Thursday, 6 August 2020

A new beginning for Wave Hub?

The Wave Hub Project in Hayle was the first commercial scale demonstration project for wave power in the world and when it was originally being developed some ten to fifteen years ago, there was a lot of potential. I always got behind the idea of wave power as part of our renewables energy mix. Here in the far south west we have enormous energy contained within the Atlantic swell. There have been a number of tentative developers who have been close to deploying at wave hub and one that actually did. However, a decade on, it is important to take stock. Some of the technical challenges around harnessing the power of waves have been harder to crack than hoped and, at the same time, offshore wind technology has progressed in leaps and bounds and now makes a major contribution to our national energy needs.
Recognising these developments, Wave Hub is now diversifying its approach and utilising the Wave Hub infrastructure for the deployment of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW). A floating offshore wind turbine is an offshore wind turbine that allows a turbine to generate electricity in water depths where fixed -foundation turbines are not possible but they make use of what is now a mature technology using wind turbines. They are usually placed in shallow waters and are able to reach stronger and more consistent winds than onshore wind turbines. The Celtic Sea is a unique area containing the required depths to build the offshore wind towers required to generate the renewable wind. Moreover placing them out at sea helps to reduce the effect that such an installation would have were it to be inshore.
Floating offshore wind is at a unique point in its development and the opportunity for the Wave Hub site to be used as a base to implement this renewable technology is exciting. In recent months I have been working with the team at Wave Hub to help overcome some of the issues that need to be resolved so that the plan can be progressed. We have made some good progress, but there is still a bit more to be settled.
Camborne, Redruth and Hayle are towns that have always had a rich industrial heritage leading to some of the most important inventions and discoveries that this country has made. Much of the expertise developed here in drilling technology for mining was transferred to drilling for offshore oil and gas with companies like Seacore and LDD at Tolvaddon and these companies are now applying their expertise to offshore renewables. We have the skills locally to make this project succeed, even if by a different route than originally intended.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

The Great British holiday

Parliament has now broken for the summer and I am looking forward to August back in Cornwall to catch up with family and friends. When the lockdown occurred I was in London and needed to stay at that end to deal with the Coronavirus response and some of the daily press conferences.
After months of lockdown it is entirely understandable that many people took the chance to go to Spain for their annual holiday. For a lot of families, they would have booked their holiday at the beginning of the year and won’t get a chance again to take time off year with their children. To try to help these families, the government cautiously lifted the quarantine requirements for some countries where the risk was judged low but we have had to keep the issue under close review. The decision this week to put back quarantine requirements for those returning from Spain shows that we still have to be cautious as we try to live our lives alongside the virus.
For those, however, who do not want to risk travelling abroad, there is of course the great British holiday. Across the country from our golden sandy beaches and beautiful gardens and landscapes in Cornwall, to the rolling hills of the north, Britain has restful landscapes if not always the perfect beach weather! Many of these areas are heavily dependent on tourists who typically visit from Easter until the early autumn, but because of Coronavirus have experienced financial problems. By holidaying here in the UK we can give something back to communities across the country and truly make a difference to their businesses.
My daughter is now coming up to three years old and associates Cornwall with the seaside so I am sure we will be spending some time at Gwithian. Paradise Park is another must visit attraction. They are also home to the World Parrot Trust which does some much conservation work internationally to rescue birds from the illegal trade in endangered birds captured from the wild. Along the Helford we also have some stunning gardens like Trebah and Glendurgan which I hope to get to in the next few weeks and we may venture further afield to the Eden Project.
I hope that in the weeks ahead, many of you will get a chance to have a break. My office remains open if you have a problem that you need help solving. I can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk, by telephone on 0207 219 7032

Thursday, 23 July 2020

My vision for a green recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic

Earlier this week, I gave a speech setting out my vision for how we can recover from the Coronavirus Pandemic. There is no doubt that the impacts of this pandemic will be felt deeply for many years, but the experiences that many have had, have led us to appreciate the difference that nature makes to our lives in a new way. Now more than ever we are reminded that it is in our best interests to look after nature.
When we destroy nature, we undermine our very foundations. Every country faces a choice as they map out their recovery - store up problems by sticking with the status quo, or get back on our feet by building back better and greener. We require a long term approach and political commitment to tackling the environmental challenges, and so we will be publishing a paper that sets out our approach to setting long-term targets on biodiversity, waste, water, and air quality through the new Environment Bill, so they are established in time by October 2022.
Long before the EU, the UK was a driving force in establishing other international conventions to help our natural environment, and now that we are leaving the EU, an opportunity awaits to adapt our approach to the environment. We can borrow approaches that worked in the EU in the past, but we must challenge ourselves to think creatively, to innovate and to consciously avoid clinging to processes and procedures just because they are familiar.
So, as we chart a new course for our approach to protecting the environment, we should recognise that the environment and our ecosystems are a complex web of interactions that mankind will never fully understand let alone manage. We should re-balance the way we approach policy development with more focus on science and technical knowledge and less time fretting about legal risks of doing something new or innovative. We should have fewer reports that say nothing new – but more new ideas that we should actually try. If we are to protect species and habitats and also deliver biodiversity net gain, we need to properly understand the science to inform these crucial decisions. And we should ask ourselves whether the current processes are as effective or efficient as they could be.
At the heart of our approach is a simple premise. If we can improve the baseline understanding of habitats and species abundance across the country in every planning authority, then we can make better decisions towards achieving our vision to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. We can reduce process while simultaneously improving the quality of the data that informs our decisions. We can move quickly to rule out issues that we know don’t exist leaving us time to focus on the protections that matter most for the species and habitats most affected – so we ensure that new developments really do mean a net gain for people and for nature.
In recent decades, our approach to environmental regulation , has been to protect what is left and to stem the tide of decline. However, if we really want to realise the aspirations that the public have for nature then we need policies that will not only protect but that will build back – with more diverse habitats that lead to a greater abundance of those species currently in decline.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Supporting Cornwall’s businesses

In the past few weeks, businesses and workspaces across the country have begun to reopen following their closures as a consequence of the Coronavirus. For many, the past few months have been an extremely challenging time with problems relating to a loss of income and the various other challenges associated with this.
On the 4th July many of these businesses had the opportunity to re-open and I spent the weekend in the constituency meeting people and visiting some of the businesses that were getting ready to start again. All of the businesses had implemented the guidance and social distancing measures required to make their premises COVID-19 secure maintaining the safety of staff and visitors alike.
There have been some great examples of local Cornish businesses stepping in to help during the Coronavirus episode. The Penventon Hotel offered up its rooms for key NHS staff working at Treliske and also set aside a part of the hotel to be a temporary nursing home so that patients could be discharged from hospital earlier and cared for from the hotel. As things start to get back to normal they are now open to the public again and taking bookings for the remainder of the summer.
My visit to Hayle also showed some of the difficulties businesses have as we adjust to reopen again and the different needs of different types of shop. Cornwall Council have been trying to support local town councils with any measures to assist in making social distancing work. On Penpol Terrace a decision had been taken to cone off the roadside parking. The cafes welcomed the move because they wanted to put tables outside on the pavement, however, the other retailers relied on customers being able to pull in and park to go into their shop. In the end, a decision was taken to remove the cones and allow cars to park there again. All of this shows the trial and error nature of the situation we all find ourselves in.
I know that in the weeks and months ahead, many will be apprehensive about the continued re-opening of Cornwall. However, it may take some time to finally see the virus disappear altogether and for the time being, we will all need to learn to live our lives alongside it and that includes finding ways to enable people to safely visit beautiful Cornwall and spend their money here so that our many fabulous restaurants, camp sites and hotels are given a future. There is lots that we can do as individuals to protect ourselves, from regularly washing our hands, to wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and businesses are doing all that they can to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
The next few months are critical to our local economy here in Cornwall. It is vital that we do what we can to support our local shops and high streets whilst also remaining safe.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

A New Deal for Britain and Cornwall

Early last week, the Prime Minister travelled to Dudley and outlined his vision for a “New Deal” that will see an ambitious strategy to rebuild the country, placing jobs, skills and infrastructure investment at the heart of the country’s recovery from Coronavirus.
The past few months have seen many of us contend with the effects of Coronavirus. However, it was good to get out and meet businesses and people on Saturday as many re-opened their doors for the first time since the virus forced them to close. There was good will from everyone, and lots of people venturing out to shop local and support local businesses and our great Cornish economy.
In his speech, the Prime Minister committed to using the coronavirus pandemic to tackle the country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades which successive governments have ducked: to build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK, and to unite and level up.
This is a commitment that I have also worked hard to deliver on since first being elected in 2010. From that first moment, I made clear that the economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority. Over the last 9 years, I have worked hard to achieve this and in recent years we have made progress in regenerating our towns with the new link road, developments around Tuckingmill, the prospect of South Crofty reopening and new jobs in industries like computer software. In Hayle we have the new development at the Harbour attracting jobs and inward development, and in Camborne and Redruth we have seen both towns qualify for huge sums of money to aid in their economic regeneration.
Following the Prime Minister’s speech, there were a number of key announcements, illustrating the Government’s commitment to levelling up Camborne, Redruth and Hayle. As part of a programme to expand classrooms, upgrade facilities and improve the education of children, six schools across the constituency were selected for funding and will see improvements carried out. There was also a further commitment to continue the work of the Camborne Town Board, with an additional £500,000 to spend on projects that will see improvements to the public realm, the high street and other key areas of Camborne. It was also confirmed that the town of Hayle, would also receive funding to help fund projects that will increase the sale and consumption of locally caught seafood.
These were all positive projects and once more showed the government’s promise of delivering for our towns. Too many parts of this country including here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle, have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, and its welcome to see a government committed to levelling up our great towns, providing, jobs, growth and opportunities.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Climate Change

Last week the Climate Change Committee published its report into the progress that the UK is making in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to tackling climate change. As the Secretary of State in Defra I attended their virtual meeting to participate in the discussion about progress to date. Earlier this week, the Council for Sustainable Business also met. This is a new organisation that brings together some of Britain’s largest companies and which coordinates action by individual businesses to play their part for the environment.
Climate change and environmental concerns more widely have risen up the agenda in recent years. Fifteen years ago, David Cameron made it a central part of his agenda. When the Conservatives came to power we brought our environmental agenda with us. As the Committee of Climate Change report acknowledged, a great deal has been achieved. The UK has made significant progress over the last decade and is the best performing G20 country. We have reduced carbon emissions by about forty percent so far and we have ambitious policies that will achieve more in the years ahead. We were the first country to introduce a Climate Change Act which sets targets for emission reduction. We have met the first two carbon budget targets and we are on course to meet the third in a couple of years time. However, everyone recognises that there is more to do to achieve our targets later this decade.
Over the last ten years, the huge strides we have made have been achieved principally through the huge growth of renewable energy. Major technological breakthroughs in offshore wind generation have been a game changer. Here in Cornwall, work is taking place to deploy the next generation of offshore wind in deeper water with floating offshore wind likely to be piloted at Wave Hub.
However, in the years ahead other changes will be made by the government to ensure we remain the global leader in carbon emissions reduction. The technology around electric vehicles is advancing very quickly which means we are on course to phase out the use of petrol and diesel cars. We also have huge ambitions to dramatically increase tree planting and to restore some of our peatland areas to their natural state. Helping nature recover is going to be an incredibly important part of future phases to address climate change.
Next year, the UK will host COP 26, which is the next global meeting of nations to discuss climate change. One of our key objectives from this conference will be to secure greater recognition and more commitments from every country towards nature based solutions to contribute to tackling climate change. I will be working with colleagues in government as we develop this ambitious agenda for the future.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Cornwall is re-opening for business

Over the last twenty years Cornwall has developed a really powerful and unrivalled brand for tourism. The essential ingredients are our beautiful coast and striking landscapes, a warm welcome and our cultural distinctiveness and a fantastic reputation for great food. It has become a vitally important industry for our communities and the drastic measures that have had to be taken to control the Coronavirus have had a terrible impact.
Hospitality businesses always see the Easter break as a turnaround point when they emerge from the winter and start to turn the corner and get positive cash flow again. This Easter, we entered lockdown and they have lost half the season. The government opened some unprecedented support schemes, suspending business rates, issuing grants to small businesses and covering payroll costs for furloughed staff to prevent unnecessary redundancies. However, these could only ever offer temporary respite. Now that we have the virus under control, we need to take further steps to getting back to life closer to normal albeit with vitally important steps to prevent the spread of the virus and keep people safe.
The last few weeks have already brought a reduction in the restrictions with public gardens, parks and zoos tentatively reopening to the public with the evidence detailing that the risk of transmission outdoors is very low. This gradual easing of restrictions has so far been done while the infection rate of the virus has been held stable so far.
Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced the next stage. From Saturday 4th July, pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines. From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England and Cornwall with the reopening of accommodation sites such as campsites and B&Bs that make up many of the unique tourism businesses across Cornwall.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Of course, in the weeks ahead we all have a role to play to ensure that the virus does not re-emerge stronger and effecting more people. The Government’s approach will remain cautious as we seek to control the rate of infection but we are continuing to take steps that can help get people back closer to life as normal. A crucial part to controlling the virus in future will be to closely monitor local outbreaks through testing and tracing the virus and to have very targeted local approaches to asking people to self isolate if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone else who has.
I understand that there will be a degree of apprehension among some about whether Cornwall in particular would become exposed through an influx of visitors. However, it may take some time to finally see the virus disappear altogether and for the the time being, we will all need to learn to live our lives alongside it and that includes finding ways to enable people to safely visit beautiful Cornwall and spend their money here so that our many fabulous restaurants, camp sites and hotels are given a future.