its manifesto in November 2019. The key pledges made which are of most significance to the planning profession are set out below:

Environment

  • Require all companies registered in the UK and listed on UK stock exchanges to set targets consistent with the Paris Agreement on climate change and to report on their implementation, and establish a general corporate duty of care for the environment and human rights
  • Establish a Department for Climate Change and Natural Resources, appoint a cabinet-level Chief Secretary for Sustainability in the Treasury to coordinate government-wide action to make the economy sustainable resource-efficient and zero-carbon, and require every government agency to account for its contribution towards meeting climate targets
  • Establish UK and local Citizens’ Climate Assemblies to engage the public in tackling the climate emergency
  • Create a statutory duty on all local authorities to produce a Zero Carbon Strategy, including plans for local energy, transport and land use, and devolve powers and funding to enable every council to implement it
  • Guarantee an Office of Environmental Protection that is fully independent of government and possesses powers and resources to enforce compliance with climate and environmental targets
  • Increase government expenditure on climate and environmental objectives, reaching at least five per cent of the total within five years
  • Support investment and innovation in zero-carbon and resource-efficient infrastructure and technologies by creating a new Green Investment Bank and increasing funding for Innovate UK and new Catapult innovation and technology centres on farming and land use and on carbon dioxide removal
  • Implement the UK’s G7 pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and provide Just Transition funding for areas and communities negatively affected by the transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
  • Introduce a Nature Act to restore the natural environment through setting legally binding near-term and long-term targets for improving water, air, soil and biodiversity, and supported by funding streams of at least £18 billion over five years
  • Combat climate change, and benefit nature and people by coordinating the planting of 60 million trees a year and introducing requirements for the greater use of sustainably harvested wood in construction
  • Invest in large scale restoration of peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, salt marshes, wetlands and coastal waters, helping to absorb carbon, protect against floods, improve water quality and protect habitats, including through piloting ‘rewilding’ approaches
  • Reduce basic agricultural support payments to the larger recipients and redeploy the savings to support the public goods that come from effective land management, including restoring nature and protecting the countryside, preventing flooding and combating climate change through measures to increase soil carbon and expand native woodland
  • Introduce a National Food Strategy, including the use of public procurement policy, to promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food and cut down on food waste
  • Support producers by broadening the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator and supporting them with access to markets
  • Significantly increase 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 Parks
  • Give the Local Green Space designation the force of law

Housing

  • Promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built-in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes
  • Improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing
  • Allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500 per cent where homes are being bought as second homes with a stamp duty surcharge on overseas residents purchasing such properties
  • Build new houses to zero-carbon standards and cut fuel bills through a ten-year programme to reduce energy consumption from all the UK’s buildings
  • Devolve full control of Right to Buy to local councils
  • Help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30
  • Promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built-in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes

Affordable Housing

  • Build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year
  • Help finance the large increase in the building of social homes with investment from our £130 billion capital infrastructure budget
  • Help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property-owning it outright after 30 years
  • Set clearer standards for homes that are socially rented
  • Require complaints to be dealt with in a timely manner
  • Proactively enforce the regulations that are intended to protect social renters
  • Fully recognise tenant panels so that renters have a voice in landlord governance

Renewable Energy

  • Accelerate the deployment of renewable power, providing more funding, removing the Conservatives’ restrictions on solar and wind and building more interconnectors to guarantee security of supply; we aim to reach at least 80 per cent renewable electricity in the UK by 2030
  • Expand community and decentralised energy, support councils to develop local electricity generation and require all new homes to be fitted with solar panels
  • Ban fracking because of its negative impacts on climate change, the energy mix and the local environment
  • Support investment and innovation in cutting-edge energy technologies, including tidal and wave power, energy storage, demand response, smart grids and hydrogen
  • Provide an additional £12 billion over five years to support these commitments, and ensure that the National Infrastructure Commission, National Grid, the energy regulator Ofgem, and the Crown Estate work together to deliver our net-zero climate objective

Lower Energy Bills

  • Cut energy bills, end fuel poverty by 2025 and reduce emissions from buildings, including by providing free retrofits for low-income homes, piloting a new subsidised Energy-Saving Homes scheme, graduating Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property and reducing VAT on home insulation
  • Empower councils to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street, which cuts costs
  • Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard (whereas much energy is generated on-site, through renewable sources, as is used), by 2021, rising to a more ambitious (‘Passivhaus’) standard by 2025
  • Increase minimum energy efficiency standards for privately rented properties and remove the cost cap on improvements
  • Adopt a Zero-Carbon Heat Strategy, including reforming the Renewable Heat Incentive, requiring the phased installation of heat pumps in homes and businesses off the gas grid, and piloting projects to determine the best future mix of zero-carbon heating solutions

Transport

  • Investing in public transport, buses, trams and railways to enable people to travel more easily while reducing their impact on the environment
  • Placing a far higher priority on encouraging walking and cycling – the healthiest forms of transport
  • Accelerating the transition to ultra-low-emission transport – cars, buses and trains – through taxation, subsidy and regulation
  • Committed to completing HS2
  • Freeze train fares, with a fare-freeze for all peak times and season tickets

Reduce the Need for Car Travel

  • Give new powers to local authorities and communities to improve transport in their areas, including the ability to introduce network-wide ticketing, like in London
  • Implement, in cooperation with local authorities, light rail schemes for trams and tram-trains where these are appropriate solutions to public transport requirements
  • Restore bus routes and add new routes where there is local need; we will provide £4.5 billion over five years for this programme
  • Introduce a nationwide strategy to promote walking and cycling, including the creation of dedicated safe cycling lanes, increasing spending per head five-fold to reach 10 per cent of the transport budget
  • Build on the successful Local Sustainable Transport Fund established by the Liberal Democrats when in government, and workplace travel plans, to reduce the number of cars – particularly single-occupancy cars – used for commuting and encourage the development of car-sharing schemes and car clubs and autonomous vehicles for public use
  • Amend planning rules to promote sustainable transport and land use

Infrastructure

  • Investment in infrastructure in rural and coastal communities by providing the following:
  • Set up a £2 billion Rural Services Fund to enable the co-location of services in local hubs around existing local infrastructure
  • Invest in bus services by:
  • Substantially increasing funding for buses, enabling local authorities to restore old routes and open new ones
  • Supporting rural bus services and encouraging alternatives to conventional bus services where they are not viable
  • Encouraging local authorities to use their new powers under the Bus Services Act, including franchising powers and repealing the rule preventing local councils from running their own bus companies
  • Providing funding to accelerate the transition to electric buses
  • Ensure that all households and businesses have access to superfast broadband (30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload)
  • Invest £2 billion in innovative solutions to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the UK, working with local authorities and providing grants to help areas replicate the success of existing community-led projects
  • Invest in mobile data infrastructure and expand it to cover all homes
  • Launch a National Fund for Coastal Change, to enable local authorities to properly manage their changing coastlines
  • Reform planning to ensure developers are required to provide essential local infrastructure from affordable homes to schools, surgeries and roads alongside new homes.

Read our key points from the Conservative and Labour Manifesto.

Visit our blog again soon when we will give our opinion of the General Election results.

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