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Lib Dems pledge £1bn boost to sustainable farming schemes in rural offer

The party is also driving home its commitment to tackling the ‘national sewage scandal’ with a raft of pledges to clean up rivers and seas.

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The Lib Dems have pledged an extra £1 billion a year for nature-friendly farming schemes and to ensure future trade deals meet UK food standards as they seek to appeal to rural voters.

The Liberal Democrat also focus on the “national sewage scandal” which has prompted widespread public concern in recent months, as part of an election manifesto containing a raft of environmental measures.

The party is pledging to transform water companies into “public benefit  companies”, ban bonuses for bosses until leaks end, introduce a “sewage tax” on company profits and give local environmental groups a place on boards.

Farming stock
The Lib Dems’ manifesto attacks the Conservatives’ moves away from EU-era farm subsidies (James Manning/PA)

As the party positions itself as the alternative to the Tories in many rural constituencies, the manifesto also attacks the Conservatives’ “botched” moves away from EU-era farm subsidies and post-Brexit trading arrangements.

So there is an extra £1 billion a year for the environmental land management (Elm) schemes, while the manifesto says it will support farmers “properly” to restore woodland, peatland and waterways, including creating natural flood protections, boosting wildlife and storing carbon while producing food.

For farmers there is also a pledge to maintain high welfare and environmental standards and ensure future trade deals have to meet them, so that British producers are not being put at an unfair disadvantage.

And the Lib Dems are pledging to negotiate “comprehensive veterinary and plant health agreements” to give farmers the ability to trade with EU countries with minimal need for checks.

They say they want to ban the use of horticultural peat and the routine burning of heather on peatlands and protect the country’s temperate rainforest as part of efforts to use nature to help tackle climate change.

Climate measures also include a 10-year emergency upgrade programme for homes, with free insulation and heat pumps for low income families, investing so renewables generate 90% of UK power by 2030 and bringing overseas aid back to 0.7% of national income with a focus on climate change.

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