COLUMN MP: Environmental issues at the top of the list


ENVIRONMENTAL issues feature high on the agenda of many local groups (and of course mine, not only as a local MP but also as Defra’s Environment Minister), so I was delighted to recently participated in the Somerset Youth Parliament Climate Emergency Strategy event to speak about the government’s commitment to net zero, moving us to a circular economy, cleaner air and water, and introducing the new environmental land management program for our hard-working farmers.

The group wanted to get involved whether it was planting trees or encouraging recycling and it was so encouraging to see their enthusiasm. I was able to report on the pre-launch of the COP26 that I had just spoken about ahead of the actual event which will start on November 2 in Glasgow, where I will be involved in the nature-based adaptation approach to combat the climate change. I will also move the environmental bill forward through Parliament next week.

Locally, I am engaged in finding solutions to the current problem of phosphate pollution which is negatively affecting our protected landscape in the Somerset Levels. I realize that this causes difficulties for many and have worked with all interested parties to find solutions that will unlock planning permission, enable sustainable development, agricultural activities and protect our precious waterways and nutrient pollution landscapes. Progress is being made on short term solutions, but it is important to determine a long term strategy.

I am also continuing dialogue with National Highways regarding the A358 upgrade. The statutory consultation for the Taunton to Southfields Dualling Scheme is open until Monday 22 November. It was a long time coming, was in great demand, I played a decisive role in carrying out an unprecedented second consultation to adjust the proposed route.

I also chaired the last meeting of our Devon and Somerset Rail group, reporting on my meeting with the Chancellor to advocate for the progression of the proposed station in Wellington to the next step with the funding that will require.

Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane


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