15 MAR 2019

EADT Column - 13th March 2019

"At time of writing, Parliament is still deliberating the future relationship between the UK and the EU. I hosted a well-attended public meeting in Felixstowe last week for constituents to discuss Brexit. People are still passionate about the running and outcome of the referendum. I don't think the answer is a second referendum. I hope we can leave the EU in a sensible manner. I wish more MPs would accept the result and move on. That probably is the greatest exasperation I hear that nearly three years on, Parliament cannot decide.

I know readers share my pride that we host the Army in our part of Suffolk– and following the decision by the Defence Secretary recently, I'm delighted that Rock Barracks will remain open and house a newly formed regiment. When the MOD first suggested closure back in 2016, I, along with Cllr Geoff Holdcroft, immediately met Defence Minister, Mark Lancaster MP, to make the case on why the base should be retained. Not least because of its special characteristics and the fact that it brings enormous economic benefits to Woodbridge and surrounding villages, but also because the planning constraints on the site meant it would not generate the financial income the MOD expected. Instead, Rock Barracks will now house the Army's new Counter-Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability, a Defence task currently being undertaken by the RAF Regiment at Honington. A Royal Engineers squadron will relocate here from Germany with other elements being added as the capability grows over time. I have had the pleasure of working with members of the units that will be coming into the new regiment during the horrendous Novichok incidents in Wiltshire, as I was the minister responsible for the decontamination process. They will be great professionals and I warmly welcome them to Suffolk.

I continue to make the case with the Energy Minister about why the proposals for the sub-stations at Friston are not appropriate. The government clearly indicated its support for the offshore wind industry with the sector deal announced last week, which also included the commitment to address the environmental impact offshore and onshore and its cumulative effect. The Minister is listening hard to the concerns.

Finally, I encourage you to join in the Great British Spring Clean, which I helped launch recently. It starts on March 23rd for a month. Let's all take a stand against needless litter."

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