National manifestos target green space and communities

A national play strategy and central orchard along with harsh new laws to stop garden-grabbing and dog fouling were some of the election promises made to Scottish and Welsh voters this week.

Unlike the local elections in England, voters for the devolved governments are being wooed with national manifesto vows on parks, trees and allotments.

The Scottish Labour Party punted the idea of a national play strategy, insisting that "playgrounds were as important as schools". It said it would promote traffic-free zones, improved play areas in parks and better sports pitches.

It also pledged to help communities turn derelict land into green spaces and create allotments and community gardens to promote affordable local food.

The Scottish Conservatives promised special protection for regional parks and said they would help people turn disused publicly-owned land into allotments. An online matching service would create gardening co-ops.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said they would protect forests and peatlands, run a tree-planting strategy and use "fairer" pricing to break supermarket power monopolies over producers.

The Scottish National Party would look at creating new national parks, would plant 100m trees and keep the Forestry Commission publicly owned.

In Wales, the Welsh Conservatives would launch guidance to make planners more open to sustainable development and close a loophole that allowed garden-grabbing.

Welsh Labour said it would improve access to land, create an All Wales Coast Path and enforce a duty to provide cycle routes in key areas. New laws would set amounts of land to be turned into allotments and safeguard protected landscapes.

Plaid Cymru promised to continue to protect playing fields and create more paths and cycle routes around towns. A Nature for People programme would pay for biodiversity projects and there would be more allotments and spending for 100,000ha of new woods.

The Welsh Lib Dems would restrict garden-grabbing by designating gardens as greenfield sites, create a new listing status for green areas and a "natural park" status for protection and regeneration. Locals would elect national park boards and manage woods.

The main parties in Northern Ireland did not publish manifestos on their websites or could not be contacted and the Liberal Democrats do not contest elections in the country. But Sinn Fein said it would tackle dereliction and develop the agri-food sector. The Ulster Unionist Party was committed to an advisory board for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and to conserving wildlife.


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