Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District is calling on candidates in the 2024 General Election to champion the landscape and environment.  

The Manifesto for Cumbria’s Landscapes calls on the new government to commit to delivering on six demands covering areas such as water, local housing, nature friendly farming and the impact of tourism on the area. The six demands were formulated following feedback from Friends of the Lake District members and input from partner organisations such as the Countryside Charity CPRE and the Campaign for National Parks.

Michael Hill, Chief Executive of Friends of the Lake District said: “We believe that a healthy landscape delivers multiple benefits for people, nature and climate and that’s why we’re asking politicians from all parties to sign up to our manifesto today and commit to securing and enhancing the wonderful landscapes of the Lake District and Cumbria.

“We have made these demands as we believe the incoming government must address these issues urgently, be it sewage in Windermere or the impact that large numbers of visitors have on the environment, communities and infrastructure of the area.”

The six demands are:

Restore nature to full health: We need a New Deal for Nature for protected landscapes. Protecting and restoring nature should be a top priority in national parks like the Lake District, and funding for the Lake District National Park authority should be doubled to achieve this. 

Local homes for local people: There should be a new compulsory planning requirement for ‘change of use’ consent for second homes and holiday lets, to control the loss of housing stock. All new housing in rural areas should be truly affordable, and suited to the needs of local people. 

Offset the ‘invisible burden’ of tourism by charging visitors: Introduce a socially fair charging mechanism for some forms of tourism to the Lake District, to address their hidden costs to the environment, communities and infrastructure, and to improve public transport. 

Save Cumbria’s lakes: End all sewage discharges into still waters, starting with Windermere, and restore funding to the Environment Agency so it can hold water companies to account.

Fight climate change with sunshine: Make rooftop solar a standard requirement for new buildings, both commercial and residential. Offer incentives for solar on existing buildings, such as agricultural barns.  

A fair deal for nature-friendly farmers: Double the budget for nature-friendly farming, and re-introduce the requirement for farmers to comply with basic ecological standards (cross-compliance). 

The full manifesto can be found here: 

Friends of the Lake District, which celebrates its 90th birthday this year, will be following up the release of their manifesto with an election hustings event held in Ambleside on Monday 24 June. Candidates in the 2024 election will be invited to take questions about landscape and the environment from the audience. More details about this event will be available on the Friends of the Lake District website soon.