Skip to content

Our analysis of the Liberal Democrat manifesto

Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto 

The Liberal Democrats were first off the blocks as a major party publishing its general election manifesto, outlining policies aimed at enhancing the quality of life in rural communities across the UK. Proposals with especial rural relevance focus on the natural environment, crime and policing, food and farming, animal welfare, housing, local governance and transport. 

The Countryside Alliance has already expressed concern with its pledge to ban what it terms the ‘routine’ burning of heather on peatland. It is not at all clear what ‘routine’ means in this context. Science and evidence make it clear that seasonal, rotational burning is essential for promoting new growth and combating the risk of wildfire; it is essential that the detail of any such policy allows this activity to remain viable. 

Otherwise, here is what the manifesto had to say about the full range of rural issues. 


Natural Environment: Key policies include significantly increasing accessible green spaces, protecting up to a million acres, completing the coastal path and exploring a 'right to roam' for waterways. Riparian landowners will be keen to ensure such rights do not interfere with their legitimate interests, including their waterway management duties. In addition to the ban on ‘routine’ heather burning the party also commits to restoring peatlands and progressing with the existing planned ban on horticultural peat usage. 

Crime and Policing: The party aims to replace Police and Crime Commissioners with local Police Boards made up of councillors and community representatives, redirecting claimed savings to frontline policing. It also plans to introduce laws to combat puppy and kitten smuggling. 

Food and Farming: The manifesto emphasises “public money for public goods” programs, encouraging farmers to engage in nature recovery and wildlife protection. It advocates for investment in rural infrastructure, including local abattoirs, and promotes local, sustainable food production. The party intends to renegotiate trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand to uphold high environmental and animal welfare standards and introduce clear food labelling. 

Animal Welfare: The party commits to passing a comprehensive Animal Welfare Bill to ensure high standards, banning the sale of products such as foie gras that could not be produced in the UK, and investing in humane bovine tuberculosis control methods, including vaccine development; there is no explicit commitment to end badger culling. It also aims to ban the use of cages for hens and other farming practices it regards as unnecessarily painful. 

Housing: The manifesto includes plans to expand Neighbourhood Planning, build ten new garden cities and allow councils to buy land at current use value. It seeks to improve planning outcomes, expand rural housing and trial Community Land Auctions. It plans financial incentives to develop brownfield sites, and grant local authorities new powers to control second homes and short-term lets. 

Communities and Local Government: The party seeks to decentralize decision-making, appoint a cross-departmental Minister for Rural Communities and enhance local authorities' powers over community assets. It proposes supporting community post offices, establishing a Strategic Small Surgeries Fund for rural GPs and restoring rural bus routes. 

Transport: The party aims to facilitate electric vehicle charging by expanding charging points and upgrading the National Grid. It also proposes cutting VAT on public charging and protecting motorists from unfair insurance and fuel prices. To boost rural mobility it supports maintaining the £2 cap on bus fares, integrating funding for local authorities to expand zero-emission bus services, and encouraging alternatives to conventional bus services. 

The Countryside Alliance will review and communicate the rural impacts of all major parties’ manifestos, setting the agenda on rural policy through the general election and beyond. To support our work, please consider joining the Countryside Alliance today. 



Become a member

Join the Countryside Alliance

We are the most effective campaigning organisation in the countryside.