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City MP blasts ‘shocking complacency’ from Ministers and City Council as new map reveals Portsmouth’s polluted homes

Stephen Morgan has criticised ‘shocking complacency’ on air pollution after a new dirty air map revealed Portsmouth has one of the highest proportions of polluted homes in the UK.

According to the map, produced by the non-profit group the Central Office of Public Interest (Copi) and Imperial College London, reveals that more than a third of Portsmouth homes endure the highest pollution levels. This is the most outside of Slough and London.

Nationally, more than 97% of addresses exceed WHO limits for at least one of three key pollutants, while 70% of addresses breach limits for all three.

In 2020, the Liberal Democrats on Portsmouth City Council faced criticism for shirking the size of their proposed clean air zone, creating a ‘corridor of air pollution’ through the City.

Mr Morgan repeatedly backed amendments to the Environment Bill in the Commons that would have set air quality targets in line with WHO recommendations. But Conservative Ministers refused to support them.

Air pollution can cause asthma, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer. There is also emerging evidence it contributed to dementia and diabetes. In 2013 a landmark coroner’s ruling cited air pollution as a cause of death for a nine year old girl in south London.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Air pollution is an invisible killer but Lib Dems running the council and Tories in Government have shown shocking complacency as the climate crisis deepens.

“Our densely populated city is now exposed to dangerous levels of dirty air because those in power haven’t done enough, as this independent report reveals.

“It was Labour that called the climate emergency in our city back in 2019. It’s well beyond time that further action is taken to tackle dirty air in Portsmouth. I will continue to campaign vocally to clean up our air, in our city and across the country. It’s what our communities deserve”.

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Portsmouth MP tours New Forest farm with NFU on work to support local people

Stephen Morgan MP has met National Farmers’ Union (NFU) representatives and the region’s farmers at a New Forest farm to learn more about how the agricultural sector is supporting our city’s communities.

During the visit, the Portsmouth representative discussed concerns over food security, ensuring a workforce to pick crops and land management in a roundtable with the NFU and local farmers.

In Portsmouth South alone, this year residents will eat an estimated:

  • 12.3 million eggs
  • 10.7 million litres of milk
  • 3,063 tonnes of bread

It comes as recent workforce shortages highlighted sensitivities around food supply chains, including ongoing workforce shortages in the food and farming sectors in picking, packing, processing and distributing food.

Agricultural workers played a critical role in keeping supply-chains running during the pandemic and restrictions, and Mr Morgan took the opportunity to thank them for their efforts.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It’s been useful to meet with National Farming Union representatives and our region’s farmers, to learn more about the work they are doing to support our communities and keep us fed.

“Farmers went above and beyond to support us and keep food on the shelves during the height of the pandemic, so it’s only right they get the support that’s needed from Westminster as we recover.

“I look forward to working with the NFU to ensure our area’s farming community get the help they need to keep providing for Portsmouth families.”

According to the NFU, the UK’s current food self-sufficiency rate is hovering at about 60%. Labour has accused the government of being “far too complacent” on food security, saying it would look to increase the UK’s self-sufficiency.

Labour has said it would support farms to make, sell and buy more in Britain. This includes using public procurement to ensure that schools and hospitals buy local produce, encouraging more food to be grown in the region, and across the rest of the country.

The city MP added:

“The conflict in Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian tragedy and our nation’s attention is rightly focused on attempting to resolve the crisis.

“It has also reminded us of the need to tackle challenges with the global food market, from rising fuel prices pushing fertilizer costs up by as much as 400%, to both Russia and Ukraine accounting for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

“Like many other countries, the UK faces economy-wide disruption that could last for many years, including to our food output, our food supply chains and the availability and affordability of food to consumers.

“As an island nation, being able to grow enough food to feed a substantial proportion of our population is a key measure of food security and national resilience.

“That’s why I will be calling on Government to set out a clear plan to maintain confidence and stability across the UK’s food producing businesses, to protect working families and pensioners, and keep Britain fed.”

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Portsmouth MP commends Portsmouth Water for its ‘vital’ service to the city

Stephen Morgan MP has commended the work of local water company Portsmouth Water for its ‘vital’ services it provides to the city.

Touring some of the water provider’s facilities today, the city MP received a briefing on some of the key challenges facing the company such as climate change and water resources management, as well as how Portsmouth Water is responding through innovation and collaboration.

Mr Morgan was also able learn more about Portsmouth Water’s Havant Thicket reservoir project and see first-hand full extent of its environmental preparation works.

The Portsmouth representative also had the opportunity to visit Portsmouth Water’s Farlington Water Treatment Works, which provides the majority of the water supply to the city of Portsmouth.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

Portsmouth Water provides vital services to residents across our city, so it was really useful to visit its facilities and see first-hand the work it is doing to serve our city.

“Protecting our local environment is crucial for the long-term sustainability of our city and surrounding area, so it is encouraging to learn about the work Portsmouth Water is doing to ensure that happens.

“I look to forward to seeing the benefits of Portsmouth Water’s innovative work to ensure everyone in the city gets the water they need in the most sustainable way possible.”

Bob Taylor, CEO, Portsmouth Water, also said:

“We were delighted to welcome Stephen Morgan to Portsmouth Water on Friday. This is an incredibly exciting time for the company as we embark on our flagship Havant Thicket Reservoir project and it was privilege to show Stephen the site of the new reservoir.

At its heart, Havant Thicket Reservoir is an environmentally-led project and we were pleased to give Stephen the opportunity to see the significant environmental works which have already been carried out on site.

Stephen was also taken for a tour of our Farlington Water Treatment Works where he witnessed first-hand how the water which supplies the majority of his constituents is treated to the very highest standards.”

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City MP reacts to Portsmouth’s Port’s new ‘ambitious’ 20-year masterplan

Stephen Morgan MP has welcomed Portsmouth International Port’s (PIP) new 20-year masterplan, launched earlier today.

The £92m 20-year Masterplan is expected to generate £739m over next ten years and secure over 11,000 jobs over the next 20.

£357m is expected to be generated for the local economy by 2042, up from roughly £187m it currently does now.

The Masterplan that will focus on:

  • Expansion of port land to cater for increase in unaccompanied freight
  • Extension of berth to cater for ships up to 300m
  • Extension to 25m for ships exiting the port
  • Creation of out-of-city pre gate and storage facilities
  • Smart technology to manage cargo and passenger flow
  • Sustainable infrastructure to manage alternative power demands
  • Achieve net zero by 2030
  • Facilitate a new electric ferry service
  • Upgrade facilities at international cargo terminal Portico
  • New Border Control Post

Mr Morgan lobbied government on behalf of PIP for £32m of funding in October 2020 from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements, allowing it to adapt to the government’s own new Border Operating Model.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of at least £7m and many businesses dependent on the port in the dark.

Government has also so far ignored the port’s further request for funding for all its originally planned new Border Control Points, and without it, the port will have no facility to use to check the 30,000 breeding animals that are expected to come through each year.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Portsmouth Port’s success is our city’s success, so I am delighted to learn how it will continue to create thousands of jobs, supporting our local economy and our national prosperity for many more years to come.

“The port’s new masterplan offers an exciting and ambitious future for Portsmouth, supporting the next generation through good quality work at a key asset for our city, providing lifelong career opportunities for local young people to take pride in.

“I am proud that the city’s port is putting environmental ambitions at the centre of its plans, working with partners who share these values, as they have a moral obligation to future generations to do so. 

“As a council-owned port, society and economy must go hand in hand, and it also means that decisions can be made based on wider benefits.

“I’ve been relentlessly lobbying ministers to get the support our port needs, but government has continued to short-change our city. I will continue to speak up for the port to secure the investment it deserves.

“The delivery of these plans is now essential to ensure Portsmouth International Port remains one of the prize assets of our city and the country that we can all be proud of. I look forward to continuing to support these efforts to ensure it happens.”

The City MP was particularly supportive of targets included within the plan to reach carbon net-zero by 2030, and become the UK’s first zero emission port by 2050.

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Stephen Morgan MP statement on ban lift on ‘bee-killing’ neonicotinoid pesticides

Commenting on the government’s position on ‘bee-killing’ pesticides, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Following views raised by constituents, I have been putting pressure on Ministers in Parliament over this environmental concern.

“Sadly the government’s response to our city’s concerns on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides are a total non-answer.

“Ministers know they have ignored official advice, but have gone ahead anyway. Yet again ignoring official advice to greenlight the use of harmful bee-killing pesticides is a worrying indication that the Government will not uphold its commitment to global leadership on environmental protection and tackling biodiversity loss.

“Labour supports our farmers but opposes any lifting of the ban on bee-killing pesticides – pollinator health is non-negotiable. Lifting the ban on neonicotinoids is not the solution to helping farmers address crop blight.

“Fortunately, weather conditions last year meant that there was no need to use this pesticide, but there is no guarantee that our bees will be lucky again this year. The Government must commit to not allowing these pesticides to be simply used again next year.”

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Aquind Stopped: Portsmouth MP responds

Responding to the Secretary of State’s decision to stop the Aquind interconnector project going ahead, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said: 

“The government have finally seen sense and stopped the disastrous Aquind project.

“This is a victory for the people of Portsmouth over years of uncertainty and Tory cronyism.

“I pay tribute to local campaigners who have helped me lead our City’s united opposition.

“I will continue to raise questions about how Conservative ministers came so close to allowing party donors facing corruption allegations to control a national infrastructure project.

“Without our efforts, this would not have been possible. Together, we have stopped Aquind.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long opposed the Aquind interconnector project, working alongside the Let’s Stop Aquind grassroots group.

Since his election he has grilled Ministers in Parliament, secured a dedicated debate on the issue, attended protests alongside local campaigners and met the project company to discuss concerns.

In September, Mr Morgan submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the project.

Mr Morgan has also consistently raised concerns about the project company’s concerningly opaque structure and finances.

Media reports from the BBC and Guardian revealed that Aquind owner Viktor Fedotov benefited from a $4bn alleged fraud in Russia. This seems to have been achieved through a complex scheme that funnelled government cash through layers of shell companies that were ultimately owned by Mr Fedotov.

Similar concerns have been raised about Aquind’s finances, with little information available about where its money is coming from, who is providing it, or whether similar complex financial structures are being used to hide this.

Mr Fedotov had been able to remain completely anonymous as the company’s owner using a rare exemption in corporate transparency rules, until his identity was revealed following an investigation by The Times in August 2020. Why this anonymity was necessary is not clear.

Aquind’s public face, Alexander Temerko, has also conducted a coordinated and concerted effort to influence British political figures.

Since the project started, Temerko has donated £700,000 to the Conservative Party. In addition to this, research done by the BBC has revealed that Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated a further £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties. This includes a string of current and former Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State was asked directly on Andrew Marr on 10 October if he was in favour of the project. He replied, “I have never commented on this specific project”.

However, letters obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information request show the Mr Kwarteng indicated both his and the government’s support for the project when he was Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.

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Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill – reaction from Stephen Morgan MP

Today the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill is due its second reading in the House of Commons, which I support. A high number of people have got in touch with me about the Bill hence why I am posting my views on my website.

I welcome its focus on recognising animals as sentient beings, replacing the protections lost through the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

I also agree that the Government has been dragging its heels on protecting our animals for years. We’ve seen lots of press releases, yet little action from Ministers.

Many of the Animal Welfare measures in the last Queen’s Speech were lifted directly from Labour’s Animal Welfare Manifesto, but I believe the Government has failed to grasp the full detail.

We can have little confidence in this Government’s commitment to animal welfare: their manifesto promised not to compromise on Britain’s high standards in trade deals, but the Australian trade deal, and the precedent it sets, risks outsourcing animal cruelty in the supply chain to other countries.

The Government is also turning a blind eye to the abuse of loopholes in the Hunting Act leading to wild animal cruelty, while they continue to allow trail hunting on land owned by Government Departments.

I also believe that the definition of an animal should be expanded beyond its current stipulations to include crustaceans and cephalopods, as a number of constituents have raised with me.

However, I agree with the broad principle of the Bill and Labour will be raising amendments to it at the next stage of its passage through Parliament.

Stephen Morgan MP

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Reflections on outcomes of COP26 – Stephen Morgan MP

We all needed the government to succeed in Glasgow, but I’m afraid to say that despite some modest progress, we are miles from where we need to be to secure the emissions reductions necessary to keep 1.5C alive.

That aim is on life support after this summit. We needed transformational change, and we got little more than more of the same. Despite the inclusion of coal in the final agreement, and some side deals on issues like methane, deforestation and finance, Glasgow did not achieve what we needed it to.

The respected Climate Action Tracker, and the UN Emissions Gap report update, both show that there was not enough progress to halve global emissions to 2030, and that we are 20-25 per-cent of the way to this goal at most.

Whilst COP26 took place in the context of difficult global geopolitics, Boris Johnson and his government bear some of the responsibility for the failure of this summit to do more. We have long argued that he should have treated it with the seriousness it deserves, and had a proper plan for success.

The government undermined its own negotiating position by facing both ways in many cases. They called on countries to phase out fossil fuels and power past coal, whilst licensing a huge oilfield at Combo and flirting with a new coal mine in Cumbria. They called for finance for developing countries whilst cutting our aid budget – the only G7 country to do so. They even let big emitters off the hook, like Australia, by removing temperature commitments in our trade deal with them.

The government must now do better. We remain the COP President until Egypt next year, and it is vital government learns the lessons of their failure and finally delivers climate action and justice at home and abroad. I will continue to press government to tackle the climate emergency, and make the right choices for Portsmouth, Britain and the world.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

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Aquind: Portsmouth MP grills ministers on checks carried out on alleged ‘fraudster’ owners of ‘disastrous project’

Stephen Morgan MP grilled ministers in the House of Commons today on what checks have been carried out on the owners of Aquind, after one was implicated in a £72m fraud scheme linked to Putin’s Russia.

Revelations uncovered by BBC Panorama and The Guardian newspaper in October raised serious questions over whether a reported £72m, made by Aquind co-owner Viktor Fedotov through an allegedly corrupt company, made its way to the heart of the British government and has influenced its decision to give the Russian-born AQUIND co-owner’s infrastructure project the green light or not.

Alexander Temerko, who is a friend of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and also a co-owner of AQUIND, has together with the company donated £1.1m to the Conservative Party.

The Portsmouth MP recently hosted Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead MP on a visit to the city to meet with ‘Stop Aquind’ campaigners, as next month’s deadline (January 21) for the government to make a decision on whether to approve the controversial project looms.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“There are serious allegations surrounding the Aquind interconnector project and yet many questions are still left unanswered. After delaying its decision twice, the government has had more than enough time to do the due diligence that’s needed to get to the bottom of this.

“Reported shady ties between Aquind’s co-owners and dirty money tracing back to Putin’s Russia need to be fully investigated, particularly if any of it has made its way to ministers at the heart of the British government via political donations.

“Ministers must come clean on checks they have done around Aquind and its owners to protect our national infrastructure and finally bring an end to this disastrous project once and for all.”

 

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Aquind: Portsmouth MP hosts Shadow Energy Minister and local campaigners as deadline looms

Stephen Morgan MP hosted Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead MP on a visit to the city today to meet with ‘Stop Aquind’ campaigners, as next month’s deadline for the government to make a decision on the controversial project looms.

Before a discussion with key activists, Mr Whitehead toured one of the city’s ‘precious green areas’, which could be subject to horizontal drilling and wider disruption, if the interconnector cable is given the go ahead by government. The official deadline for the Conservative Government’s Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng MP to make a decision is January 21.

The Official Opposition has continued to ramp up pressure on the major infrastructure proposal, including calls to investigate whether donations to the Conservative party from Russian-linked individuals and Aquind co-owners like Alexander Temerko are connected to Putin’s Kremlin.

Temerko has handed more than £1.6m in donations to Conservative political figures over recent years. Its majority investor, the Russian-born oil tycoon Viktor Fedotov, secretly co-owned a company once accused of participating in a massive corruption scheme relating to a Russian pipeline.

The visit follows a further intervention by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Ed Milliband MP last weekend writing to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over the involvement of Ministers in the Aquind application.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

As I’ve said since this project was first proposed, Aquind offers no clear benefits to our city, but will bring years of untold disruption and damage to our precious natural environment.

“I’m really pleased to have widespread support from frontbench colleagues on this and was delighted to welcome the Shadow Energy Minister to Portsmouth today, so he could hear first-hand the scale of the impact this disastrous project would have on our city’s open and green spaces.

“As we approach next month’s deadline, I’ll continue to work with frontbench colleagues to keep the pressure up and ensure Ministers make the right decision by finally stopping Aquind.”

Shadow Minister for Energy and the Green New Deal and Member of Parliament for Southampton Test, Alan Whitehead MP, added:

“It’s been really useful to meet with Stephen and local campaigners in Portsmouth today to better understand the scale of the impact Aquind will have locally, and the strength of the city’s united opposition to this project.

“Aquind and its owners’ activity has been highly suspicious – from handing donations to the Conservative party and a number of its MPs to the tune of £1.1 million – to exchanging secret letters with the minister holding the pen on the final decision.

“That’s why I’ve joined Stephen and others in calling for this vital decision to be taken out of the hands of Business Ministers, and anybody else who has met or been lobbied by this donor.”

Co-chair of the ‘Stop Aquind’ campaign, Paula Ann-Savage, also said:

“To allow any disruption of any kind to Portsmouth’s unique wildlife and established areas of biodiversity, will only prove that Kwasi Kwarteng MP doesn’t understand the importance of our ecosystems and why we should be protecting them.”