Thursday, 31 December 2020

Happy New Year

The New Year has always been regarded as a time for hope and optimism. For some, it is a chance to turn over a new leaf, stop smoking or start exercising. For others, it’s a chance to take up a new hobby.  
2020 has been a particularly difficult year and one we will all be happy to turn the page on.  Let’s hope that 2021 is a better year and there are many reasons to be optimistic. Despite a deteriorating situation now, the vaccine for the Coronavirus is being rolled out which means that we should finally start to turn the corner by the Spring. We finish 2020 with an agreement for a future partnership with the EU which finally puts to bed a long-running saga stretching all the way back to 2016.   Compromises had to be made to reach a final conclusion but the agreement reached means we have free trade with the EU but without sacrificing our ability to make our own laws.
Since I was first elected, I have made clear that economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority. Our local towns were once at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none.
The work on Hayle Harbour at North Quay is progressing well with the first phase nearing completion and later phases should progress over the next 18 months or so. I grew up near Hayle and the regeneration of the harbour area has been talked about most of my lifetime. When the project is complete, it will transform the harbour area and will be a major boost to Hayle. It will be good to see the harbour area finally regenerated after decades of being overlooked.
In Redruth, the new Kresen Kernow Archive is an excellent start. Projects like Krowji and the work around the Butter Market also show just what is possible with some imagination, passion and local leadership and we now have funds to help facilitate further work. In recent weeks further funding of an additional £1.68m was announced, by Heritage England, to support the regeneration of the town, particularly focused around Fore Street.  Redruth has some incredible architecture particularly from the Victorian era and the new funds will help to restore some of this. 
Finally, in Camborne, plans to revitalise the town have been stepping up as the Towns Fund Board is continuing its work on a number of interesting ideas that are being talked about including the potential to redevelop the old bus station and breathe new life into the high street. Early in the New Year, decisions will start to be made about the final shape of our town’s bid to secure funds for regeneration.
2020 will certainly be a year to remember, but it has also brought out the best in people. We have seen key workers from the NHS to food production and supply really step up.   As we look forward, we should give thanks to those that have supported us over the last year and reflect back over how we can improve personally in 2021. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Christmas Message

As I write this column, Parliament has just broken up for the Christmas period and the final Christmas Cards have been sent, ready to catch the last post in order to make it before Christmas. This year, as in previous years, I enlisted the help of local primary schools in the area to design my Christmas card. As always, I was very impressed with the many talented artists we have in this part of Cornwall.

2020 has been an unexpectedly difficult year. However, while many have spent much of the year inside and unable to meet with friends or family, it has also brought out the best in people. We have seen how vital the brave frontline workers are to our country, particularly those working in the NHS who have been working tirelessly to protect lives and slow the spread of the virus.

Social distancing has made people value friendships and family connections as many had perhaps started to under-appreciate them, given the frantic pace of life in the modern world. People have also discovered a new connection with the natural world during the full lockdown as access to public spaces was just about all we had.

In an increasingly digital age, where a Facebook post or digital Christmas message has become the norm, it’s refreshing that the tradition of Christmas cards plays a vital role in keeping touch with old friends and family. Throughout life, there are always old friends who we are in danger of losing touch with. Sometimes because they have moved away, changed job or are preoccupied with other priorities. The annual Christmas card is often the final thread that prevents you from losing touch altogether, so time writing cards is time well spent.

We should also be looking ahead to 2021 and the chance to turn the corner in this pandemic and try to get back to life as normal. The UK was the first country to approve the Coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer. This is the culmination of months of rigorous clinical trials and is a brilliant reflection on the world-class scientists and clinicians that we have in the UK. In the months ahead we will be rolling this out to millions of people starting with those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

We should also see 2021 as an opportunity to press reset and build back better from the pandemic. For the first time in nearly 40 years, we will be an independent trading nation, abiding by laws set in our borders, not on the continent. 2021 will be a new start for the UK and I am confident we will seize that prospect readily. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Brexit Update: End of the Transition Period

As I write this it remains unclear whether or not there will be a free trade agreement with the EU and the negotiations, that have been going on for months, hang in the balance.
It is important to remember that this is no longer about “Brexit”.  We left the European Union at the end of January.  We are no longer a member state.   It is also no longer about “no deal”.  There is already a Withdrawal Agreement that is in place and that resolved how border arrangements would work, protected the rights of UK citizens who were resident in the EU and vice versa and settled how remaining EU funding programmes would be treated.   Last week, discussions on the precise technical arrangements to make things work smoothly in Northern Ireland were finalised and agreed.  
After we left the EU in January, there was an 11 month “Transition Period” during which current trading arrangements remained in place and both parties agreed to discuss what tariffs there might be on goods that are traded from 2021 onwards.  The Government has always been clear that it is not asking the EU to agree on anything exceptional or unusual in such an agreement.  We simply seek an off-the-shelf free trade agreement similar to the one that the EU has with countries like Canada or South Korea.  This would enable us to cooperate on trade and reduce tariffs in both directions but, crucially, not compromise our ability to make our own laws in future.
The sticking points in the discussions all stem from the fact that the EU has been in denial about the fact that we are no longer a member state and that we are now an independent, sovereign country again. They are seeking to retain all the privileges they enjoyed while we were a member.   Therefore they continue to request the same fishing access rights to our waters when that is no longer possible under international law.  They have also been trying to get us to agree to align our regulations with theirs but the whole point of leaving the EU is to regain control of our own laws.
Many people are concerned that any “deal” will constrain us and some will be thinking we should just walk away without a further agreement and let tariffs be applied.  After all, the EU has more to lose from tariffs being applied than the UK because they are so dependent on access to our market to sell their goods.  It may well come to that and only time will tell.  However, the EU is our nearest neighbour and, although this is very frustrating, it is right to persevere for now to try to agree on future arrangements on trade.  Eventually, the EU will reconcile themselves to the fact that we have become an independent country again and, after years of fraught negotiations, we should seek to rekindle good relations with our neighbours when that time comes.

Thursday, 10 December 2020

The Approval of the Vaccine

 Last week the UK became the first country to approve the Coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and this week deployment of it began. Developing a successful vaccine has been the only way out of this difficult pandemic and a huge amount of work has gone into dozens of different candidate vaccines as the world has wrestled with this most difficult challenge.

The government accepted the recommendation from the Independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use. This is the culmination of months of rigorous clinical trials and is a brilliant reflection on the world-class scientists and clinicians that we have in the UK. The MHRA is confident that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. 

It was clear from the outset that producing a safe and effective vaccine quickly would be a huge challenge. The reality is that most vaccine projects fail and vaccines usually take many years to discover and develop. But some big advances in vaccine technology emerged over the past decade and they have come right to the fore in this pandemic.

Time has been of the essence, but science cannot simply cut corners. It is a discipline that works only if it is rigorous, transparent, scrutinised by regulators, and its findings published and peer-reviewed. Everything from the laboratory work through to the clinical trials is pored over by independent experts in the regulatory agencies. The approval of this first vaccine is a huge breakthrough in our fight against this virus.

However, we cannot let our guard down yet. Keeping the infection rate low is vital because that's what will allow us to push the virus into the ground as quickly as possible once vaccinations begin. Back in September and October, the virus was spreading rapidly in all parts of the country. As a result, the government responded with new national restriction measures and this brought the R number down and the virus back under control. The newly revised tier system will help ensure we do not waste that success and keep the numbers down.

The vaccine will be rolled out in earnest over the next few weeks with the first doses arriving at hospitals and care homes across Cornwall this week. The priority will be to vaccinate those most at risk in our society, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable, from there other age groups will be vaccinated in turn. The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust is one of the 50 designated 'vaccine hubs' that will distribute the inoculations. Around 800,000 doses are expected to be delivered this week to hubs all over the country, with millions more in the coming weeks.

If we can keep the spread of the virus under the control over the next few weeks and months and remain cautious over the winter, then we can see light at the end of the tunnel and could turn the corner in Spring or early summer and finally get back to normal life again.


Thursday, 3 December 2020

National Grief Week

This week is National Grief Awareness Week 2nd to 8th December.  Of course, we have got used to the growing number of “days” and “weeks” designated by campaign groups or charities seeking to raise awareness of their particular issues.  However, every single one of us, at some point in our lives, will lose someone close to us, so bereavement and grief affects us all.

 

Some experience grief instantly, others seem to cope but are then affected some years later. Some put on a brave face, others pour their heart out. But the first time anyone loses an immediate family member is often the hardest. There is never any shortage of well-intentioned advice about the need to 'move on' and 'get on with life' but that's not always helpful.

 

I remember an experienced volunteer at the Samaritans once telling me that losing someone close to you is a bit like losing a limb. You never really get over it but you do get used to it and can eventually learn to cope. Anniversaries of the date that a loved one was lost are often particularly difficult as can be family events like Christmas when the absence is felt more keenly.

 

In this current year, the measures that have had to be taken to control the Coronavirus have created new challenges.   Many will have lost loved ones this year, but the myriad of restrictions and limitations have left some feeling unable to come to terms with the loss.  It has been more difficult to visit loved ones in the hospital, funerals have been closed to all but the immediate family.   Families have not been able to reach out to relatives and friends for a much-needed hug and human connection, making the process more difficult than it already is.  Picking up the phone to those who have suffered a loss has never been more important and, when this pandemic is over, there will doubtless be many memorial services held in lieu of the funerals that could never fully be held so that we can properly remember those who were close to us.

 

The local charity, Penhaligons Friends, based in Redruth does fantastic work to support children and young people who have suffered a bereavement.  Learning to cope is every bit harder for teenagers who have a lot of emotional changes in their life as it is, and younger children who often struggle to understand why such a tragedy has happened to them and can often feel it might even be their fault and need reassurance. Penhaligon’s Friends is there for these children and teenagers. It has built up over 80 volunteers across Cornwall and, at any one time, will be helping and supporting hundreds of Cornish children. The charity runs some excellent support groups where young people going through the same grieving process can share their feelings and receive support. The volunteers have seen a lot of tragedy but, over the years, they have helped thousands of young people come to terms with what life has dealt them.

 

There are many other support groups available. At Heartlands, for instance, there is regular a grief café available and volunteers will be available locally to support you if you should need it. You can find more details by going to the Good Grief Trust’s website. SEE HERE


Thursday, 26 November 2020

The Green Industrial Revolution

Last week the Prime Minister announced the Government’s new 10-point agenda for a green industrial revolution, setting out an ambitious plan for clean energy, transport and nature using innovative technologies. The Coronavirus Pandemic has led us to appreciate the difference nature makes to our lives. Now more than ever, we are reminded of the importance of looking after our natural environment. The Government is committed to placing the environment at the heart of national recovery as we build back better and greener from the pandemic. 

The plan will bring new investment in hydrogen, nuclear and wind power helping transform the national grid, ending reliance on fossil fuels. By 2030, the government will quadruple the amount of offshore wind power we are producing, enough to power every home and supporting up to 60,000 jobs. Cornwall will be a beneficiary of this particular part of the new plan, with the Celtic Sea offering the required depths to build the offshore wind towers. In Hayle, the Wave Hub project has diversified in recent years utilising its existing infrastructure for the deployment of Floating Offshore Wind. Placing the turbines out at sea helps to reduce the disruption and enhance their efficiency.

In addition to wind power, the government will expand the use of other clean energy sources such as hydrogen and nuclear power. Working with industry, the government is aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030, creating the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade. Advancing nuclear power as a clean energy source, including the development of small and advanced reactors, will allow the UK to become less reliant on fossil fuels for our energy supply. Last week I met a group of entrepreneurs working on plans to build a new sustainable commercial laundry powered by Hydrogen as well as a research facility to develop this technology. 

The new renewable sources of electricity will allow us to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles and revolutionise our transport infrastructure. To achieve this, we will invest £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charging points and nearly £500 million in development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries. Cornwall is a natural source of lithium which is an important part of electric car battery production. Cornish Lithium is prospecting for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites, including in South Crofty. This creates an exciting opportunity for Cornwall to be at the forefront of this transport revolution.

Since being elected, I have prioritised economic regeneration and green recovery.  Cornwall leads the way in some of the green technologies of the future, bringing new jobs and investment to Cornwall.  The UK has made great progress in de-carbonising our electricity generation with carbon emissions falling by about 40% as the technology around offshore wind was perfected and we are now starting to see the same happen in other areas.  Camborne, Redruth and Hayle have always had a rich industrial heritage leading to some of the most important inventions and discoveries that this country has made. Hopefully, this will continue as we create a cleaner and more resilient society over the next decade.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Cornwall with Simon Reeve

 The new BBC documentary on Cornwall by Simon Reeve which started this week is a thoughtful project which could bring to life some of the broader challenges and issues that Cornwall faces, but also to show the rest country some of our unique characteristics.  Beautiful though our coastline is, there is more to Cornwall than beaches and the programme has the opportunity to explore these.

Camborne featured quite heavily in the first episode with the charitable work of Don Gardner being rightly recognised and with a tour of South Crofty mine and the potential for it being reopened also explored.  My family have lived in this area for some 400 years and have lived through the changing fortunes of my home towns.  At the peak of the tin mining era, Redruth was one of the wealthiest towns in the country and you can still see today in the beautiful Victorian architecture around the town the legacy of that wealth.  In Camborne, Holmans developed into a world-beating engineering company exporting its technology around the world employing thousands.  It was still a major employer when I was growing up in the late 70s and early 80s and when it finally closed it was a blow to the fortunes of our town.  There were other successful local companies like the Tyacks Group, which my grandfather was involved with.  

The loss of Holmans was a bitter blow and did lead to some deprivation and initially high unemployment.  However, there has also been great resilience in our community.  Many of the apprentices who worked at Holmans went on to set up their own businesses.  Today we have some new, world-beating engineering firms like Large Diameter Drilling (LDD) at Tolvaddon and DP Engineering which continue the tradition of precision engineering and drilling technology while great local companies like Teagle continue to do well.  We have also seen a new computer software industry develop in a cluster around Pool with companies like BlueFruit and Headforwards Software growing exponentially and with the computer software sector now employing about 500 people on good salaries in our area.  We have a new Cornwall Archive on the site of the old Redruth Brewery and the regeneration of Hayle Harbour now fully underway and unemployment is actually below the national average.

In common with many other areas around the country, we have pockets of deprivation and we need to address that by continuing to increase the National Living Wage to help those on the lowest incomes, attract new industries and better-paid jobs and also support the excellent schools we have locally who at raising aspirations so that young people growing up in our area today can take those new jobs. 

However, while recognising some of the challenges we must not undermine the self-confidence of our area. Once again, Pengegon was singled out for coverage in the documentary. I remember Claire Arymar, a community co-ordinator in Pengegon, telling me those who lived there often felt patronised by people constantly going there to talk about poverty when actually they were a community who looked out for one another and had resilience; not everyone wanted to go to the beach, and it wasn’t always helpful to tell them they should. We have a history to be proud of and great ability and expertise still to draw upon, and it is very important that we instil the confidence in the next generation to fulfil their potential.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Remembrance Day

The current lockdown meant that we were not able to mark Remembrance Sunday in the way that we normally would.  While wreaths have been laid at memorials across the country, there have not been the usual services or parades.  However, on both Sunday and Wednesday, many people across Cornwall and the country will have paused to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.

This year is an important anniversary on multiple fronts.  It is the 75th Anniversary since the end of the Second World War, a conflict that had theatres in almost every continent and saw millions engaged in fighting. This year is also the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain where RAF pilots from all over the world fought to defend our island from an invasion. Many of the men who flew the Spitfires and Hurricanes were as young as 18 or 19 and showed tremendous bravery in such a critical battle that was the first big setback for Hitler and started to turn the tide of events.

The war with Japan is sometimes overlooked when people think of the Second World War but we should also remember all those who served in the Far East during the Second World War.   The jungle terrain meant that different tactics had to be deployed with troops often defending patches of territory in a box formation and supplied by air. The battles saw some of the most bitter, close-quarter fighting of the whole war.  There was also a lot of suffering among those captured and held in prisoner of war camps, particularly after the fall of Singapore.
This year our armed forces have been called on again to play their part helping communities deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.  They have helped run testing centres and have supported the supply of PPE all over Cornwall and the South-West and will be playing their part to support communities again over the winter.
This week there has been some encouraging news regarding the potential for one of the candidate vaccines being developed by Pfizer with another from Astra Zeneca not far behind.  It appears to give 90 percent protection and has been developed using some groundbreaking techniques.  The solution to the problems of this pandemic can only be finally resolved with a successful vaccine and this is showing light at the end of the tunnel.  If we can get the spread of the virus under the control over the next few weeks and then remain cautious over the winter, then as we head into the spring perhaps deep, owing a vaccine more widely we might finally start to see life return to normal.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

The Return of Lockdown

We wanted to avoid a second lockdown and did everything we could to try different approaches with regional and local measures to contour, the spread of the virus.  However, in this country, as across much of Europe, the virus is accelerating.  Crucially, although the prevalence in places like Cornwall has been lower than other parts of the country, the infection rate has been growing exponentially, with new cases doubling within just a week.  The rate of growth in infections in Cornwall was one of the fastest in the country and the projections showed that left unchecked, Cornwall would be in a similar situation to some of the Northern cities by the end of the month.
In Cornwall, we also have an older population and because we are at the end of the line, it is harder to share resources around the NHS so the capacity to deal with a surge in demand is more limited.  If we failed to take action, then there was a real risk of the NHS being overwhelmed and of depriving non-Covid patients of the care that they need from the NHS. As a result, the Prime Minister has announced that we will return to a full national lockdown from Thursday until December.
This lockdown will be similar to the first in many ways, however, schools will remain open. The impact of closing schools on the mental health of young people and on their education and life chances means that we should do all we can to ensure that schools can remain open.  We tend to think about the impact of the virus on the older generation because they are more susceptible but the measures being taken to control it have an impact on younger people too.  It is important that they have access to social contact to develop their confidence.  The economic disruption caused by the last lockdown has affected many who started apprenticeships and left others more doubtful about their future careers.  For all these reasons we need to try to keep schools open.
As of Thursday, 5th November, all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés will have to close unless for takeaway service. Non-essential shops, leisure, gyms and entertainment venues will also close. In response to the further impact this will have on businesses and livelihoods, the government is extending the furlough scheme until December to protect jobs and there is a further tranche of crisis grants available to help smaller businesses with their fixed costs. However, there is no doubt that a second lockdown will have a cumulative impact on the financial stress facing some businesses.
During the last nine months, we have all looked out for each other and pulled together to support one another as a community. Our unique Cornish spirit has shone through, however, in the weeks ahead we all need to draw on this again and continue to support one another through these difficult times.
My office will still be working hard to support people through this period. I am doing regular telephone surgeries to discuss issues with local residents. If you have an issue that you would like to discuss with myself or the team that supports me then please call 01209 713355 or email george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk.



Thursday, 29 October 2020

Regenerating Redruth

Since I was first elected, I have always made clear that economic regeneration in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle was my number one priority. Our local towns were once at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none.

At the height of the tin mining era, Redruth was once one of the wealthiest towns in the land. As the tin mines closed, the fortunes of our local towns like Redruth fell behind other parts of the country but today there remains a legacy of that era with some fabulous and unique architecture in the town. All too often the political attention was on big northern cities, but now we have an opportunity to reset this imbalance and deliver the economic regeneration that our towns and communities need.

A fundamental issue for our part of Cornwall is economic regeneration and how we can make sure our towns get back on their feet and revive. The way people shop has gone through fundamental change and recent events will have accelerated some trends further. Thirty years ago we saw major destination retailers all start to congregate in Truro and towns like Camborne and Redruth lost out and some of the excellent independent department stores were lost. Now, shopping is moving online at great pace and that has left places like Truro in a very vulnerable position.

We therefore need to think about our towns differently in the future.  It may be that the 20th century model of retail taking over the town centre and residential being primarily on estates around the outskirts of town has run its course. We need to get better at making our town centres more of a mixed space for living and working and improving the public realm and streetscape. As more people opt to be self-employed and often make use of digital media to work from home, there is likely to be a change in what our towns are for in the decades ahead. 

In Redruth, the new Kresen Kernow Archive is an excellent start. Projects like Krowji and the work around the Butter Market also show just what is possible with some imagination, passion and local leadership and we now have funds to help facilitate further work. In recent weeks further funding of an additional £1.68m was announced, by Heritage England, to aid in the regeneration of the town. The scheme will focus around Fore Street, increasing its attractiveness to a wider range of residents and visitors and better exploiting its potential.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen many high-streets all over the country suffer from a lack of footfall. When we turn the page on this terrible setback we need to think creatively about how to build back better and allow our town centres to find new purpose.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Sport and Community

When the pandemic is finally over, there will be some areas where people will be determined to return to life as it was before but there will be other areas where people will reflect and seek a change in the balance of their lives. Social distancing has made people value friendships and family connections as many had perhaps started to under-appreciate them, given the frantic pace of life in the modern world. People have also discovered a new connection with the natural world during the full lockdown as access to public spaces was just about all we had. 
One area where I think people are determined to see a return to life as it was before will be sports, and perhaps where we will see even more interest is in our many vibrant sports clubs locally. Groups from Cornwall Athletic Club to all our rugby, football and cricket clubs have seen a growth in membership in recent years and I hope this resumes. 
I recently met the dedicated volunteers of Troon Amateur Football Club, at Grouter Park. They are a fantastic example of a local community project that we can be proud of and have played an important role in our community for 50 years. Membership has grown significantly recently and they are engaging children and young people of all ages and abilities. They field three teams in the Cornwall disAbility League, eleven youth teams in the Kernow League, two senior teams and even a “walking football” team. They have worked incredibly hard on plans to build a new clubhouse and facilities at the site and have already secured some important pledges of support. This is a project that deserves backing.
Despite the old stereotype of the brainy children at school being the less sporty, there is a lot of evidence that physical activity and fitness can boost the performance of the brain. There has also been a concern in recent years about the growing problem of childhood obesity. The growth of electronic-games and computers means that some children are less active now than in the past and it requires a special focus on sports to try to counterbalance that development. Cornwall is blessed with a magnificent coastline allowing a whole range of sporting activities that are not realistic prospects in other parts of the country, from surfing to sailing and many others. At Stithians reservoir, we also have the best site in the UK for windsurfing. Everyone can find something that they enjoy or are good at, keeping themselves both mentally and physically healthy.
When I was growing up, my passion was running and I will never forget the volunteers at Cornwall Athletic Club who gave up their time to coach us, drive the minibus to competitions at the weekend and act as officials at all the events. Quite often, these volunteers started because their own children were interested in the sport, but once involved, they were committed and would often stay involved for many years after their children had moved on. Above all, it is volunteers today who keep all of our sports clubs going from rugby and football to cricket, swimming and dance.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Hayle

Last week I visited North Quay to see the current development that has been under construction since the summer and which is starting to take shape quickly. I grew up near Hayle and the regeneration of the harbour area has been talked about most of my lifetime. I can remember in the mid 1980s the attempt by Peter DeSavary to bring a project forward that didn’t get off the ground. In fact, one Hayle historian once showed me a book written around the time of the First World War that said “plans to develop Hayle Harbour have been delayed due to the war.” So perhaps it goes back even further!
There were then a couple more aborted attempts around the turn of the millennium before ING Bank of all people ended up the reluctant owners of the site as the result of one of their clients going in to administration. Progress on plans was then made. Having grown up around the history of false starts for Hayle, when I was first elected in 2010, the Hayle Harbour regeneration was one of the projects that I really applied my self to. I lobbied government to secure grants of around £5 million to improve the infrastructure to North Quay, put in the new bridge and to repair the harbour walls and raise levels to deal with flood risk. I spent many tortuous hours trying to broker an agreement between the local community, who wanted to project to move forward, and English Heritage, a government agency, which kept coming up with different objections.
We got there in the end and the ASDA supermarket was built on South Quay. It took a while for the design to grow on local people but it reflected the accommodation with Natural England and the architecture has now been recognised as a good example of what can be achieved on sites like this when people put their minds to it. ING then sold the rest of the site as they withdrew from the UK. The supermarket was only ever supposed to be the first stage of the regeneration. The final aim was to transform North Quay and have additional residential development and commercial property on South Quay. Sadly, in the past few years things have stalled again but that is now changing and work is underway.
The current first phase of the development along North Quay will be for high specification apartments. There will be around 150 in all and many of these have already been sold off plan. It is likely that the first residents will start to move in around Christmas and things will be well underway by next summer. Once again, the design of the buildings has been chosen to reflect the industrial legacy of the site to accommodate the views of Natural England. The North Quay area was the location of the local Hayle Power Station and an ICI factory and the view is that the buildings should have a nod to this past with an industrial or wharf side feel to the development.
Alongside some of the residential development, there will also be commercial space and restaurants within the development. There are also later phases planned above the Quay and around the fields at Riviera Farm. Initial ground work has already commenced and these later phases should progress over the next 18 monthsor so. When this project is complete, it will transform the harbour area and will be a major boost to Hayle. It will be good to see the harbour area finally regenerated after decades of being overlooked. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

A new vision for skills

On Tuesday last week, the Prime Minister visited Exeter where he announced in a major speech, plans to transform the provision of skills so that more people can retrain and find new, well-paid jobs as we Build Back Better from the Coronavirus Pandemic.
I have always been a strong advocate for apprenticeships and the skills agenda. When I was a student, I studied at Cornwall College between 1987 and 1990 for a BTEC National Certificate in Business Studies and then after that a City and Guilds in Agricultural Management. I have always looked back fondly on my time at Cornwall College and valued the skills that I learnt at the college.
The College has a deep-rooted history in our area and has been at the heart of all further and higher education in Cornwall for the last 80 years or so. It is a vital local asset delivering work-based learning in our area. Until recently there were around 800 apprentices currently training in areas such as plumbing, carpentry and engineering.
Colleges and higher education providers such as Cornwall College will be vital to people’s prospects and chances as a result of the changing economy and the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Work is changing, and it is important that people develop the skills they need to create new and better jobs.
As part of the plans, the government will rapidly expand post-18 education and training. From April adults without an A-Level or qualification will be able to take up the chance of a free and fully funded college course, paid for through the National Skills Fund with the list of available courses to be published shortly.
Further to this, education loans will be made more flexible – allowing adults and young people to choose the length and type of course that is right for them allowing them to take more high-quality vocational courses and to support them to retrain for jobs of the future. But if we’re to encourage more people to pursue a skills-based education then it is important that they have access to the best facilities, and therefore the government are investing over £1.5 billion in capital funding so that our colleges are excellent places for people to learn.
Businesses will also be encouraged to support more apprentices with the government paying businesses £1,000 to take on trainees with £111 million to triple the scale of traineeships which consist of work experience placements, training and work preparation for 16-24 year olds. We know that there is more that can be done and central to this work will be making apprenticeship training work better alongside modern and flexible working practices in construction and the creative industries so that more examples are available. 
Further details of the government’s plans will be announced in the months ahead but providing people with the ability to gain the skills they need may be transformational in the years to come.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

An historic moment for our fishing communities

Yesterday marked an historic moment for fishing. We have entered into our first fisheries agreement as an independent coastal state, an important step in building a prosperous future for the UK fishing industry. That includes our fishing communities here in Cornwall, from Newlyn to Mevagissey and Hayle to Looe.
The UK-Norway Fisheries Framework Agreement was negotiated between the UK and Norway as independent coastal states, through friendly cooperation as sovereign equals. It reflects our rights under international law and makes clear that the UK will be an ambitious, constructive, and pragmatic partner to like-minded fishing nations as we leave the Common Fisheries Policy.
After 40 years, we finally have our own seat at the fisheries negotiating table rather than being represented by the European Commission. In all our negotiations, we will work with other North Atlantic states, like Norway or the Faroes, to insist on a fairer approach. We can work together to manage our fisheries flexibly, responsively, and responsibly – negotiating access to waters and fishing opportunities annually so we can make decisions based on the latest science and the health of our fish stocks.
The agreement we have reached with Norway shows what can be achieved when both parties take a sensible approach to negotiations. We are taking the same approach to fisheries negotiations with the European Union, and have been clear that we want a fairer, more prosperous, and more sustainable future for our fisheries.
The Fisheries Bill sets out a new framework to allow us to manage fisheries outside the CFP, and gives the UK control of our waters and the opportunity to set fishing opportunities. We have the power to decide who can access UK waters and on what terms – ensuring that our fishing fleets can prosper.
For too long, we have only caught about half of the fish in our waters. And for too long, a ‘one size fits all’ mindset in Brussels has seen targets, measures, rules, and regulations swell rather than fish stocks – with too much reporting and too little action to improve sustainability and resilience.
Our approach will adapt to the latest scientific evidence, respond to technological innovation, and work transparently with local industry and local communities. And we are leading calls to end the wasteful discarding of fish at sea, working on an approach that will mean all catches can be landed, while preventing over-fishing.
Now that we have left the EU we have a great opportunity to chart a new course for our fishing industry and we owe it to our hard-working fishing communities to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to take back control of our natural resources. Through agreements like the one we have signed with Norway, we will help them access the sea’s riches, while restoring our fish stocks to healthy levels so we achieve a better balance for the future.

Thursday, 24 September 2020

COVID-19 - An Update

Trying to get back to living our lives as a close as possible to normal while accepting that we will all be living alongside the cornonavirus for some time to come is a great frustration for everyone. It is frustrating for restaurants and other businesses trying to get back in the saddle, for children and young people trying to resume their education and local sports clubs, bands and choirs who have all seen their activities severely disrupted.
In common with other viruses like the flu virus, the transmission rate is clearly linked to seasonal factors. Southern Hemisphere countries like South Africa and Australia saw huge peaks during their winter in late July with the disease then tapering off. We managed to loosen the restrictions and measures over the summer but we are now seeing a growth in infection rates again. The government has been closely monitoring the position over the last four weeks. This week it became clear that we are on a similar trajectory to some other European countries like France. The infection rate is doubling roughly every 7-10 days. Also in common with other countries, the trend has tended to be that infection picks up first among young people aged between 18-22 before broadening out to other age groups.
We have learnt quite a lot about the virus over the last nine months so this week the Prime Minister outlined a tightening of some of the measures now in order to avoid another lockdown situation later. A stitch in time saves nine, as the saying goes, and the idea behind the announcements this week is that if we act now to dampen the spread, then we can keep schools open, allow pubs and restaurants to continue to trade and enable people to continue to work.
So to ensure all this can happen, the mandatory use of face masks is being extended to other settings, there is going to be a new 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants and a requirement for table service in those settings to avoid people mixing. There will also be more action to enforce some of the measures we have in place now. As time has gone on people’s willingness to abide by some of the restrictions has waned but as we head into winter, we do now need people to become more vigilant again. None of these decisions are easy and they will, of course, lead to new frustrations for many businesses but if we all take special care now, we are better placed to get through the winter.
My office in Camborne is still opening to assist people with problems in their lives but to reduce the risk of the virus we are encouraging people, wherever possible, to contact us by email or telephone. I am also doing regular telephone surgeries to discuss issues with local residents. If you have an issue that you would like to discuss with elf or the team that supports me then please call 01209 713355 or email george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Protecting the Integrity of the United Kingdom

Seven months ago, on 31st January the UK left the European Union. In the time since, the Government have been working hard to get a future free trade agreement that builds on what has already been agreed and delivers a future trading relationship that is in the interest of both the UK and the European Union.
The Withdrawal Agreement itself recognised that there were a few loose ends and points of detail relating to how the agreed arrangements in Northern Ireland would work in practice. To work through these a Joint Committee was established so that UK and EU officials could work through these points of detail and that work is ongoing. It looks at minor technical details such as how the agreed approach to tariff procedures would work and what sorts of checks would be required for different goods. However, in the event that there remain some unresolved issues at the end of that process, it may well be necessary for Parliament to legislative to provide the necessary legal certainty and clarity that business needs and that is one of the issues debated this week through a new Internal Market Bill. I think it is essential that Parliament has the necessary powers to act where necessary to give legal effect to the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement and therefore fully back the measures brought forward.
Discussions on a future trade agreement are continuing but there are several important sticking points which require the EU to become more realistic if a trade agreement is to be concluded. Firstly, the EU have been making unrealistic asks regarding the future of fishing access which is of great importance to the west country. We are not requesting anything extraordinary. The UK simply wants to be like Norway and to control access to its own waters as provided for in international law and as every other independent country does. Secondly, the EU are requesting that we continue to follow their laws in some areas like the approach to subsidies and state aid. Obviously neither of the positions currently held by the EU are acceptable given that we are leaving the EU and re-establishing our independence.
The reason we need the Bill is that the EU have begun to say that unless we agree to their terms, they may attempt to use an extreme interpretation of the Northern Ireland protocol to impose a full-scale trade border down the Irish sea. Moreover, EU negotiators have said that they might not only impose tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, but that they might actually stop the transport of food products from GB to NI essentially blockading one part of the UK to cut it off and destroy the economic and territorial integrity of the UK. It is possible that if and when the moment comes, the EU would think better of such a course but a responsible government must ensure it has the necessary powers to protect the integrity of the UK and to stand behind the Belfast agreement that we are a party to. Only the UK has the ability to legislate to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland and that is why this Bill is important.
We have left the EU, and although the EU may not have reconciled itself with that, they should be aware that the UK is serious about its new found sovereignty. As the world’s fifth largest economy with world leading expertise in science, finance and industry, we have an incredibly strong hand of cards to play as we go out into the world as a sovereign, independent nation.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Helping others during difficult times

Throughout the last few months, on every front, we have all had to try to work out how to return to something closer to normal life while recognising that we have to live alongside the virus for some time to come. Measures we have put in place have evolved from a full lockdown to steps that reduce the transmission of the disease through observing social distancing, wearing face masks and having localised restrictions where there are flare ups.
In the search for normality, many of us have taken up the opportunity to support local businesses which are so vital to our local economy here in Cornwall. Part of this has seen people partake in the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme which throughout August, saw more than 100 million meals eaten, helping to protect the livelihoods of 1.8million people in the hospitality industry. On a local level we saw more than 128,000 meals claimed with 119 restaurants and hospitality businesses signed up to the scheme across the constituency.
The scheme has been a fantastic success and nationally has been credited with protecting 1.8million jobs across the country with restaurant bookings significantly up on the previous year. The Government recognises that the hospitality industry may continue to experience further difficulties in the months ahead and will continue to provide support with a temporary discount to VAT, from 20 per cent to 5 per cent, until 12 January 2021.
Across the South West, this message of the Government working to support businesses and the self-employed, has been clear for many to see with over £2billion in government grants being provided. The data confirms that Cornwall has received £246million in grants for businesses and highlights the unprecedented package of support to protect lives and livelihoods as we continue to work hard to protect, support and create jobs to ensure we come back stronger.
I know that in the weeks and months ahead, many will be apprehensive as schools return and many return to offices. It is also the case that the infection rate is starting to rise again and this is causing concern and means we now need to strengthen some of the rules around meetings in groups. A particular concern is younger people aged 18-24 who have been gathering in larger groups again and this is where the infection rate is starting to increase.
The new measures introduced this week are a reminder that we are far from being out of the woods. 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.
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, 3 September 2020

Parliament returns

Earlier this week, Parliament returned from the summer recess, with a number of important issues and debates to be had. For many, Monday also marked the point in which schools and offices began to return in a safe way. Understandably people will continue to have concerns about COVID-19, but I know that the government is working with businesses, schools and local communities to help further reduce the spread of the virus and keep people safe.
One of the questions that is often asked to MPs when they return from the summer recess, is what their priorities are for the term ahead. Locally there are a number of important projects that I have been working on for some time and which are moving forward. In Hayle some years after the first phase of the harbour regeneration, and the marine business park, we are now seeing the new housing development that was always planned along North Quay. In Camborne and Redruth, we have also seen discussions continue about how best to utilise the funds that have been provided to them to aid in their economic regeneration. There is an opportunity to do something different with the bus station area in Camborne which could change the town centre and a number of candidate projects to help restore historic buildings in Redruth.
In parliament and in my role as Environment Secretary, there are also a number of priorities that we are working on. On Tuesday, the Fisheries Bill returned to the House of Commons for its Second Reading. As we leave the EU we have a great opportunity to chart a new course for our fishing industry. The current quota sharing arrangement within the EU is profoundly unfair to the UK fleet. Here in Cornwall French Fishermen receive about five times as much haddock quota as local Cornish Fishermen’s which can’t be right. The Common Fisheries Policy also guaranteed access to EU vessels in UK waters. The Bill gives us the powers to control access to our waters in future with all foreign vessels requiring a licence stating where they can fish and what they can catch and it gives new powers to improve the marine environment and a requirement for objectives and plans to deliver sustainable fishing in line with the science.
In the months ahead, I know that families and people across the constituency will have concerns about what may happen with their jobs, or whether there will be a second COVID spike in cases. My office remains open if you have a problem that you need help solving or advice on difficult matters. I and my team can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or by telephone on 0207 219 7032.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Return of schools

Throughout the last few months, on every front, we have all had to try to work out how to return to something closer to normal life while recognising that we have to live alongside the virus for some time to come. measures we have put in place have evolved from a full lockdown to steps that reduce the transmission of the disease through observing social distancing, wearing face masks and having localised restrictions where there are flare ups.
In recent weeks schools have been doing a lot of work to identify steps that will enable all children and young people to resume their education. For many pupils, next week will be the first time that they have returned to school since the beginning of lockdown in March.
During lockdown, parents quickly adapted to the situation educating their children at home and teachers found innovative ways to teach through the internet and other programmes. It was a national challenge but one in which parents and teachers alike played their part and helped to ensure that children kept learning through difficult circumstances.
However, we now need to ensure that children can resume their education in school safely. Time spent out of class means lower average academic attainment and its vital that we ensure that the Coronavirus pandemic does not have a lasting impact on their future. Moreover, the return to the classroom is also crucial for the welfare and health of children. Socialising with friends, playing sports, and exploring creative subjects are all important parts of how children grow up and learn.
I understand that many will have concerns about COVID-19 in schools. The country’s Chief Medical Officer has said that there is only an exceptionally small risk from COVID-19 in the classroom, and I know that headteachers, governors and all who work in our schools are working hard to ensure that our schools are as safe as possible. Guidance published by the government will be closely adhered although different schools will have different settings and different issues to resolve but everyone will be working hard to keep our children safe.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Supporting our students

When the country entered the lockdown phase some time ago now, one of the decisions initially taken to protect people and stop the spread of the virus was for schools to only remain open for parents of key workers. A consequence of this was that children across the country partook in online learning with many teachers coming up with innovative methods of teaching. At the same time the Secretary of State for Education confirmed that assessments and exams would not be taking place this year and that work was underway with the sector and Ofqual to ensure that young people would receive the qualifications they need.
Whilst it was not possible for exams to go ahead the Department for Education worked with Ofqual to identify a way of awarding grades in conjunction with schools and assessment centres. Undoubtedly there would be limitations to such an approach, however an appeals system was quickly implemented to help with any schools or colleges that had experienced a process or data error. 
On Thursday last week when A level and AS level grades were awarded, there was an overall increase in the top grades. At A level, 2.5% more students received an A* or an A, attainment was broadly in line with previous years, and more students got into university than ever before, including more from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Unfortunately, it also became clear that the algorithm used to help calculate the grades revealed a number of anomalies that had not been anticipated by Ofqual which undermined confidence in the system. On Friday I spoke to the head teacher at Camborne School of Science and International Academy who subsequently raised some of the concerns that they had over the process. Over the weekend I also received representations from concerned parents and students who had been affected by the lower grades that they had received. I subsequently raised these concerns with officials and it was clear that nationally the system had resulted in too many inconsistent and unfair outcomes.
As a result, earlier this week, the Education Secretary has confirmed that GCSE students will therefore receive their centre assessment grades on Thursday, or their calculated grade if it was higher. A level students will be reissued with their centre assessment grades – any who received a calculated grade higher than their centre assessment grade will still receive the higher.
Understandably this move will create different pressures for universities, but the Department for Education are working closely with the sector to create additional capacity and ensure that they are as flexible as possible and that they honour all offers made and met. Students who previously missed their offer and will now meet it on the basis of their centre assessment grade should get in contact with the university. Those who have accepted another offer will be able to release themselves if they have a preferred offer reinstated. I hope that in the weeks ahead, many more local students can now pursue their ambition and take the next step in their careers.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Planning for the future

Whilst much of the country continues to endure a heat wave, it has been nice to be back home in Cornwall where it has been much cooler and fresher with the Cornish mist that is a regular feature at this time of year. Over the past week I have been visiting some of my favourite spots in Cornwall such as Godrevy, Zennor, Mounts Bay and the gardens at Trebah, Trelisick and Heligan. Many of these areas are part of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and are part of what makes Cornwall such a special place to live and work.
Last year the government commissioned a review into National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The conclusion was that more should be done to strengthen them and improve cohesion between them. Cornwall has a rather unique AONB in that it is a composite site with multiple areas predominantly around our beautiful coastline. At the time of designation there was serious consideration to designating it a National Park but in the end they settled for the AONB. Later this year I will be giving a response to that review and will be looking at how we can strengthen the AONBs.
Ever since I was elected in 2010, I have always maintained that developments should be done with local communities not to them, and that there should always be developments on brownfield sites rather than greenfield. Last week, the Government released its White Paper on its reforms of the planning system. As things stand our planning system is complex and slow. It is a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives. It takes an average of seven years to make a housing plan for an area and five years to get permission to build, often followed by the slow delivery of homes and the roads, schools, hospitals and other community infrastructure needed to support them.
The White Paper will consult on a number of proposals ranging from new roles for local authorities with more accessible map-based local plans and quicker timetables in the development of these plans. Crucially, there will also be a new emphasis on building beautiful architecture that is in keeping with the surroundings. Too often in the past here in Cornwall we have seen large scale developments that are not consistent with our historic built environment and which end up looking tired. We need to put more emphasis on the quality of what we allow to be built. If we protect our most beautiful and unique areas and then when we do build, build things that look the part, we can deliver the homes we need and protect the natural beauty of Cornwall.

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.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Think Local, Shop Local

Earlier this week, all non-essential retail shops were allowed to re-open and once more commence trading. For many businesses, this was the first time in months that they could open to the public. Businesses up and down the country have been preparing for this moment and precautions have been put in place with extensive guidance from the Government and Public Health England.
Many of these non-essential retail shops are integral to the fabric of our local communities, especially across Cornwall where there is a strong local community. As we emerge from the shadow of COVID-19, I and my Conservative colleagues across Cornwall launched the Think Local, Shop Local campaign to encourage people to shop locally and help local shops get back on their feet. From our local pasty shops, to fashion and hardware, our highstreets are full of opportunities and bargains.

An update on the Brexit negotiations
Whilst COVID-19 has dominated much of the political and media discourse in recent months, the Government has been actively going about its negotiations with the EU on a future free trade agreement. After years of wrangling we finally left the EU at the end of January and the Transition Period will expire at the end of December. Last week, Michael Gove led a meeting between UK and EU officials where he formally confirmed that there would be no extension to the transition period and that on January 1, 2021, the UK will take back control and regain our political & economic independence.
There have been a couple of sticking points in the discussion about a future trade agreement. Firstly, the EU are making unrealistic asks regarding the future of fishing access which is of great importance to the west country. The second sticking point is that the EU are requesting that we continue to follow their laws in some areas. Obviously neither of these requests are reasonable nor acceptable. We have left the EU so that we can control our own laws again and it is what every other independent country does. Likewise, on fisheries, we are just asking for what every other country has which is to be an independent coastal state like Norway and to control access to our waters and reach sensible annual agreements with our neighbours on the management of shared stocks.
There is now going to be an intensive approach to try to secure a breakthrough in the discussions over the next few weeks but if that does not occur then we will still have the agreement that was signed late last year and which provides a basis on which to proceed after the end of the transition period.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

A light at the end of the Covid tunnel?

Earlier this week, the Secretary of State for Health announced in the Government’s Daily briefing the country’s lowest recorded rate of deaths from COVID-19. Every life that has been lost to COVID-19 is one too many, and many of us will know of someone who has been affected by the virus. Inevitably there will be lessons learnt from how the state has reacted to the virus, but it is reassuring to hear that after all the sacrifices that many people have made, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
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 couple of weeks ago public gardens and parks were told that they could start to tentatively re-open. The evidence is that the risk of transmission outdoors is very low. This week a further step has been taken to allow the partial opening of zoos in outdoor areas provided numbers are controlled. Caution has been needed because a spike in the rate of infection will see the measures once more tightened and a need for a lockdown to be re-imposed. The Government’s guidance on the plan for the months ahead can be found on the www.gov.uk website.
However with more shops and non-essential businesses re-opening in the weeks to come, it is important that we all do as much as we can to support our local Cornish businesses. Throughout the lockdown, there were stories of people increasingly shopping locally, supporting local businesses. In recent years we have seen a number of movements to support small businesses such as Small Business Saturday, and as we emerge from this lockdown, I would encourage as many people as possible to support our local stores. From our local bakeries serving fantastic pasties, to fruit and veg shops, our great Cornish economy can provide everything we need, right on our doorsteps. If we all buy something locally when retail reopens, we will all be able to make a difference to these businesses.
During these difficult times we have all looked out for each other and pulled together to support one another. Our unique Cornish spirit has shone through, however in the weeks and months ahead we all need to continue to do as much as we can and support these businesses that make up the fabric of our communities.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

A new vision for Camborne

This week, plans to revitalise Camborne stepped up a notch as the Towns Fund Board appointed a local project manager to help craft the vision for the improvements to our towns. With a local project manager in place, work will now continue to help revitalise our town centre with business and leisure opportunities to be enjoyed for current and future generations.
The towns fund was initially launched back in November 2019 by the Housing Secretary focusing on areas with proud industrial and economic growth but which had been less fortunate in years gone by. However, with the government firmly committed to levelling up our towns and cities and unleashing the country’s potential this funding was most welcome.
Our local towns were once at the heart of the industrial revolution and our expertise in mining engineering was second to none. Over the years, with the loss of mining our fortunes waned and all too often the political attention was on big northern cities, but now we have an opportunity to reset this imbalance and deliver the economic regeneration that our towns and communities need.
When I was first elected, I always made clear that 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.
Here in Camborne there are already a number of exciting and innovative ideas that are being talked about including the potential to redevelop the old bus station, and breathe new life into the high street but I want to ensure that the community is fully involved in discussions about priorities.
In addition to this, the Government also recently announced that Cornwall Council would be receiving £759,000 to kickstart an expansion of cycling and walking in Cornwall. The funding comes as part of a government initiative to encourage more people to take up walking and cycling in an effort to ensure that public transport and our roads do not become overcrowded.
Throughout the Coronavirus crisis many of us have been walking and cycling more than ever, and not only has this helped to contribute to healthier lifestyles, we’re also seeing cleaner air. Whilst we know that cars will continue to remain vital for many, we must continue to build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Pick for Britain

As our country has faced massive challenges in recent months, it’s been inspiring to see the people of Britain come together. From supporting neighbours with their food shop to volunteering for the NHS – our fighting spirit makes me proud to be British.
And we’re once again calling on everyone to play their part by helping our farmers to feed the nation.I spent ten years working in the farming industry, and at the peak of the strawberry season we used to employ 300 people from over a dozen different countries.
I know it can be a challenge to recruit, train, and retain people to pick fruit and veg and stay with the work over the harvest months. Over the past twenty years most of our summer fruit pickers have travelled over from places like Romania and Bulgaria for the spring and summer months. But this year, the unique challenge of the coronavirus means we need to think differently about how our homegrown produce gets to our plates.
That’s why there is an opportunity for people who are already here in the UK to play their part and lend our farmers a helping hand. We’ve already seen people signing up in their thousands to take on seasonal agricultural work this spring and summer.
In April, we launched our ‘Pick for Britain’ website to bring all the jobs in one place and confirmed furloughed workers could take up seasonal work to top up their incomes. But the growing season is only just getting started. From June through to September, bringing in the harvest requires a mammoth effort from farmers and growers across the country.
We’ve been working with industry, from the National Farmers Union’ to Waitrose, to make sure our farmers and growers have support they need in the months ahead. The Prince of Wales has also issued a message today calling on people to pick for Britain, with workers who can really stick at the job needed in the months ahead.
For university students with the summer months stretching ahead of them, this is also an opportunity to gain work experience while earning money and meeting new people. Those who are able and willing to pitch in this year can help to feed the nation in these tough times and do an invaluable service to their country.