The Conservative Environment Network (CEN) has published a new manifesto containing a series of policies to tackle the global environmental crisis, including introducing a fertiliser and pesticide tax and abolishing business rate relief for farmers.
The document – backed by 41 MPs – also hits out at ‘factory farming’, urges people to eat less meat and pushes for the reintroduction of native species, including the lynx.
Defra Secretary Michael Gove and Tory leadership candidate Boris Johnson spoke at the launch of the manifesto last week, while the second man still vying for the keys to Number 10, Jeremy Hunt, submitted a statement.
The document said Government should: “Tax fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides at the point of production.
“These products are all easily identified and charged. Artificial fertilisers would become much more expensive, with a price which reflects the carbon produced in making them – which is a very energy intensive process – and the damage done to waterways, flora, fauna and soils.
“Farmers would be encouraged to change their operating plans to work with nature, rather than against it, using crop rotation, mixed farming and soil husbandry to improve productivity.”
To cut meat consumption, CEN suggested the UK should diverge from proposed EU legislation to ban meat-related wording for vegetable-based food products, such as ‘veggie burger’ or ‘soya milk’, and called for vegetarian products to be placed next to their meat counterparts on shop shelves, with supermarkets encouraging consumers to choose the plant-based option.
The manifesto was published shortly after Compassion in World Farming called for a tax on inputs.
Charity People Need Nature (PNN) has also recently pressed for the entire taxation system to be reformed to make farmers’ tax breaks more eco-friendly.
In its report, PNN suggested the 80 per cent rebate on red diesel should be abolished.
Dieter Helm, Government adviser and chair of the Natural Capital Committee, joined the charity in taking aim at red diesel relief at a net zero conference hosted by the Sustainable Food Trust and NFU last week (July 5).
“Why should you have subsidised diesel in a zero carbon world?” said Prof Helm.
“You cannot have cheap red diesel and pretend you are going to have net zero in 2040. You have got to be in favour of a common price for fuel.”