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Greens and Brexit party would scrap HS2, change planning rules and plant trees

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The Green party’s election manifesto, ‘If not now, when?’ promises ‘Green New Deals’ for energy, housing, transport, industry, food farming and forestry and incomes.

The document promises an end to austerity, more funding for public services, restoration of the environment and making wellbeing the focus of the economy. Under the Greens, the UK would remain in the EU, helping it to lead the fight against the climate emergency and to improve the lives of workers, low income families and refugees.

Wasteful spending on "government vanity projects", like HS2 and a third runway for Heathrow, would be ended and taxes made more progressive. Funding to councils would increase by £10bn a year and powers devolved to councils, to improve frontline services. 

The manifesto promises to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2030 and to "provide new opportunities for everyone to live happier and more secure lives". There would be an overall investment of £100bn a year in a Green New Deal, overseen by a Carbon Chancellor at 11 Downing Street, and an additional investment in a Universal Basic Income.

Housing

The party would ensure the provision of 100,000 new council homes a year, built to the Passivhaus standard, or equivalent, incentivising local authorities to "spread small developments across their areas, rather than building huge new estates".

Brownfield Development Festival 2020

Changes to the planning system would incentivise the renovation, extension and improvement of existing buildings, rather than relying on new build. Energy efficiency and the elimination of fuel poverty would become national infrastructure priorities, with the extra insulation of every UK home that needs it by 2030. 

Ten million homes would be able to generate their own renewable energy by 2030. All new buildings provided by private developers would be built to the Passivhaus standard or equivalent.

Councils would set planning fees locally. The manifesto says: "Tax payers are subsidising developers for the costs of their planning applications to the tune of £200m a year." They would be able to charge developers for "land banking". 

Transport

The building of all new runways and all increased road capacity would be banned and the sale of new petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles ended by 2030. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20 mph speed limits would become the norm in residential areas.

All railways would be brought back into public ownership over ten years. A government-owned rolling stock company would invest in a fleet of new electric trains to run on newly electrified lines. Good railway connections with ports would be ensured. Short-distance passenger rail franchises would be given to councils. New rail connections and re-opened stations would increase rail capacity. These improvements, says the manifesto, would benefit from funding being switched from HS2, which would be cancelled. 

There would be £2.5bn a year investment in new cycleways and footpaths, built using sustainable materials. Local authorities would be given control of bus services.

Food, Farming & Forestry

A new Land Commission would investigate the effects concentrated land ownership is having on food and farming systems, housing, local economies, cultures and livelihoods. A Land Value Tax would ensure that all land is taxed fairly.

A ten-year transition to agroecological farming would be facilitated, including grants for the replacement of high-emitting carbon farming machinery with low carbon machinery. By 2030, 700 million new trees would be planted  and 50% of all farms be engaged in agroforestry. A 50% reduction in pesticide and fungicide would be made by 2022. All non-agricultural uses of pesticides would be phased out and them most dangerous pesticides banned.

Apple, nut and other crop trees would be planted in cities. Hedgerows lost in the last 50 years would be re-planted through new subsidies.

Environmentally friendly flood management would be encourage to protect communities, including tree planning and soil restoration in upland catchment area. Urban food growing would be encouraged through new community farms and allotments, through the planning system.

Energy

The planning system would be transformed to support a massive increase in wind power and other renewable generation, providing "much of" the UK’s energy supply by 2030.

There would be no subsidies to the oil and gas industries, a carbon tax would be imposed on all fossil fuel imports and a UK extraction tax based on greenhouse gas emissions 

Construction of nuclear power stations would prohibited. Energy efficiency training would be provided for businesses and public bodies. Fracking would be banned.

Brexit party

The Brexit party’s election pledges are laid out in a 21-page Contract With The People. The party says that having left the EU, the UK would benefit from a £30bn boost from saving the annual UK contribution to the EU and the European Investment Bank and an additional £200bn from scrapping the HS2 and by redirecting 50% of the foreign aid budget (£40bn over five years).

The party promises to introduce a £50bn investment in road and rail schemes for "development-starved regions" which would also benefit from free domestic broadband.

Planning consent for development on brownfield land would be simplified and changes to the funding model make it easier for councils to borrow from central government to build council houses. The party would accelerate infrastructure grants funding and allow developments to be approved including a lower percentage of affordable housing.

A million trees would be planted to capture CO2. It would be illegal for waste to be exported burnt, buried or dumped at sea. Specific investment of £2.5bn is promised for fishing and coastal communities and the document states that a post-Brexit 321 km exclusive economic zone around the coast would create regeneration opportunities.

The party would keep the NHS but abolish inheritance tax, cut VAT on fuel bills and waive corporation tax on the first £10,000 of profits. It would scrap business rates for shops outside London, funded by a "small online sales tax".

Civil servants would have to sign an oath of political neutrality. A ‘Citizens' Initiative’ would trigger a referendum if more than five million people called for a public vote on a particular issue.

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