Environmental issues are high on the agenda of many local groups (and of course mine, not just as the local MP but also as the DEFRA Environment Minister), so, I was delighted to take part in Somerset Youth Parliament’s Climate Emergency Strategy Event recently to talk about the Governments’ commitment to net zero, moving us to a circular economy, cleaning up the air and water and introducing the new environmental land management scheme for our hard-working farmers. The group was keen to get involved whether by planting trees or encouraging recycling and it was so heartening to see their enthusiasm. I was able to report back from the COP26 pre-launch that I had just spoken at ahead of the actual event which kicks off on November 2nd in Glasgow where I will be directly involved in the nature-based adaptation approach to tackling climate change. I will also be progressing the passage of the Environment Bill through Parliament next week.
Locally I am engaged in finding solutions to the ongoing phosphate pollution issue which is adversely affecting our protected landscape in the Somerset Levels. I realise this is causing difficulties for many and I have been working with all the interested parties to find solutions that will unlock planning permissions, enable sustainable development, farming activities and protect our precious water courses and landscapes from nutrient pollution. Progress is being made on short term solutions, but it is important to determine a long-term strategy in relation to this.
I am also continuing to engage with National Highways regarding the A358 upgrade. The statutory consultation for the Taunton to Southfields Dualling Scheme is open until Monday 22nd November. This has been a long time coming, has been much called for, I was instrumental in achieving an unprecedented second consultation to adjust the proposed route and so now I would urge everyone to feed in so that we get the final route right. https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/south-west/a358-taunton-to-southfields/
I’ve also chaired the latest meeting of our Devon and Somerset Rail group, reporting back on my meeting with the Chancellor to put the case for progressing the proposed rail station in Wellington to the next stage with the funding this will require.