01 JUN 2018

Coastal Scene Column - 25th May 2018

"I'm grateful to the Clinical Commissioning Groups in East Anglia for agreeing a new six-year deal with the ambulance service which we see an investment in an extra 330 staff and 160 ambulances over the next three years. It has taken considerable leadership to increase the funding for the ambulance service and I am pleased to have worked towards this. I hope it will make a considerable difference, particularly in rural areas, though I'm conscious it can still be challenging recruiting paramedics. The main problem is still about the length of time ambulances have to wait at several hospitals to transfer patients. I have raised this issue with NHS leadership and the Health Minister.

I'm pleased that my department has this week launched our Clean Air Strategy designed to cut air pollution, save lives and leave our environment in a better state than we found it. The strategy focuses primarily on particulate matter, which affects breathing. The biggest contributor to this is the domestic burning of wood and coal which contributes 38% of UK emissions. It is important that we do all we can to reduce the use of smokey coal and wet wood, which causes damaging particulate matter but keep smokeless coal and dry, seasoned wood. As a result, we will legislate to ensure only the cleanest domestic fuels and stoves will be available for sale. The strategy will also focus on reducing ammonia from farming – which is responsible for 88% of ammonia emissions – by requiring farmers to invest in the infrastructure and equipment that will reduce emissions. Farmers will be supported to achieve this through the new system of public money for public goods. The new strategy, which is now out for consultation, is a key part of our 25 Year Plan to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.

Finally, I am continuing to press Greater Anglia to suitably re-establish Saxmundham railway station. The station building, seating and information boards continue to be fenced off following the serious fire in February. Greater Anglia are currently awaiting a surveyors report before being able to decide what they can do to repair the station but they assure me that any future options will be discussed with local stakeholders. I will update local residents when I have more information."

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