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COP26: City MP calls for government to ‘come clean’ on its climate commitments in UK trade deals

Stephen Morgan MP grilled ministers in the House of Commons today on whether the government’s commitment to tackle climate change is serious, after a leak last week suggested it would prioritise economic growth over climate protection.

It comes as the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, is set to begin in Glasgow next week.

The leaked document was drawn up for a cross-Whitehall working group and circulated around 120 Whitehall officials in recent days.

It’s reported to say, “HMG (the government) should not refuse to liberalise on products of environmental concern where there is an economic case for liberalisation, or partner interest is so strong that not doing so would compromise the wider agreement.”

Following his question to the Secretary of State for International Trade in the House of Commons this morning, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented:

“The government is happy to talk up its supposed commitment to tackling this generation’s greatest challenge, but behind closed doors, it’s comfortable to roll back on it.

“With just over a week away until Britain hosts the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement, we should be showing leadership, not breaking our promises.

“Government must come clean and not waste next week’s critical opportunity to tackle climate change and I will continue to hold Ministers to account on this.”

The City MP has vowed to continue to keep pressuring government to ensure it lives up to its climate commitments and seizes the chance to finally get a grip of the climate emergency at COP26.

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Stephen Morgan MP votes to make the Environment Bill fit for purpose

Stephen Morgan MP has voted to tackle the climate emergency, improve air quality, clean the country’s waters, protect its bees and pollinators and for a strong and powerful Office of Environmental Protection, as the Environment Bill returned to the House of Commons today.

A climate emergency has been declared in Portsmouth and more widely, wildlife in Britain is on a downward spiral with 44% of species in decline over the last ten years.

Labour has accused Ministers of ‘dither and delay’ in recent months and with COP26 approaching, the Environment Bill remains ‘unfit for purpose’. The Official Opposition argues the interim Office for Environmental Protection ‘lacks independence, an assurance of adequate resource, or the power to fine.’

The party has also said Ministers are doing all they can to resist concrete protections, leaving our environment as a bargaining chip for new trade agreements that would undercut Britain’s environmental standards.

The Portsmouth representative has vowed to vote for a range of amendments that would strengthen the Bill and take the steps necessary to preserve the planet and protect Portsmouth’s environment.

This includes a change to the Bill that has cross-party support which would ensure “world leading protection” for waterways across the country, according to charity Surfers Against Sewage, including those linked to Langstone Harbour.

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“We have waited many months for this Environment Bill, whilst our waters are ever more polluted, our air is ever dirtier, and our planet moves closer and closer to disaster.

The Conservatives have shown little energy or enthusiasm for making this Bill fit for purpose and that is why it has taken almost two years – and our departure from the European Union – to just get to this stage.

It is clear from the views of local people and campaign groups in Portsmouth that real leadership is required and the Conservatives in government have been found wanting.

Labour under Keir Starmer will take the bold, ambitious and long overdue steps necessary to preserve our planet and protect our environment”.

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Government Ministers must ‘match rhetoric with action’ and vote to protect Portsmouth’s environment – City MP

Stephen Morgan MP is calling for the government to back changes to the Environment Bill which would place a legal duty on water companies not to pollute Portsmouth’s waterways.

The change to the Bill, which has cross-party support, would ensure “world leading protection” for waterways across the country, according to charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Without the proposed change, water companies would not be required to take immediate action to tackle sewage pollution, meaning the state of local waterways could continue to decline indefinitely.

The charity has claimed the government would be at risk of undermining its own manifesto pledge to leave the environment in a better state than it found it.

It comes after recent reports from the Environment Agency of an ‘abnormal situation’ in Eastney on October 9.

The Portsmouth MP has written to the regulator demanding answers on what conversations it had with the local water provider Southern Water, in addition to a range of actions Mr Morgan has taken to clean up the city’s bathing waters.

In the local MP’s constituency alone, sewage was pumped into local rivers for at least 617 hours in 2020, according to data from The Rivers Trust.

In July, Southern Water was handed a record £90m fine by the water regulator for thousands of illegal discharges of sewage, which polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex.

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

“As we approach Cop26, the government has an opportunity to match its rhetoric on protecting our environment with action.

“Southern Water’s record shows that the current system in place to protect Portsmouth’s waterways, including Langstone Harbour, is not fit for purpose.

“Southern Water spent the equivalent of nearly a month last year pumping sewage into local waters, and it’s high time now something is done to address this chronic problem for our city.

“Proposed changes to government legislation would force industry to live up to their responsibilities and I hope all of our region’s parliamentary representatives will do the right thing and vote to properly protect our environment.”

The City MP is set vote for the amendment backed by Surfers Against Sewage and other environmental groups in the House of Commons tomorrow evening.

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Statement from Stephen Morgan MP – Stop the Sewage Protest

A statement from Stephen Morgan MP was provided today at a protest in Eastney, demonstrating against Southern Water’s continued discharges into the Solent.

“What we saw last weekend is deeply concerning and the quality of our bathing water is a severe concern for many of us.

“There seems to be a clear difference between what Southern Water is sayingand the water local people were witnessing, which is why I wrote to the Environment Agency earlier this week demanding answers over last weekend’s ‘abnormal situation’.

“The government and its regulator need to provide assurances to the people of Portsmouth that our local environment is being properly protected and that industry is living up to its responsibilities.

“It’s vital we get to the bottom of this ‘abnormal incident’ quickly to understand the cause, lessons can be learnt to prevent it from happening again and those responsible can be held to account. Any wrongdoing must be dealt with
robustly.

“But the scenes from last weekend were just the tip of the iceberg.

“The evidence we have seen over recent months and years demonstrates we have a system that wilfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country.

“Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters, exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate ocean ecosystems to harm.

“Consequently, our water quality remains at the same dire level as it was in the 1990s, placing the UK a pitiful 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality.

“Natural spaces such as Langstone Harbour and the Solent are crucial for the health and wellbeing of society and should be highly protected, not used as a dumping ground for big business.

“That is why I have been calling on the Government to end sewage pollution to protect UK waters, help restore our rivers and ocean, and working with others to hold Southern Water to account to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public.

“I’ve met with key bodies, raised concerns with the water company, asked questions of Ministers and called on Government to take urgent action to fix long-running local sewage pollution.

“I will be taking further action over the next few weeks, urging Government to do more, and do better”.

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Portsmouth MP demands answers after ‘abnormal situation’ warning for bathers

Stephen Morgan MP has demanded the Environment Agency (EA) urgently provide answers to explain the ‘abnormal situation’ reported at the weekend that advised bathers not to swim in local waters.

In a letter to the EA, the Portsmouth MP has asked for the regulator to clarify, amongst a range of concerns, what was the cause of the warning, who is responsible, can it be prevented and what conversations has it had with Southern Water (SW) about the incident.

SW has said that “No releases were made over the weekend and there were no incidents at any of our assets in the area.” and that “no evidence” of sewage pollution was found by its investigating officers.

This is despite local charity Final Straw Foundation reportedly collecting 135kg of rubbish and dirty wipes from the area on Saturday morning.

It comes after the EA issued a record £90m SW in July this year, after it was prosecuted by the EA for at least 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges between 2010 and 2015.

Meanwhile, it is the second year in a row the water utility has performed below target, with the EA labelling SW’s performance as “consistently unacceptable during the last 5 years” in its environmental performance report for 2020. It also said the water utility was “significantly below target (red) for the Environmental Performance Assessment sewerage incidents metric”.

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

“Reports from the weekend are deeply concerning and the quality of our bathing water is a significant concern for many of my constituents.

“There seems to be a clear difference between what Southern Water is saying and the water local people are witnessing.

“The government and its regulator need to provide assurances to the people of Portsmouth that our local environment is being properly protected and that industry is living up to its responsibilities.

“It’s vital we get to the bottom of this ‘abnormal incident’ quickly to understand the cause, lessons can be learnt to prevent it from happening again and those responsible can be held to account. Any wrongdoing must be dealt with robustly.”

Mr Morgan has been campaigning for Government to finally end sewage discharge and calling on water companies to tackle the issue with real investment and urgency. He has taken a range of actions including raising questions in the House of Commons, lobbying Ministers, holding Southern Water to account and working alongside a number of local groups in the city.

The Portsmouth MP has also called for constituents to share their concerns with him about sewage discharge to build the case to government to take action. Over 250 people have already shared their views in the last 24 hours.. This can be accessed at: https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/solent-sewage-discharge/

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Log your concerns over Solent sewage discharge

Evidence in recent months and years show that we have a system that wilfully ignores the worst pollution events in our country. Water companies continue to legally pollute UK waters, exposing all-water users, as well as our delicate ocean ecosystems to harm.

Consequently, our water quality remains at the same dire level as it was in the 1990s, placing the UK a pitiful 25th out of 30 EU countries for coastal water quality.

Natural spaces such as Langstone Harbour and the Solent are crucial for the health and wellbeing of society and should be highly protected, not used as a dumping ground for big business.

Stephen has been calling on the Government to end sewage pollution to protect UK waters, help restore our rivers and ocean, and working with others to hold Southern Water to account to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public.

He’s met with key bodies, raised concerns with the water company, asked questions of Ministers and called on Government to take urgent action.

Help Stephen continue to make the case in Parliament to ensure Government do more, and do better. Tell us your key concerns or issues here so he can build the case from Portsmouth to Ministers:

Thank you for signing our petition. Stephen Morgan MP will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Solent sewage discharge campaign. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit here

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Statement from City MP at ‘Stop Aquind’ Guildhall Square protest

Today (Saturday 2 October 2021) local people gathered at the Guildhall Square for the latest ‘Stop AQUIND’ public event.

For the event, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“My thanks to all of you for your hard work and determination to keep pressure on this Conservative government to make sure they put an end to this disastrous project for our city.

“AQUIND is a project that’s mired in Tory cronyism, offering nothing for our city, but bringing with it untold disruption to our daily lives and damage to our precious natural environment.

“From my 6,200 signature public petition that was signed by local people and submitted to Parliament last month, to the open letter from our local paper delivered to the Business Secretary just yesterday, one thing is clear.

“The people of Portsmouth are united. The AQUIND Interconnector Project must be stopped.

“If the decision does not go our city’s way, the council must take the fight immediately to a judicial review. It is in their power to start that work, and to start it now. Let’s use today’s event to tell the council they must now do so now.

“From its outset, I have been and will continue to be by your side. I have written a string of letters to Ministers, tabled a range of parliamentary questions and submitted evidence to the planning inspectorate detailing our shared concerns.

“It cannot be right that a decision that will acutely affect the people of Portsmouth will be made hundreds of miles away behind a desk in Whitehall.

“Despite this being a government of dither and delay, Kwasi Kwarteng cannot keep running forever from the main task he was put in the job to do: make decisions.

“But it’s high time now this crony government finally listened to our concerns.

“The Business Secretary must provide certainty to the thousands of city residents whose daily lives will be affected by this disastrous project.

“Government has the power to stop AQUIND. Its high time Tory Ministers do so.”

 

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City MP blasts government planning reforms and “unsustainable” housing targets

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has criticised the government’s proposed planning reforms, which he says will force ‘unsustainable’ house-building targets on the City.

The government’s hated “Developers’ Charter” is set to hand control of planning decisions over to housebuilders and gag communities from speaking out against inappropriate developments in their area.

Mr Morgan has written to Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to raise concerns around the government’s inflated housing targets, which would see Portsmouth build 17,357 dwellings by 2038.

The City MP wrote: “Our city recognises the need to build more homes, but any delivery must be sustainable, integrated with the right infrastructure, and acknowledge the unique circumstances Portsmouth faces.”

In response, the Housing Minister committed to meet the Portsmouth South representative and local planners to discuss their concerns and deliver a more sustainable housing plan, but is yet to set a date for the meeting.

In June, Mr Morgan supported Labour’s proposals to protect local people’s right to object to individual planning applications in the House of Commons, after the Government announced plans to rip up the planning system in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government’s proposed reforms of the planning system will remove powers from elected local representatives and hand them to Whitehall-appointed boards of developers while doing nothing to solve the growing affordable housing crisis.

Boards will oversee a new zonal system that allows developers to build at will in areas designated for growth. Communities will be consulted only in the development of five-yearly local plans and will be gagged from intervening in individual planning applications.

Conservative Ministers have claimed that the reforms are needed to speed up housebuilding, even though over one million planning permissions have not been built out in the last decade.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“The government’s inflated housing targets are totally unsustainable for our densely populated City. They risk overwhelming local infrastructure and endangering our treasured natural environments. 

“The Minister’s empty promises of a meeting speak volumes, but I’ll fight to make sure local voices are heard.

“I want to see a flexible planning system that delivers the homes we need while placing local people at the centre of decisions that affect our City.

“Algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by councils and communities who know their area best.”

 

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Portsmouth MP piles pressure on Conservative Ministers to ‘Stop Aquind’

Stephen Morgan MP urged the government during a speech in Parliament today to ‘Stop Aquind’ and reject the ‘damaging’ infrastructure project.

The Portsmouth MP secured a Westminster Hall debate, outlining the key concerns constituents have shared with him, including:

  • the long-term disruption its construction would cause;
  • the damage to the local environment; and
  • the murky relationship the company and its directors have with government.

It marks the latest intervention from the local MP to stop the project ahead of the Conservative Government’s final decision, expected later this summer. Mr Morgan has also raised the issue during departmental businesses questions in the House of Commons and launched his public petition to ‘Stop Aquind’ the weekend before.

Sharing his constituents fears about AQUIND during his speech, the Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Whatever the alleged merits of this project may be, to ignore the overwhelmingly negative impact it would have on Portsmouth’s residents, its businesses and environment, would be a dereliction of duty.”

Mr Morgan also criticised AQUIND’s “shady campaign to lobby successive Conservative Ministers, behind closed doors and backed by heaps of cash”.

He dismissed as ‘fantasy’ any suggestion that Kwasi Kwarteng MP,  the Conservative Secretary of State for Business who has a final say over the project, could make an impartial decision.

Stephen Morgan MP, commented:

Today in Parliament I once again challenged Tory government ministers to put an end to these damaging proposals and Stop Aquind.

“I was deeply unimpressed with the Minister’s response, failing to address any of the questions raised by my constituents or outline any specific benefits the AQUIND interconnector project would bring to Portsmouth.

“I know those who object to the scheme will also be disappointed to see no other local MP participate in the debate, despite our area’s outright objection to the project.

“I will keep working on behalf of local people to ensure we secure an end to these plans and stop AQUIND. Constituents can show their opposition by signing my public petition.”

You can sign the Portsmouth South MP’s public petition at www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/aquindpetition

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Portsmouth MP’s ‘Stop AQUIND’ campaign accelerates with petition now available in local shops

Stephen Morgan MP’s joint campaign with the local ‘Stop AQUIND’ group to sign his public petition is accelerating, with petitions now available to collect in local shops and hundreds of signatures already collected.

The local representative – who has long-opposed the controversial AQUIND project – launched the petition alongside the local ‘Stop AQUIND’ campaign last weekend at the organisation’s ‘Walk the Route’ event.

The MP’s petition, which can be signed by any UK resident, calls on the government to reject the project, citing the huge damage it would do to the local infrastructure and environment, as well as ongoing concerns surrounding the project company and its directors.

Now, in less than a week, Mr Morgan’s office and ‘Stop AQUIND’ campaigners have collected hundreds of signatures, from knocking doors, being out and about in the constituency and at local community venues.

The following local businesses have also made the city MP’s public petition available in their stores to be signed by local residents:

  • Broadway Coffee
  • Hounds Barbers
  • Herbies
  • Southsea Cycles
  • Pompey on a roll
  • Corner collective
  • Tango Tea
  • Dress Code
  • Albert Road Southsea
  • Budds Apothecary
  • Milton community centre
  • Fruit and Flower
  • Locksway Road post office
  • The Larder
  • Winnie’ s Bakery
  • The Brewer’ s Tap
  • Wild Thyme
  • Southsea Deli

The petition is also set to be available soon in a range of shops on Albert Road and Milton Road.

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

“I’m really encouraged by the enthusiasm of local people who are keen to sign up to my public petition to Stop AQUIND.

“In less than a week, we have already made solid progress and it’s great to see so many community businesses who will be impacted by this deeply damaging project getting involved as well, which I hope will make it easier for others to sign up to my petition.

“AQUIND would be a disaster for Portsmouth and our city’s voices must be heard. By working together, we can Stop AQUIND.”

Mr Morgan, in partnership with the ‘Stop AQUIND’ campaign, is also set to run a number of street stalls in the coming days where it will be available for people to sign up.

He will also be speaking in a Westminster Hall debate that he recently secured on Tuesday, to once again call for the Business Secretary to delay making his final decision on AQUIND.

The public petition can be downloaded for signing at www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/aquindpetition