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UKIP

UKIP Wales published their manifesto on the 15 April 2016. Please see the main points that relate to planning and the built environment below. Read the full document here.

Governance

UKIP pledges to: involve Welsh Westminster MPs in pre-legislative scrutiny of legislation prior to its formal passage through the Welsh Assembly, at least until their numbers are reduced invite all Welsh councils to appoint one or two councillors to a panel whose members would be available to assist Assembly Committees in oversight of Welsh ministers and government, thus promote devolution to local councils and communities devolve power from Cardiff Bay to local councils, e.g. over economic development

Local Government

UKIP pledges to: devolve important decision-making powers from Cardiff Bay to local authorities dismantle the 'cabinet' system of governance, which puts too much power in the hands of too few people, and introduce a committee system to bring openness, transparency and cross-party work ensure that any mergers of local councils are the result of bottom-up decisions involving local people, rather than top-down imposition by the Welsh government

The Cardiff Bay establishment wishes to reduce the number of councillors. This is, in part, to justify funding an extra 20-40 (or even more) AMs. UKIP believes that this demonstrates centralising instincts. We oppose a large cut in the number of councillors on the grounds that we do not wish to see an erosion of local democratic accountability. Furthermore, our policy is to devolve more power to local authorities. Maintaining adequate numbers of members will be necessary to make that work and ensure sufficient scrutiny capacity in local government.

UKIP opposes the Labour government's proposed top-down reduction of local government to 8 or 9 authorities. Though we accept that 22 authorities may be too numerous, the evidence is that any significant savings would not be made until much further down the line, since the cost of redundancy payouts and other re-structuring costs would be considerable. UKIP supports devolution of power to local authorities, with all the implications for increased scrutiny that that entails, so we do not support any large cut in the number of councillors Some reduction in the number of local councils may be appropriate, but not on the scale currently proposed, and any mergers should be supported and approved by local people give local people control over planning, by allowing them the final say on major planning decisions, such as out-of-town large-scale supermarket developments, wind turbines, incinerators, solar farms and major housing developments, through the use of binding local referenda oppose excessive development and actively seek to protect our countryside and green spaces

Planning

A growing number of communities across Wales have been denied the right to have their views on development considered by the Local Development Plan (LDP) inspector. It is possible for submissions into which residents have invested a great deal of time and effort not even to be looked at, and just to be logged and catalogued as received.

UKIP believes that democracy is seriously undermined when landowners and developers are able to invoke national planning guidelines on matters such as housing land supply to pre-empt the right of communities to have their objections to LDP development fully considered by the independent inspector.

Whilst Welsh Government planning guidelines provide such opportunities, councils are reluctant to reject applications because of apprehensions about the financial cost of appeals. This creates a situation in which communities' rights for a proper independent hearing can be subverted by developers. UKIP believes this is a profound democratic deficit.

UKIP pledges to: appoint a new commissioner responsible for democratic accountability to ensure that public consultations conducted either by the Welsh Assembly or local councils are not worthless, misleading PR exercises. Responsibilities would include a remit to protect whistleblowers allow local people to call a binding referendum on planning applications that have a significant effect on their local community

Transport

Enforcing an entry charge of £6.60 for motorists and £19.80 for HGVs entering South Wales holds back the Welsh economy, discourages tourism and unnecessarily divides Wales from England.

The Welsh government estimated the cost of tolls to Wales as at least £107 million annually. The costs of paying the highest UK toll are likely to be far higher when all lost opportunities and indirect effects are taken into account.

UKIP will abolish the Severn bridge tolls within two years, when the current concession expires

  • Ongoing maintenance costs for the bridges, which we estimate as around £10 million annually, should be a matter for negotiation between the UK and Welsh governments
  • UKIP would fund any Welsh government maintenance contribution by axing the budget for climate change projects, which is soaring by over 50% from £48 million to £73 million this year

Tolls are currently applied by a French company that operates both Severn Bridges as a concession now due to expire by around the end of next year. There is no justification for continued tolling after the costs of building the southern bridge are thus repaid.

UKIP repudiates any notion that there is a further Severn Bridge 'debt' owed to the UK government for motorists to 'repay', recent claims for this by UK ministers having ranged from £64-88 million.

We note that the UK government wrote off a larger sum of £150 million for the Humber Bridge. Further, it promised not to charge VAT on the Severn tolls, yet was made to by EU law, yielding windfall revenue of £150-200 million.

M4 Relief Road

The M4 through South Wales clearly needs relief or improvement, most urgently at the pinch point approaching the Brynglas tunnels. However, UKIP disagrees with the current First Minister's plan to finance an M4 relief road through continuing tolls on the Severn bridges.

We also oppose the Welsh government's preferred 'Black route' M4 Relief Road due to its excessive £1 billion plus cost, the enormous damage it would cause to several Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), the likelihood that it would take a decade to build, and the fact that it would blow close to the entire Welsh capital budget on one project in South East Wales.

  • UKIP supports building an M4 Relief Road along the 'Blue route' promoted by Professor Stuart Cole, using Newport's Steelworks Road and upgrading stretches of the existing A48 to grade separated dual carriageway. expires
  • Building the 'Blue Route' M4 Relief Road should be started early in 2017 and completed during the Fifth Assembly
  • The cost, estimated as no more than £400 million, will leave £600 million of capital savings compared to current Welsh government plans
  • Such resources should be made available for substantial capital spending on major transport projects elsewhere in Wales

A key priority for the Welsh Assembly and government should be undertaking major road improvements across Wales. The fact that these are beyond the financial scope of local councils should not stop councils identifying key road projects for their area and receiving money to help build them.

UKIP will reallocate £600 million from the current Welsh government's 'Black route' M4 Relief Road plan to strategic roads projects elsewhere in Wales:

  • major investment in widening the most congested sections of the North Wales A55 artery, and measures to improve its resilience elsewhere
  • upgrading of the A470 and A483 north/south corridors, e.g. action on specific pinch points, regular overtaking lanes
  • further projects proposed by local councils
  • support motorists by improving journey time and reliability of our road network

Railways

UKIP obtained a debate in Parliament at the start of last year because we believed Network Rail was going off track. Its governance under a board of 50-100 people was simply not fit to oversee its multi-billion pound investment programme, including electrification of the Great Western and South Wales mainlines.

The rail minister assured us then there was no problem with the governance of Network Rail overseeing electrification, only to reverse the position after the general election and admit it was in crisis. The reality is that electrification to Swansea has been delayed to after 2019 and there is still no plan to electrify the North Wales mainline.

UKIP will:

  • press for speediest possible completion of electrification of the South Wales mainline to Swansea
  • support development of a South Wales metro system, but not at expense of self-standing projects which can be done now, e.g. extending Ebbw Vale line services to Abertillery and to Newport.
  • recognize that cost of transport is as important as speed or frequency of service
  • freeze rail fares across Wales for first two years of next franchise and cut fares by 10% on lines where electrification has been delayed, funded by the £73 million climate change projects budget
  • fund early stage scoping project for electrification of the North Wales mainline, to be undertaken by someone other than Network Rail
  • press ahead with development of a full interchange and single level station at Shotton to allow services from Wrexham and Bidston to connect onto the North Wales mainline
  • assess if demand justifies investment to re-establish the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth rail line by starting express coach service on the route integrated into the Wales railway map and timetable.

Air

We do not believe that government should own or operate airports. We opposed the Welsh government's decision to squander £52 million of Welsh taxpayers' money on buying Cardiff airport, a sum which even its own auditors have concluded was excessive.

UKIP will:

  • sell Cardiff airport as soon as possible to mitigate the loss to Welsh taxpayers so a new owner can operate it on a proper commercial basis

Cycling and Walking

Strategies to increase the use of cycling and walking as transport options are welcome, but should primarily be the responsibility of local councils.

UKIP will:

  • allow local councils to decide jointly with elected local health boards how best to spend public health and other relevant budgets to promote cycling and walking, particularly amongst children
  • end possible promotion of walking and cycling on the current M4 – cited in a study by the current government – as a criterion for preferring the 'black route' M4 relief road
  • take a zero tolerance attitude to dangerous cycling, e.g. jumping red lights and adults using pavements, and mandate use of cycle paths when available

Economic Development

UKIP supports devolving more powers and money from both UK and Welsh governments to Welsh local councils. It has taken far too long to get a Cardiff region 'city deal'. Devolution should not act as a block to further decentralization.

UKIP would:

  • champion any Welsh council that wants more powers, both by further devolving its own powers to councils and by pressing the UK government to do so as needed
  • support joint working between Welsh and English council areas which have close economic links, e.g. Newport and Bristol or Wrexham and Cheshire West and Chester.
  • devolve the budget and staff for economic development from Cathays Park in Cardiff to local councils across Wales. We would then place a statutory duty on local council to promote economic development – as proposed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Wales

Housing

There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in Wales. Many of those who would like to own their own home are simply unable to even contemplate it.

Although we are fully aware of the need to build more homes, UKIP will not allow new housing to strip our nation of prime agricultural land. Nor will we allow the countryside to be swamped by over-development.

UKIP will:

  • incentivise brownfield development
  • offer grants of up to £10,000 per unit to developers carrying out essential remediation work on brownfield sites.
  • identify long-term dormant land held by central and local government so it can be released for affordable developments
  • bring empty homes back into use

UKIP will encourage moves by local authorities to prioritise people with strong local connections when making housing allocations. We believe local communities should have a greater say over what happens in their locality.

We will:

  • free local authorities from government-imposed minimum housing numbers
  • reverse current policies of facilitating large-scale rural residential developments,
  • promote smaller 6-12 unit developments in rural areas to extend existing villages
  • encourage local authorities to require a proportion of self-build plots to be provided in
  • all large developments
  • allow large-scale developments to be overturned by a binding local referendum
  • triggered by the signatures of 5 per cent of electors within a planning authority area,
  • collected within three months.
  • reduce the cost and bureaucracy of planning applications by merging planning and
  • building control departments in local authorities
  • introduce a planning presumption outside town centres in favour of conversion to residential from office and retail use
  • generally resist new building regulations in Wales which will increase cost and complexity for developers and reduce housebuilding

Rural

UKIP recognises the benefit of best practice wildlife management in sustaining nationally important landscapes, increasing the water-carrying capacity of the land, in enhancing viable agricultural production and in delivering all year round habitat, food, water and protection for wildlife. Protecting the economic activities that provide these positive ecosystem services is at the heart of our policy.

UKIP pledges to:

  • oppose building projects on greenbelt areas, as currently happens via Local Development Plans
  • oppose unsightly wind farms
  • reinforce existing legislation to ensure that Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), together with EU designated Special Protection Areas for rare birds and Special Areas of Conservation for rare vegetation, are maintained under good management
  • review the selection criteria of the organisations and individuals who are paid to advise the Welsh Government on environmental matters
  • address the numerous social exclusion and societal problems created by a failing education system, by carefully crafting a National Work and Skills Service, to build new quality lives for large numbers of people.
  • review heather burning legislation in the expectation of increasing the safe use of this highly effective organic farming tool, along with the new very successful controlled cold burn and reseeding technologies, which greatly reduce the risk of damaging wild fires.

Our objective is to enable Wales to pride itself on its high quality, well managed heather and the benefits this gives to pollinators, a much greater variety of birds, mammals, plants and invertebrates, than on unmanaged moors. Wales has the potential to double the existing area of heather moorland. UKIP will support and encourage accreditation of well-managed land, and the current RSPB High Nature Value farming proposals.

Climate Change

The Welsh government is increasing spending on climate change projects from £48 million in 2015/16 to £73 million in 2016/17. This uplift of over 50% is a larger increase than for almost any other area of spending.

UKIP question whether such spending will have any material impact on the climate and we do not consider it to be affordable in light of other budgetary demands

  • axe the £73 million Welsh government budget for climate change projects
  • reallocate up to £5-10 million to finance any Welsh government contribution to the maintenance of the Severn bridges following abolition of the tolls
  • freeze rail fares across Wales for first two years of next franchise and cut fares by 10% on lines where electrification has been delayed

Water and Flood Defence

The EU has over-riding control of inland water management through the 2000 Water Framework Directive. Whilst acknowledging that we cannot control the great British weather and that extreme flooding events will undoubtedly happen, UKIP's approach is to adopt catchment specific management plans that engage landowners, local authorities, developers and residents in managing river water under normal and flood conditions.

A network of rivers, canals, ditches, sluices and pumping stations is already in existence. Many of these features are, at present, partially filled with silt or in disrepair and cannot function properly. UKIP will ensure that the relevant authorities keep these waterways clear of silt and maintain equipment properly and that this activity takes priority over concerns of lost natural habitats.

The Water Framework Directive does not ban dredging as is sometimes asserted; it merely wraps expensive red tape around the activity. Regular dredging takes place around the UK in key sites.

Silt enters rivers mainly due to the loosening of soil by human activity prior to heavy rainfall. This could be caused by agricultural cultivation and, or road and house building. Although uprooted trees on hillsides after severe gales and rainfall will also be a cause.

UKIP will:

  • allow dredging, and reduce the regulatory burden around it, while at the same time encouraging an approach which reduces the need to dredge rivers
  • ensure that in all catchments, management plans engage landowners to prevent silting of rivers through improved land management practices, such as 'min-till' or 'no-till' crop establishment techniques and the use of buffer strips, cover crops and the avoidance of growing maize on high-risk fields
  • encourage correct grazing of permanent grass on slopes to encourage root growth and anchorage of the grass
  • notify planning authorities that further development in flood plains will not be protected from flooding events with public money
  • allow only the use of 'brownfield sites' for new development: where these sites are adjacent to waterways or where there are no brownfield sites, developers will be expected to design and build houses that are resilient to flooding events
  • encourage land occupiers to ensure the safe discharge of water that arrives on their land and to provide incentives for them to get involved in engineering works such as 'washes' or earth dams, fitted with Hydro- Brakes or similar.

Coastal Protection

UKIP believes that the Welsh Assembly Government's National Strategy for Wales is inadequate.

The National Trust In Wales has warned that 66 coastal sites covering 1,572 hectares are at risk of flooding in the next 100 years. Thousands of people living on the coast could see the value of their homes fall as the Welsh government agrees to stop defending some properties from the sea.

Internationally-recognised sites which could be under threat include the Stackpole Estate in Pembrokeshire, Cemlyn Lagoon on Anglesey, dune systems on the Gower peninsula near Swansea and historic sea forts like Dinas Dinlle in Gwynedd. Beaches including Marloes in Pembrokeshire may disappear and coastal footpaths will need to be moved inland.

The Welsh Government has decided that it will no longer maintain defences in 48 areas. This puts 1,300 homes at risk of being lost. Under Shoreline Management plans, the Welsh Government intends to let Welsh coastal areas flood, for example, in Porthcawl and Newton, by not investing money to save them.

In the meantime, courtesy of our EU-led commitment to spending 0.7 % on foreign aid, British taxpayers have given a well-off Serbian city £1million for new flood defences.

Over the next five years the UK Government will spent £5.8 billion in aid on projects abroad ranging from fighting flood damage to disaster insurance plans.

In the event of our leaving the EU, UKIP believes we should invest some of the money made available in Welsh flood defences. We will not abandon those who may now lose their homes and life savings because of the Welsh Government's decision to give up on appropriate sea defences.

UKIP will:

  • provide help for people and communities to defend homes and public buildings, such as hospitals, from coastal and river flooding
  • prevent new building on flood plains
  • encourage the storing of water in uplands through full river system management – including wetland restoration, natural regeneration, allowing rivers to meander and flood upstream
  • if the UK votes to leave the EU, we will redeploy funds directed at flood prevention overseas to the UK with a substantial share for Wales in proportion to the length of our coastline

Marine Protection

UKIP will:

  • support the full devolution from the EU of all control over fisheries and marine protection to the Welsh Assembly, in the event of exit from the European Union.
  • implement marine planning based on the 'ecosystem approach', ensuring the sustainable development of our seas and the protection of species and habitats 

Culture and Heritage

UKIP will:

  • ensure that our Welsh cultural and historical heritage is able to thrive.
  • protect national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, but allow a right of appeal to the Welsh government against planning decisions of national park authorities
  • oppose building projects on greenbelt areas, as is currently done via Local Development Plans
  • create rural conservation areas to protect our market towns and scenic countryside
  • introduce a 'presumption in favour of conservation' into planning legislation
  • encourage regeneration in fading coastal towns through 'Seaside Town Status' designation 

Welsh Language

The Welsh Language is a source of great National pride. UKIP will support the use of the Welsh language in everyday life in Wales, ensuring that Welsh is accessible in all aspects of Welsh life. We want users to feel comfortable choosing Welsh.

In education, business and in public life and in social use the Welsh language is thriving and growing. UKIP will commit to protecting and promoting the Welsh language through Welshmedium education, ensuring the language continues to flourish for future generations.

UKIP is committed to ensuring the Welsh language is a 'living' language, one which thrives in everyday use across our country.

  • ensure Welsh public services are accessible to people through the medium of Welsh
  • ensure funding for new affordable homes in Wales as a way of strengthening communities and thereby the future of the Welsh language. 

Our Welsh heritage tells the fascinating story of our past, but also makes an important contribution to our economy through tourism, and both must equally be recognised as we protect and preserve our ancient buildings and monuments. The responsibility to do so falls to Wales as a nation, so those who act as custodians must be held to account by the Welsh people.

Ancient monuments and historic buildings are also very often key features of their local communities. However, Cadw too often cuts them apart from their local communities by making them difficult to access, as seen by the absurdly high charges Cadw levies on community groups who wish to hold events in the grounds of Caerphilly castle.

UKIP believes that Cadw has been found wanting in its responsibilities to the Welsh people and we do not believe that an unaccountable quango is the right model.

UKIP will:

  • wind-up the functions of Cadw and seek its complete abolition within two years
  • devolve ownership of its properties to the council for the area in which they are situated, except where the council instead identifies an appropriate alternative trust or community group
  • transfer responsibility for promoting ancient monuments and historic buildings to Visit Wales
  • requirements for heritage advice will be outsourced on a competitive basis, including transfer of relevant Cadw staff where appropriate
  • provide direct grants for the maintenance of ancient monuments and historic buildings • use a partnership approach to preserve our heritage for the good of Wales and visitors, but also for use as living facilities by local people and communities
  • support zero rate VAT on repairs to historic churches and listed buildings

Tourism

UKIP will:

  • invest in tourism infrastructure, including train, bus, air and other public transport networks
  • leave planning powers with the National Park Authorities, which we support and believe have a good record generally in preserving our superb landscape across more than a fifth of Wales, but institute a planning right of appeal to the Welsh government against their decisions
  • encourage regeneration in fading coastal towns through 'Seaside Town Status' designation 

Sport and Recreation

UKIP strongly believes that sport plays an important part, not only in improving health and tackling obesity, but in helping social cohesion and mental wellbeing, as well as promoting economic development and tourism.

  • reclaim where possible derelict land to improve sporting facilities in deprived areas
  • oppose building on playing fields and recreational grounds arising from Local Development Plans