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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.”

 

 

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Portsmouth MP urges residents to make concerns known to Planning Inspectorate over AQUIND proposals

Stephen Morgan MP is urging residents to urgently make concerns known to the Planning Inspectorate over the controversial £1.2bn AQUIND interconnector project which would affect communities across the eastern side of the city.

The scheme has been heavily criticised by the MP and city council for failing to properly consider alternative routes for underground cables or the act on the views of residents.

The city MP has been taking a range of actions in opposition to the proposals. Efforts to date have included submitting a string of parliamentary questions; highlighting to national newspapers the backers’ huge donations and support to the Conservatives; undertaking a survey to hear views; meeting the company to raise city concerns; putting pressure on Ministers to take action; and; working with residents to submit objections.

The latest set of actions by the Portsmouth South representative follows concerns that have been raised over potential plans affecting local allotments. Constituents share Stephen’s worries that latest plans would involve digging up and laying of cables under the Milton Allotments off Locksway Road

Encouraging residents to voice their concerns by objecting to the Planning Inspectorate, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Since hearing about the AQUIND project, I have been taking action on behalf of Portsmouth residents.

Despite asking repeatedly how the £1.2bn scheme would benefit our city, it is very clear to me it will only disrupt residents’ lives and put our precious natural environment and green spaces at risk.

That is why I continue to lobby in the strongest possible terms for constituents against this infrastructure project.

Whilst I continue to welcome the council’s liaison with the developers, it is vital our views in Portsmouth are heard. I therefore urge residents to make sure the Planning Inspectorate knows the strength of feeling from our city on this issue of concern”.

Local ward campaigners Paula Ann Savage and Craig Withey have created a template email for any residents to object to proposals to Government decision-makers, ahead of the deadline of 6 October 2020. It is understood planning hearings are due to take place in December, after various submissions have been delivered.

To get a copy of the objection template and who to send it to, email Portsmouth Labour at hello@portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk. Alternatively constituents should email views directly to aquind@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

Further information 

To find out more about some of Stephen Morgan MP’s actions and views over AQUIND see the links below.

Taking action over environmental impact:

https://www.stephenmorgan.org.uk/city-mp-holds-government-minister-to-account-over-environmental-impacts-of-aquind/

Speaking out over owners’ donations to the Conservatives:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/name-russian-tycoon-behind-power-company-say-top-tories-0vqb0vw8g

See also: https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/business/aquind-director-alexander-temerko-says-he-has-zero-political-influence-2944874

Putting pressure on Government to act:

https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/politics/portsmouth-south-mp-demands-answers-government-over-aquind-plans-2000905?amp

Listening to constituents’ concerns over the company’s proposals:

https://www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/portsmouth-labour-news/2020/03/01/have-your-say-on-aquind/

A website created by the city council, although some of the pages are out of date:

https://interconnectorportsmouth.co.uk/#about-project

 

 

 

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The climate emergency: Government must act with far greater urgency and ambition

Portsmouth people know that I very much agree that we need urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency. That is why it is a priority for me in the work I do locally for Portsmouth and in Parliament. And with the challenges we face and with the climate emergency we have declared in our city, we need more than words, but deeds.

The flash floods, deadly landslides, and wildfires we have seen over recent years make clear that climate breakdown is not a distant threat but something that is happening here and now. Yet while Parliament declared an environment and climate emergency in May last year, our government are simply not responding as the situation requires.

The Government maintains that it intends to decarbonise the UK economy and that it is taking steps to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. But as the Committee on Climate Change’s most recent progress report makes clear, the gulf between the government’s rhetoric on climate action and the reality is vast. Not only are Ministers set to miss the 2050 target that Parliament legislated for just over a year ago, they are not even on track to meet the less ambitious one that preceded it.

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.

Labour is determined that the UK must show global leadership on this issue, and that means starting with ambitious action at home. I believe we should aim to achieve the substantial majority of our emissions reductions by 2030 and that we need to do so through a world-leading Green New Deal.

As such, I support many of the aims set out in the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which, as you may know, is a Presentation Bill (one that does not involve a debate or a vote in parliament, but is a way of drawing attention to an issue that requires a change in the law).

Labour will also be developing our 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.

More immediately, my focus is on ensuring that the government seizes the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the need to rebuild in the aftermath of the pandemic to rapidly decarbonise our economy through a green recovery. Seizing that opportunity, as other advanced economies are doing, requires more than rhetoric from Ministers. It requires a plan.

We need that plan now so that we can invest in the green industries of the future, put people back to work in good, green jobs across the country, and support workers and communities as we make the transition to a low-carbon and socially-just economy. With a plan like that, we can raise our domestic climate ambition with a significantly enhanced 2030 emissions reduction target and demonstrate real leadership as the host of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.

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 the above, and more widely for bold action to tackle the climate and ecological emergency at every opportunity.

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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Stephen Morgan MP calls for local fishing communities’ interests to be placed at the heart of Fisheries Bill

Stephen Morgan MP has urged the government to ensure that it delivers on its promises to UK fishing communities in making the UK fishing industry economically & environmentally sustainable. This comes ahead of the Fisheries Bill debate scheduled in the House of Commons today.

The Fisheries Bill establishes the legal framework for managing UK fisheries as an independent coastal state under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, after leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy at the end of the Brexit Transition (11pm on 31 December 2020).

In the UK, we export most of what we catch and import most of what we eat (80% of UK fish landings are exported).

The Government has always had the power to redistribute share of UK’s quota but has chosen not to, despite small vessel owners facing severe financial hardship over the years.

For example, 50% of the English quota is held by companies based overseas; the small scale fleet holds only 6%; and the five largest quota-holders control more than a 1/3 of the UK fishing quota, with four owned by families on the Sunday Times Rich List.

Mr Morgan said:

“This government has left our coastal communities – like ours here in Portsmouth – suffering for too long from poor transport infrastructure and lack of economic opportunities.

It’s high time these treasured communities see a coastal renaissance and get the deal they richly deserve.”

Reportedly, Covid-19 hit seafood export markets hard. The price of fish fell through the floor, in some cases by 85%, leaving fishing businesses facing huge financial hardship.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“With the impact of Covid-19 having a particular heavy impact on fishers, it is now more important than ever the government get this right and ensures the industry is economically and environmentally sustainable.”