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Stephen Morgan MP reaffirms commitment to ‘LET’S STOP AQUIND’ campaign at local protest

Stephen Morgan MP has doubled down on his commitment to the ‘LET’S STOP AQUIND’ campaign after joining local activists at a ‘static protest’ against the project.

Taking place along the local shoreline earlier this afternoon, the Portsmouth MP joined protestors in forming a line around where the interconnector project will be built.

AQUIND has received a heavy amount of criticism over links with backers of the project to the Conservative party, disruption to the local environment it could cause and conflicts of interest of the recently appointed chair of the universities regulator, Lord Wharton.

Mr Wharton is a former Tory MP, current advisor to AQUIND and in his new role as chair of the Office for Students (OfS), now has powers to sanction the University of Portsmouth, which has also expressed its opposition to the project.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

“I’ve long argued that AQUIND would cause untold damage and disruption with no clear benefits to our local area. That’s why I joined local activists today in showing my opposition again to this development, which must be stopped.

“Beneath the cosy relationships Conservative Ministers have with their billionaire donors and others are choices that affect the day-to-day lives of people in Portsmouth.

“Our city deserves total transparency from this government and a real say in the decisions about the plans and I will continue to do all I can in Parliament to ensure Ministers listen to our demands and reject these proposals”.

A spokesperson for the ‘Let’s Stop Aquind’ campaign, Viola Langley, also said,

“We at Let’s Stop Aquind care deeply about our city and beyond. We call upon Her Majesty’s Government to put a stop to this destructive project.

“We residents demand our objections be heard.”

From a very early stage, Mr Morgan has taken a broad range of actions to halt plans for the largescale infrastructure project, including giving evidence to the Planning Inspectorate expressing his concerns around Aquind, tabling a number of written parliamentary questions and has written a number of letters to Ministers.

He has also vowed to take further action in Parliament in efforts to stop the project in the weeks ahead.

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Cronyism scandal: Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to lobby for AQUIND following letters from Tory donor

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng expressed strong support for the AQUIND interconnector following sustained lobbying from the company’s Director Alexander Temerko, new documents reveal.

Letters obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal Kwasi Kwarteng stated the government’s ongoing support for the controversial project and agreed to lobby French officials to support it at their side of the channel.

A letter dated 17 March 2020, when Kwarteng was Minister of state in department he now leads, said “I do not think that there is much doubt that the UK government and Ofgem support the project.”

The letter continued: “please be assured that our support for the project remains. I will ensure that my officials continue to take suitable opportunities to communicate the benefits of the project in discussions with the French government.”

Another piece of correspondence, sent on 3 October 2019 was singed off with an affectionate handwritten note: “excellent to see you at [Conservative party] conference this year!”

The letters raise fresh concerns about the government’s handling of the contentious infrastructure project and comes amid a series of cronyism allegations against Conservative figures at the very top of government.

Kwasi Kwarteng will have the final decision about whether the project goes ahead later this year.

But it continues to face strong opposition from Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan as well as local campaign groups and has been mired in controversy.

AQUIND remains a major Conservative donor. The party has been given £1.6 million by Temerko or companies he has directed since 2012, and £55,000 by Aquind since last August.

Further conflict of interest concerns were raised earlier this year when Lord Wharton – former Conservative MP and paid adviser to AQUIND – was set to oversee the regulation of universities including Portsmouth, which will be impacted by the project.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Against a backdrop of government cronyism, these revelations raise further questions about the nature of AQUIND’s relationship with government Ministers who are in charge of whether the project goes ahead.

“The project would cause untold damage and disruption with no clear benefits to our local area.

“Beneath the cosy relationships Ministers have with their billionaire donors are choices that affect the day-to-day lives of people as Portsmouth.

“They deserve total transparency from this government and a real say in the decisions about the project.”

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City MP backs Keep Britain Tidy’s million-mile mission to clean up Portsmouth’s lockdown litter

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP has pledged support to a litter-picking initiative to allow it to flourish across Portsmouth as the pandemic restrictions continue to ease.

Keep Britain Tidy, Britain’s favourite environmental charity, is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter that blights our communities as part of the Great British Spring Clean. The Portsmouth MP has signed up to help and is encouraging residents and groups across the city to get involved too.

The Great British Spring Clean, now in its sixth year, brings together individuals, community organisations, businesses and councils to make a difference to the environment on our doorstep.

In 2019, more than half a million #LitterHeroes collected just under a million bags of litter, weighing around 4,308 tons.

Encouraging fellow residents to get involved, Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Locked down, many people across Portsmouth have come to rely on green space close to home which has become a significant somewhere to escape, exercise and play.

“Our city’s parks and open spaces have mattered to us more than ever before. That’s why I am pleased to support this year’s Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

“The Great Spring Clean is a brilliant way to keep active and at the same time make a difference in our area.

I encourage fellow residents, local groups and businesses to join me in showing some love for the special places that helped us through lockdown by helping to clear up our city’s precious open spaces”.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend the city MP was out with local Milton campaigner Paula Savage clearing up litter safely in local parks.

The campaign, which runs from 28 May – 13 June 2021, calls on the public to pledge to clean-up and help the charity achieve a million miles of litter-picking. 

This year’s campaign comes as the charity has reported a massive increase in the number of people who have started litter-picking during the various lockdowns. It has seen the number of #LitterHeroes grow by a third in less than 12 months.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton added:

“We are delighted to have the support of Stephen Morgan MP for this year’s Great British Spring Clean.

“We have all spent a lot more time in our local area in the past year and have come to realise just how important our local park or green space is for our mental and physical health.

“We need to care for these spaces and the Great British Spring Clean is an opportunity for everyone to take a small action that, collectively, can make a big difference.

“Whether you commit to do five minutes or five hours, every single pledge will help us reach our million-mile target and clear many tonnes of litter pollution from our environment.”

Keep Britain Tidy is asking everyone to pledge to do their bit to clear up the litter in their local green spaces. Anyone can pledge to get involved at www.keepbritaintidy.org/gbspringclean



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City MP calls for Clean Air Act at landmark environmental summit

Stephen Morgan MP has joined Labour’s call for a Clean Air Act in a bid to combat the impact of air pollution, following the Official Opposition’s first Clean Air Summit today.

The first summit of its kind to be hosted by a major party, Luke Pollard MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, set out the Party’s demands for a Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act would establish a legal right to breathe clean air by ensuring the law on air quality is at least as strict as WHO guidelines, with tough new duties on Ministers to enforce them and grant new powers to local authorities to take urgent action on air quality.

Even before the pandemic, air pollution represented a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20 billion annually.

Meanwhile in Portsmouth, there have been historic issues with dirty polluting air and campaigns to stop the Lib Dem-run council from rolling back the proposed clean air zone plans to finally address the challenge in the city.

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

“We have had historic issues with air pollution in our city and Labour is taking national action to resolve this chronic issue we all face.

“The pandemic has shown us that public health is more important than ever. We need to take every step we can to improve the health of our nation, and that starts with cleaning up our polluted air.

“Our Clean Air Act would give public bodies the powers they need to take even further action and clean up our air for good.”


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Climate Emergency: Government must move further and faster

Like many constituents, I am passionate about the need for urgent action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency. It has long been a priority for me in the work I do locally in Portsmouth and in Parliament. Given the scale of the challenges we face, we know the time to act is now.

While many local authorities across the country – including Portsmouth – have declared a climate emergency, all we’ve seen from this government so far is dither and delay.

The Prime Minister must seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a green recovery from the pandemic, and act to rapidly decarbonise our economy. Real progress on this issue requires more than rhetoric from Ministers. It requires a plan.

That’s why I support the aims of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which was presented by Caroline Lucas MP as a Private Members’ Bill on 2 September 2020. It was tabled for second reading on 12 March 2021, but sittings for Private Members’ Bills have since been suspended due to the pandemic, and it is important to point out it is merely a Presentation Bill meaning there will be no votes on the matters contained within the Bill. Similarly, unfortunately only a very small number of Private Members’ Bills ever become law, and they are usually those that have Government support.

Labour continues to develop its own parliamentary agenda on the climate emergency, in consultation with our members, the climate movement, trade unions, businesses, and communities across the country, which will include many of the principles laid out in this Bill. I am working closely with colleagues on this.

In the meantime, I want the UK to take tangible steps towards a greener future now. That’s why I voted for amendments to the government’s Environment Bill. New Clause 5 would have set a target to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030, while Amendment 25 would have set air quality targets in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.  

Not only did the government vote against these amendments, but I am bitterly disappointed to say they have also now delayed the next stages of the Bill until later this year. This now mean that we will be without a post-Brexit environmental plan until later this year, wasting valuable months in the lead up to COP26 where the UK has the chance to lead global change on this issue.

Confronted by this unfolding emergency, I am clear that 2050 is too late for the UK to end its contribution to climate breakdown and runaway global heating. According to the UN, we have less than ten years left to avoid the worst impacts of catastrophic climate change. The government must act with far greater urgency and ambition.

Whilst Labour will be outlining a vision for a Green Recovery in the coming months, I can assure you that I will continue to push for bold, rapid and meaningful action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity, both locally and nationally.

It is what the people of Portsmouth, and future generations, expect me to do. If you have views or ideas to help make this a reality, as always, please get in touch.

Stephen Morgan MP



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Portsmouth MP: ‘Government must commit to tackle air quality ahead of COP26 Presidency’

Stephen Morgan MP questioned Minsters in the House of Commons today to ensure the government commits to tackling air quality in the UK. The UK will assume the COP26 Presidency this year and will host the global climate conference in Glasgow this November.

This comes after the Official Opposition had pushed the government to tackle air quality in its recent Environment Bill to set parameters to ensure that the PM2.5 (particulate matter) target for air quality will be at least as strict as the 2005 WHO guidelines, with an attainment deadline of 2030 at the latest.

However, this proposition was voted down by the government.

As it stands, the legislation contains no firm targets, with the government committing only to setting one following a ‘review’. COP26 offers an opportunity for the UK to become a world leader on climate change, yet the decision could cause the UK to lag behind other European countries.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented,

“It cannot be right that on the year we are set to host the world’s biggest climate change conference, our own government refuses to commit to tackle air quality here in the UK.

“Air quality is already having real world impacts now, with our own city facing historic challenges with air pollution.

“If we are to emerge from this crisis and to be truly world leading in tackling the climate emergency, government should cut out the rhetoric and take action to face up to this challenge we all share.”

Mr Morgan continues to work with local groups to ensure the city council delivers its climate emergency and has consistently put pressure on national government to progress the climate agenda.

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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.