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Portsmouth MP welcomes ‘step in the right direction’ on sewage pollution

Stephen Morgan MP backs the ‘Storm Overflow Taskforce’ proposed actions to help reduce sewage pollution but says ‘more must be done’

Ahead of a meeting with Southern Water today, the Portsmouth South representative welcomed the Storm Overflow Taskforce’s announcement that they aim to end the harm caused by Storm Overflows. The actions include a number of commitments made by water companies.

Storm overflows were designed to be used during extreme weather to prevent sewers becoming overloaded with a combination of sewage and rainwater, releasing diluted wastewater into rivers rather than letting it back up into people’s homes. However climate change has led to increased rainfall and water infrastructure has not kept pace with development growth over decades.

The task force has made the following recommendations:

  • to make real-time data on sewage discharges available at bathing sites all year-round
  • to publish on their website how many times they have used CSOs to pump raw sewage into the environment each year

Stephen Morgan MP met with Southern Water today to call on the water company to do more to tackle constituents concerns over discharges into Langstone Harbour and the Solent.

The company have committed to taking forward the feedback from the city MP, promising a string of actions to ensure improvements.

Following the meeting, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Sewage pollution in our community is a serious concern not just for local water users, but all Portsmouth residents.

I welcome the taskforce’s announcement as a step in the right direction, but I know my constituents will demand further and faster action. That is why it was important to meet with Southern Water today to discuss this and other concerns in my postbag. It is reassuring our local water company rightly recognised there is more they can do.

I will be keeping a close eye on their plans, holding the Government and water companies to account, so we finally see much-needed action to tackle the long-term causes of sewage pollution”.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce was set up in August 2020 to bring together water companies, regulators and environmental NGOs to accelerate progress in this area, building on work already underway to improve our rivers and waterways.

Its work covers a series of short, medium and long-term actions focused on the goal to eliminate harm from storm overflows – a generational endeavour that will involve significant change and take time to achieve.

The city MP has vowed to continue campaigning on this alongside Surfers Against Sewage and other community activists.

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Stephen Morgan MP calls for the Government to reverse lifting ban on bee-killing pesticides

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has today called for the Government to reverse its decision to lift the ban on bee-killing pesticides, known as neonicotinoids. This pesticide is seriously harmful to Britain’s dwindling bee populations and will further damage biodiversity.

Stephen Morgan MP also accuses the Government of rolling back on commitments made to uphold the ban by previous Environment Secretary, Michael Gove. He pledged to uphold the ban on neonicotinoids in 2017.

At the time Michael Gove, said: “The weight of evidence now shows the risks neonicotinoids pose to our environment, particularly to the bees and other pollinators which play such a key part in our £100bn food industry, is greater than previously understood … We cannot afford to put our pollinator populations at risk.”

He also said: “Unless the evidence base changes again, the Government will keep these restrictions in place after we have left the EU.”

The city MP is concerned that this is a worrying indication of the Government rolling back other hard-won environmental gains after Britain has left the EU, which would be a breaking their manifesto commitment on environmental protections which states that during trade negotiations they will “not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”

Furthermore, just only yesterday there were reports that Britain will continue to allow plastic waste to be exported to developing countries. This would be breaking another Conservative manifesto commitment on banning the practice.

Luke Pollard, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has written to the government to urge him to reverse lifting the ban and for this to be scrutinised by MPs with a vote in Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I’m concerned about bee populations in our community. I know from constituents that protecting biodiversity is a top priority for people in Portsmouth.

“We have lost too many bees and if bee-killing chemicals are allowed to be used again I worry that we will lose even more.

“I was elected on a manifesto to protect bees that is why I am calling for a vote on the Government’s plans to permit bee-killing chemicals to be used.

“I will be strongly opposing this plan to protect our local bee population.”

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary added:

“Bee health is non-negotiable. The ban on bee-killing pesticides must remain in place to protect our natural environment. Labour is demanding a vote in Parliament on the Government’s plan to allow bee-killing pesticides.

“Labour supports our farmers but ending this ban is not the solution to tackle crop blight.”

 

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Portsmouth MP speaks up for residents against AQUIND at official planning hearing

Stephen Morgan MP today gave evidence to the Planning Inspectorate raising local residents’ concerns over the controversial AQUIND Interconnector Project that the government has deemed a ‘nationally significant infrastructure project.’

Local people, city businesses, and the city council have continually raised their fears that the project could cause major disruption to the city’s people, businesses and its wider environment.

The Portsmouth South representative has been taking action on this local issue since concerns were first raised with him in 2018.

This has included lobbying Ministers directly, submitting parliamentary questions, liaising with council officers, meeting the applicant and supporting grassroots campaigns.

The project is scheduled to take up to seven years to complete, with some constituents also troubled by reports of the applicant’s previous donations to the Conservative Party, and concerns about the project company’s financial and domiciliary arrangements.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented,

“I stand squarely behind the residents of our city that oppose plans for the AQUIND Interconnector Project.

“Portsmouth people are working together to highlight our city’s concerns over this project that will only bring major disruption to our people, businesses and local green spaces.

“Today I took the opportunity of the official hearing by the examining authority to make sure our views are heard by the Planning Inspectorate and stand up for constituents on this concerning development”.

The parliamentary representative has also today written to the Government again urging the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma MP, to take on board objections from Portsmouth.

Mr Morgan, added,

“The government must listen to the concerns of Portsmouth people on this national project.

“With the final decision for these proposals resting with Government we cannot rest on our laurels and just share objections with the Planning Inspectorate.

“I will now be taking this further and raising it with the Business Secretary again. Local concerns on this project must be heard in Westminster.”

Stephen Morgan MP has regularly taken action to amplify the voices of local residents who are concerned by the AQUIND Interconnector Project. He is working with, and supporting the Lets Stop AQUIND campaign group led by local residents Viola Langley and Paula Ann Savage.

Earlier this year, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South joined local activists in Milton for a protest against Aquind.

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Stephen Morgan MP speaks up for residents at Hearing on AQUIND

This morning (15 December 2020) Stephen Morgan MP represented constituents at a hearing of the Examining Authority of the AQUIND development, sharing concerns raised by local people, city businesses and other objectors to the national infrastructure project. 

The transcript of what the Portsmouth South MP said objecting to proposals can be found below:

I am grateful to the Examining Authority for providing this opportunity for me to represent the views of my constituents on the AQUIND development.

Since 2018 I have been listening and representing concerns of local people on this development.

I have responded to dozens and dozens of emails, messages and letters, canvassed resident’s views through survey work, met the applicant on a number of occasions and attended a public consultation.

I have since submitted formal evidence to the Examining Authority and the applicant, have written separately to Ministers and submitted parliamentary questions on this important matter for my constituents.

Today I want to reiterate resident’s concerns, as well as those of the City Council, and formally place the objection of my constituents on record for the Examining Authority.

The construction of the proposed interconnector would take up to seven years and will cause untold damage and disruption to people, businesses and our environment in Portsmouth.

The proposed corridor where trenching is due to take place threatens to disrupt key elements of transport infrastructure, including highways that act as vital arteries to our city.

The City Council believes that there will be significant disruption to residents – from noise to at anti-social hours to dust and loss of natural light – in a wide-ranging area from Farlington Avenue in the north down to Fort Cumberland Road in my constituency.

This has certainly been reinforced by those constituents I have spoken with.

This congestion and disruption will inevitably have a detrimental impact on local traders, who have already endured a year of lost revenue and unprecedented uncertainty.

It will also cause long-term disruption to Portsmouth’s valued open spaces, with the unmitigated loss of recreational space at Milton Common and Farlington Playing fields.

A season or more of play could also be lost at Farlington, Baffins and the University of Portsmouth, with few alternatives in the meantime.

In addition to the air pollution created by construction, there is a risk to our City’s precious wildlife at Milton Common.

I have raised before the threat the development poses to local allotments, which have been a lifeline for those who tend them, particularly during the pandemic.

As it stands, the planning applicant has been unable to demonstrate sufficiently to the people of Portsmouth and elected representatives any positive benefit that this scheme would bring to the City.

Throughout this process, there have been concerns about the transparency of the applicant and its apparent inability to disclose information necessary to fully assess the impact of the proposed development.

I am aware that changes have been made to the proposed route, but I know many remain concerned that more could be done to engage with those impacted by the construction and avoid the worst of its effects.

Constituents continue to be troubled by reports of the applicant’s previous donations to a political party, and concerns about the project company’s financial and domiciliary arrangements.

Whatever the apparent merits of this project may be at a national level, to ignore the overwhelmingly negative impact it would have on Portsmouth’s people, businesses and environment would be a dereliction of duty.

Ultimately, it is extremely disappointing that the decision on this proposal has been taken away from local planning authorities like the City Council, which would be much better able to reflect the views of local residents.

On behalf of residents across Portsmouth South, I would therefore like to record the objection of my constituents to this application.

I would urge you to ensure that the views raised by residents are given a strong hearing so that objections are heard loud and clear.

Thank you.”

Check against delivery.

 

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City MP hosts Labour’s Shadow Housing and Planning Minister

Stephen Morgan MP will be hosting the Shadow Housing and Planning Minister Mike Amesbury MP for a public online question and answer session on Monday 23 November at 7pm.

The online public meeting will focus on the Aquind plans, HMOs, proposed planning changes and the housing crisis, with a chance for attendees to share their ideas on topical issues and ask questions.

Members of the public are invited to register for the event online here.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“I’m really pleased to be able to be able to welcome the Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning to join this public meeting, addressing local concerns relating to planning and housing locally, as well the wider region and country.

“This will serve as a great opportunity for Portsmouth residents to share their concerns about both local and wider housing and planning issues.

“Government proposals will take decisions out of local hands while doing little to solve the housing crisis our city faces.”

 

 

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Lets Stop AQUIND poster

Portsmouth’s green and open spaces are precious. The AQUIND plans do nothing to benefit our city, only cause disruption to our environment and to our daily lives.

Show your opposition alongside Stephen by displaying a poster in your window.

To download Jane’s brilliant graphic, and print your own click the link below:

Poster

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City MP backs Surfers Against Sewage campaign to clean up our waters after Southern Water’s failings

Government has been slammed for its record on poor water quality of our rivers and inland waters and the impact of sewage pollution on precious wildlife and ecosystems, as well as on our health by Stephen Morgan MP.

New research has found that all of England’s rivers and lakes were required to have achieved good ecological status by 2015 but only 14% of rivers met this standard by 2019, with no progress made over the past four years.

Similarly, information as part of campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has found that sewage wastewater discharges by water companies into rivers have been found to account for damage to 36% of waterways. Water companies discharged raw sewage into rivers over 200,000 times last year.

Southern Water was also found this week to have failed to notify the public about “the majority” of its sewage spills this summer, putting thousands of swimmers and water users at risk.

Analysis by SAS found Southern Water did not alert the charity’s Safer Seas Service about all sewage overflows into bathing waters between 15 May and 30 September. Whereas last year the company issued 690 notifications of spills, this year only 78 alerts were sent to the SAS real-time alert system on pollution releases for water users.

Continuing to raise these concerns in Parliament following a meeting with local campaigners last month at Langstone Harbour last month, Stephen Morgan MP has backed the campaign by Surfers Against Sewage to clean up our waters.

The city MP said:

“People in Portsmouth are rightly shocked at the frequency of sewage discharges and the damage it does to some of our country’s most valued and delicate habitats. This latest information is of real concern to many of my constituents.

Regulation needs to be tightened to stop water companies using discharges as a day-to-day measure, when it was put in place for only the most extreme circumstances. Much more needs to be done to make our water clean enough for swimming and pollution-free for fish, birds, insects and mammals.

I have been taking a range of action on this and recently met with campaigners who have concerns over discharges into Langstone Harbour and The Solent. Liaising with Surfers Against Sewage I plan to put even further pressure on Government so that they finally listen”.

Fellow parliamentarian Philip Dunne MP has proposed the Sewage (Inland Waters) Bill which would place a duty on water companies to ensure untreated sewage is not discharged into waterways.

It was scheduled for a Second Reading debate on 13 November, but disappointingly this has been pushed back until 15 January 2021.

The MP has also tabled an amendment to the Environment Bill requiring water companies to address water quality and the impact of sewage discharges in their annual plans.

The Government has set up a new taskforce with the Environment Agency, Water UK and Ofwat to address the problem of sewage discharges from storm overflows.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Action by Ministers to date remains insufficient. Government must act urgently to restore and enhance our rivers, waterways and seawater.

In recent years, customers have faced rising water bills while those at the top of water companies have received multimillion-pound packages, huge bonuses and dividends. 

With the growing climate crisis, I believe we need a larger strategy to tackle current and future challenges for our water and sewerage system.

I know how important this issue is to Portsmouth people which is why I remain committed to working with local campaigners to take further action”.

To find out more about the campaign visit www.sas.org.uk/water-quality/

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Last chance for food standards as city MP backs British farmers

  • Labour MPs are pushing the Government yet again to adopt a legal guarantee that British animal welfare and environmental standards won’t be undercut in post-Brexit trade deals
  • Concerns that chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards could be sold in the UK after Brexit, putting many British farms at risk

Portsmouth South’s Member of Parliament Stephen Morgan MP is demanding the Government back British farmers and protect high UK animal welfare, environment and public health standards in food.

In the latest crunch vote on British food standards, MPs will decide on Wednesday whether to back British farmers and stop post-Brexit trade deals from allowing in imports of lower standard food to the UK like chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.

Fruit and wheat farming and other types of agriculture support over 48,000 jobs in the South East and produce £2.2 billion in income for the region each year, but analysts have warned that abandoning existing environmental, health and animal welfare standards could risk the viability of the sector.

Labour has joined the National Farmers Union, leading environmental and consumer organisations such as the RSPCA, National Trust and Which?, as well as celebrities Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks to fight this threat to British agriculture, with the party’s MPs voting again today to safeguard farming jobs and livelihoods.

The Government has said it won’t weaken food standards as part of a trade deal with the US or other countries with lower standards, but has made no legal commitment to guarantee this. Farming, environmental and consumer groups have been pressing Tory MPs for months to try and secure a guarantee, fearful that lower standard imports will undercut British farmers.

However, the Government is expected yet again to effectively vote out their own manifesto commitment from the Bill on Wednesday, after promising in 2019 that they wouldn’t compromise on high British standards in trade deals.

Commenting on the crunch vote, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“People in Portsmouth are passionate about animal welfare and quality British food, and they’re rightly worried about what might end up in our supermarkets and on our plates if the Government doesn’t make good on its promise to protect our high food standards.

“Nobody wants to see chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-treated beef in our city’s shops and restaurants, or hidden in food on our children’s plates in school, or served up in hospital.

“I won’t back down from the fight to protect our high British food standards and farmers.  That’s why I challenged Tory MPs again today to back Labour’s amendment to safeguard our high animal welfare, environmental and public health standards.”

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary added:

“It is beggars belief that South East Tory MPs will yet again breach their own manifesto pledge to vote against the interests of British farming on Wednesday.

“Fruit and wheat farming and other types of agriculture are vital to the economy of the South East, but allowing low-quality imports to flood our market could drive British farmers out of business. It’s not just Labour saying this – it’s the National Farmers Union, leading environmental groups and, according to Which?, 93 per cent of the British public.

“The Government needs to abandon this disastrous course and put into law the cast-iron guarantee that they’ll never allow trade deals to undermine the viability of British farming.”

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Together we can, and we will, stop AQUIND

Attending the against AQUIND human chain today in Milton, a Covid-safe protest organised by local people, city MP Stephen Morgan said:

In the week of clean air day, when the council withdrew crucial roads from a scheme to reduce dirty air and rowed back on its climate emergency commitment, it’s humbling to see so many Portsmouth people coming together to stop the AQUIND development. 

Portsmouth’s green and open spaces are precious. The developer’s plans do nothing to benefit our city, only cause disruption to our environment and to our daily lives. 

Thank you to the grassroots group that organised today’s event. Together we can, and we will, stop this”.

To find out more about the Portsmouth South MP’s long-running work helping residents oppose the AQUIND interconnector proposals click here.

 

 

 

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Crunch Day for Food Standards as City MP demands Government back British Farmers

  • Labour is pushing the Government to adopt a legal guarantee that British animal welfare and environmental standards won’t be undercut in post-Brexit trade deals
  • PM challenged to back a Labour amendment to safeguard high UK food standards in the Government’s new farming Bill 
  • Concerns that chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and food produced to lower animal welfare and environmental standards could be sold in the UK after Brexit undercutting British farmers

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP is demanding the Government back British farmers and protect high UK animal welfare, environment and public health standards in food. 

In a crunch day for British food standards, MPs will vote on Monday whether to accept a Labour amendment made to the Government’s Agriculture Bill which would stop post-Brexit trade deals from allowing in imports of lower standard food to the UK like chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.

The Government has said it won’t weaken food standards as part of a trade deal with the US or other countries with lower standards, but has made no legal commitment to guarantee this. Farming, environmental and consumer groups have been pressing Tory MPs for months to try and secure a guarantee, fearful that lower standard imports will undercut British farmers and standards.

The Government is expected to effectively vote out their own manifesto commitment from the Bill on Monday, after promising in 2019 that they wouldn’t compromise on high British standards in trade deals.

Commenting on the crunch vote, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“I know from my post bag people across Portsmouth are passionate about animal welfare, and they’re rightly worried about what might end up in our supermarkets and on our plates if the Government doesn’t make good on its promise to protect our high food standards. Nobody wants to see Trumps’ chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef in our city’s shops and restaurants.

I won’t back down from the fight to protect our high British food standards and farmers, and will be pressing the Government on Monday to back Labour’s amendment to safeguard our high animal welfare, environmental and public health standards in UK food.”

Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary added:

The Government have said they back our British standards and farmers – it’s time to put their money where their mouth is. Ministers keep promising they’ll maintain high animal welfare and environmental standards after Brexit, but there’s still a serious threat that they will drop that promise to get the trade deals they’re so desperate to secure with Donald Trump and others.

“If the Government are serious about maintaining our high UK standards post-Brexit they should get a guarantee in law, and support Labour’s amendment on Monday to safeguard our standards and back British farmers.

To vote out their own manifesto commitment to protect food standards from their flagship food and agriculture Bill is absurd.”