Archive for Environment

‘Help Teesside lead the world’ – Tom’s appeal to Government

Tom has called on the Government to invest in Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU) technology in Teesside as a way to boost investment and job creation in the region.

Tom pointed to the recent success of Carbon Clean Solutions in India which has created technology to capture the CO2 created by an industrial plant and use it to make Baking Soda, on a commercial basis, i.e. without Government subsidy.

The UK Government controversially cancelled a project to help get the industry off the ground in the UK in 2015, which was due to fund starter projects in Teesside, despite warnings that the move could cost thousands of jobs. Last year, a Parliamentary Advisory Group on Carbon Capture and Storage called for greater Government support for the industry and claimed early investment in the technology could save consumers billions.

Tom said:

The Government must act to support CCS and CCU technology now. Teesside in particular could benefit as our area’s industry provides the perfect environment in which to build a commercially viable Carbon Capture sector.

I have written to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ask for a meeting to discuss how this could benefit Teesside and what the Government can do to get this industry going.

Carbon Clean in India have shown that with determination and innovation this can be done. The Government cannot afford to pass up this opportunity which would cut pollution, cut bills, create jobs and bring much needed investment to our area.

I believe the Government can and should help Teesside to lead the world in this relatively new technology.

Tom secures debate to highlight local flooding

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, will today lead an Adjournment Debate in Parliament to discuss flood risk in the North East.

The debate is the latest course of action Tom has taken since the September 2013 floods that devastated many East Cleveland communities and with many still suffering the consequences.

The debate is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 4th June 2014 at around 10pm.

Ahead of the debate Tom said:
“The floods that took place in September last year continue to impact on residents lives to this day; but compared with the attention given to areas affected by the floods earlier this year in, for example, Surrey, it wouldn’t be surprising if people had forgotten or even if they were completely unaware.

“The double standards being used by this Government in terms of doing everything they possibly can to deal with the problems has been, quite frankly, disgraceful.

“Ministers were quite happy to visit our area to deliver some good news but where were they in September when residents were suffering from the sudden flooding. At the time, I requested a meeting with the Secretary of State and called for urgent Government action but I was just palmed off down the rung of ministers.

“I jumped at the chance to secure relief funds for flooding victims when the Prime Minister announced that cash would be available for those impacted, but then that turned out to be a false promise. It seems so unfair that people in East Cleveland are losing out just because, for want of a better phrase, they didn’t get flooded at the time the Government were taking notice.

“I’m very angry at these double standards and I will continue to raise the issue any way I can.”

Environment Agency cash for Saltburn Gill upgrade “a Christmas present for a cleaner Saltburn”

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (December 7th 2012) welcomed the news that the Environment Agency (EA) had now taken a firm decision to both invest hard cash and to begin physical work to clear up Saltburn Gill.

The EA, in a letter to Tom said that, above and beyond the £700,000 already put into the fight against mine water pollution, a further £2 million has been earmarked to clean-up the beck.

Tom said:
“The Agency have confirmed that they will now be using this cash to pump polluted  water from the old mine workings at Skelton until the current discharges dry up, which they say this can take a year. After that, a treatment scheme will be constructed which will filter iron from the mine water before it enters the stream by using a series of ponds. They tell me that this a “tried and tested” process used at over 60 treatment schemes around Britain. This, they say, will take a further five months.

“This is a great Christmas present for Saltburn and is a testament to the work of the local Saltburn Gill Action Group who have been working for the last two years to clean up this stream which runs past the Saltburn foreshore and onto the beach. For my part I have worked hard with the Action Group to ensure this much needed and important funding comes to Saltburn and East Cleveland -especially given the exceedingly high levels of rain fall we have recently witnessed.

“This news means that by late next year we will begin to see a cleaner, greener, beckside environment, which will both make the area more attractive and also save local riverside wildlife and plant life from pollution.  I am really pleased with this announcement.”

Tom urges ‘more action’ from DEFRA ministers as forestry commission reveal wider extent of ash fungus disease

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (8th November 2012) renewed his call for Government environment ministers ‘to show some real action in developing ways to combat fungal disease hitting Ash trees’ as it was confirmed that the Ash tree virus had been found in Guisborough Forest.

Tom said:
“This disease threatens the entire future of the UK Ash tree species. Ashes are one of our traditional trees and make up nearly a third of our entire tree cover and hedgerows.

“This is important locally, as we speak it has been confirmed that the fungus has been found in my constituency at Guisborough forest threatening the Forestry Commission’s work at Guisborough Forest to replace spruce and fir trees with native tree species, including Ash. After fighting to save this forest from possible sell-off by this government, I don’t want it to fall to the axe and the chainsaw.

“It seems that the only action being taken by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to ban Ash tree plant imports – which is like bolting the stable doors after the horses have bolted – and taking the axe on a massive scale to Ash plantations across the nation, which – to me – is simply environmental degradation under a cloak of disease management.

“But there are alternatives and I have called for them to be used. This call has been vindicated. I now hear that scientists believe they might have found a cure for Ash dieback. The ash dieback treatment has been developed by Imperial College and Natural Ecology Mitigation, who have offered the treatment to the Government, but who are frustrated by being told it is “in a queue” for trials by the Forestry Commission, with no date being set for these trials.

“Imperial College scientists say that – if approved – the anti-fungal treatment could be sprayed over large areas from a plane. Put simply, time is of the essence. Ministers should be looking at how we can fast-track this as a matter of utter urgency

“The present approach – felling trees – is simply a scorched earth approach. It the hallmark of an incompetent government and incompetent ministers.”

Saltburn bathing water failure ‘really disappointing’

Commenting on a report released today (6th November) by the Environment Agency (EA) that showed that bathing water in Saltburn has failed to meet mandatory guideline standards, local MP, Tom Blenkinsop, described the news as “really disappointing for residents and tourists” and pledged to ask Ministers to help the EA and Northumbrian Water to help rectify this after the good results we had earlier in the year.

Tom said:
“Naturally I am very disappointed to hear this news as it was only in May this year that the Marine Conversation Society listed Saltburn as ‘the most improved beach’ in the North East. Now we find out that the bathing water has failed to meet strict guidelines it isn’t an understatement to say that it is a hammer blow for the town as the water is used for a variety of activities, including surfing and swimming.

“I understand that the Environment Agency will be working closely with Redcar and Cleveland Council to target potential sources of pollution that may have caused Saltburn to fail. Alongside this, joint investigations with Northumbrian Water who are undertaking a study of storm sewage impacts around the area and I am informed that they have made repairs and are planning a new sewer route for completion before the 2013 bathing water season.

“I will be writing to the Minister, Richard Benyon – who has responsibility for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs – asking for Government assistance to ensure that the EA, local authority and Northumbrian Water are appropriately equipped to rectify the result so that Saltburn can go back to the good results we experienced earlier in the year.

“Saltburn is a unique and vibrant community and the water plays a big part in that, so I hope this matter can be rectified as soon as possible. I will continue to monitor the situation as I know residents were extremely disappointed the last time something similar to this took place.”

Tom urges ‘more action’ from DEFRA Ministers as Forestry Commission reveals wider extent of ash fungus disease

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (31st October 2012) urged Government environment ministers ‘not to be asleep at their desks’ as the Forestry Commission revealed that the real extent of the fungal infestation – which is deadly for younger Ash trees – was spread much wider than Ministers maintained.

Tom said:
“This disease threatens the entire future of the UK Ash tree species. Ashes are one of our traditional trees and make up nearly a third of our entire tree cover and hedgerows. It seems that the only action being taken by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is to ban Ash tree plant imports – tantamount to bolting the stable doors after the horses have bolted – and taking the axe on a massive scale to Ash plantations across the nation, which looks more like environmental degradation than disease management.

“This is important locally, as we speak the Forestry Commission are in full swing on a programme at Guisborough Forest to replace spruce and fir trees with native tree species, including Ash.  After fighting to save this forest from possible sell-off by this government, I don’t want it to fall to the axe and the chainsaw.

“They first knew of this outbreak in February but only now are acting.  We need to mobilise the nation’s scientific expertise, including the natural plant laboratory at Rothampstead to see if they can develop anti-fungal sprays that could kill this disease. A scorched earth approach is just the sign of an incompetent government and incompetent ministers.”

Tom welcomes coin-system to ‘end trolley blight’

Tom Blenkinsop MP today (4th July) welcomed the decision by Tesco Extra in Coulby Newham to implement a coin operation system at the store from 19th July as part of the stores latest effort to cut down on the number of abandoned trolleys in the area.

Tom said:
“I’m pleased that Tesco have finally taken this necessary step to prevent trolleys being abandoned on streets. It was an issue that was blighting areas of Coulby Newham and Hemlington and I had contacted Tesco on numerous occasions to get to grips with the problem.

“Whilst magnetic brakes would be the most ideal solution, I’m confident that the action taken will prove a success and no longer will abandoned trolleys be a feature of the community.”

In the meantime, a trolley collection service is available on 01329 882210 at no cost to the customer other than the original call.

Government must accept forest sell off is now dead after independent panel report

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (4th July 2012) said that the “Government must now accept once and for all that any ideas to sell of forestry land is dead in the water” after an independent panel delivered their report concluding that forest land is valuable to both the community and the environment and should not be put into the hands of the private market.

Tom said:
“As the government set up this panel and appointed the members, they cannot now try to wriggle out of its conclusions. I am aware that commercial interests have been continually lobbying to try and revive the sell-off scheme, fortunately this has not worked. The panel have now concluded that woodland is a key economic resource as well as providing a valuable leisure environment for nearby towns.

“I was very concerned that Guisborough Forest could have been on the sell-off list given the pressure from volume house builders to acquire land for possible developments. If the report is accepted – as I believe it should be – then this possibility is dead and buried.”

Saltburn Beach quality turnaround ‘a credit to local people and local agencies’

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (May 4th 2012) said the news that the Maine Conservation Society (MCS) had – in their 2012 survey of UK Beaches – praised Saltburn Beach for its high quality was a “credit to local people, the local council, the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water for their work in turning around past negative findings.”

The Marine Conservation Society ‘Good Beach Guide’ – published yesterday – listed Saltburn as ‘the most improved beach’ in the North East.  After failing to get on the MCS list last year, it is now graded ‘recommended’ as a beach for bathers, swimmer and surfers.

Tom said:
“Over the past year a lot of work has been put into improving Saltburn Beach and the local seawater to make sure it did not fail as it did last year. Central to this has been the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water and Redcar and Cleveland council and – from my own involvement in this work – I know both the level of work put in and the results.

“This outcome closes the door on past negative results, and opens the door to a new and brighter future for Saltburn beach and the town as a whole. It is a time to celebrate.”

“Housing Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh Only Benefits Banks – Not Areas Like Teesside – Tom Blenkinsop MP

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (8th March 2012) hit out at the announcement that the coalition government’s much vaunted ‘green bank’ will be sited in Edinburgh.

Tom said “For a whole number of reasons this is a loony decision. The government say it is because London and Edinburgh are the financial centres of the country and that this makes it a good fit. It will be a good fit – but for the bankers, not manufacturers. It will mean that decisions will be controlled by financial interests and for financial interests. The logical place would have been in a manufacturing area like Teesside where green industry – in sectors like renewable energy, new leaner chemical processes and clean coal power generation – are already here on the ground. But instead the bank will be just one more bank in the city that gave us Fred Goodwin and RBS.

There is another consideration too. Scotland will be holding their referendum on independence in 2014. This will cast a shadow over the green bank from day 1 and will hinder its growth. This was a wrong decision taken for the wrong reasons and the coalition should think again.”