"New legislation to deliver a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations was introduced in Parliament this week by my departmental colleague, Michael Gove. The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers will in future be paid for "public goods", such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside and measures to reduce flooding. This will replace the current EU subsidy system of Direct Payments, which is ineffective and pays farmers based on the total amount of land farmed. The current payments are skewed towards the largest landowners and are not linked to any specific public benefits with the top 10% of recipients receiving almost 50% of total payments and the bottom 20% receiving just 2%. In its place, a new Environmental Land Management system will start from next year. Under our new system, farmers who provide the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards. Importantly we will work together with farmers to design, develop and trail the new approach. There will also be a seven year transition period, in which payments will still be made, to enable farmers to invest in new technologies and methods that boost productivity - allowing for a smooth and gradual move away from the Common Agricultural Policy, laying the foundations for a Green Brexit.
New figures published this week show that in the past year, the unemployment rate has remained at its lowest since 1975 and real wages grew for the fifth consecutive month. Since the Conservatives came to power the number of people in work has risen by over 3.3 million meaning more people have the security of a job and are able to provide for their family. We will continue to help more people into work by reforming welfare and delivering our modern Industrial Strategy to help create more, better paying jobs across the whole country.
Following my plea to East Suffolk Extra readers to help me nominate one of our fantastic local pubs for the Parliamentary Pub of the Year Award, I'm pleased to say that we have a winner. We have so many great pubs in Suffolk Coastal (over a hundred) and as I've visited every one it was difficult for me to decide – but in the end I was convinced by the argument that it should be the Oyster Inn, Butley for all it has done in bring the community together and for providing much needed village facilities. Well done to them."
"Congratulations to all the young people who recently received their examination results for GCSEs and A levels. For those who didn't achieve what they hoped for, advice is available via the national helpline on 0800 100900, open 8am to 10pm every day. Well done too to the teachers, staff and governors in our local schools for helping our young people at this critical stage of their lives. That boost for young people will be strengthened by the opening of Suffolk New College on the Coast in Leiston. I was delighted when SNC Principal Viv Gillespie told me a few years ago of this exciting initiative. I hope it goes really well.
The summer recess has been a time for me to fully recover from my operation earlier this year, so I have not undertaken my usual constituency tour nor seen people at summer fetes. That said, the Government has continued to be busy, especially my department. For example, we have announced a ban on third-party puppy and kitten sales in England. The ban will mean anyone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or kitten must either deal directly with the breeder or with one of the nation's many animal rehoming centres. This step follows a commitment by the Prime Minister to crack down on cruel puppy farms, bring an end to the grisly conditions found in puppy farming and tackle a range of existing animal welfare issues. After the consultation on electric shock collars, Michael Gove has announced we will proceed with this but we will exempt those collars used for fencing, used by owners to give animals freedom but keep them safe from wandering off onto the highway. This is a sensible outcome and thank you to everyone who responded.
This week, the Prime Minister has visited three countries in Africa and announced a new approach to our use of international aid. Africa needs to create millions of new jobs every year to keep pace with its rapidly growing population. It is in the interest of the UK and the rest of the world to see that those jobs are created to tackle the causes and symptoms of extremism and instability, to deal with migration flows and to encourage clean growth. To that end we will use some of our development spending to not only combat extreme poverty, but at the same time tackle global challenges and support our own national interest. It is our ambition for the UK to be the G7's number one investor in Africa."
"I have contacted the Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart MP, outlining concerns from local residents after the Prison Service confirmed that Hollesley Bay is to be among several open prisons which will be used to accommodate sex offenders. I recognise that about 18% of all prisoners are in jail for sexual offences and as prisoners approach their release date they need to be fully prepared for life on the outside. Open Prisons are extremely important in helping facilitate prisoners transition back into normal life but they should not be an easy place for potentially dangerous criminals. Considering the very close proximity of the primary school, I fully understand local residents concerns – so I have written to the Prisons Minister and asked him to reconsider.
Before Parliament broke up for recess, I had an important meeting with the Regional Director of Highways England to talk about closures on the Orwell Bridge, which cause so much disruption to residents and local business when traffic is diverted onto local roads. The Regional Director explained that they are undertaking some detailed research into wind speeds and their effects on traffic, to see if they can keep the bridge open at higher wind speeds. They are also looking to see if it would be possible to just close the bridge to HGVs only, as they do at the Severn Bridge. I also took the opportunity to lobby for improvements to the Copdock interchange, particularly for traffic trying to join the A14 from the A12.
Finally, Suffolk Coastal District Council is undertaking a consultation on the first draft of its Local Plan. This is a really important document as it sets out how land across the district will be used in planning terms. It stipulates the scale and location of growth, the infrastructure required and how certain areas will be protected from development. It is also the document in which planning applications are judged against. I urge you to have a detailed look at plan and have your say via Suffolk Coastal's website. The Local Government Boundary Commission is also consulting on warding arrangements for the new East Suffolk Council with the consultation open until 27th August."
"I wrote last time that I had secured an important meeting with Energy Minister, Claire Perry MP to convey residents' concerns on the Scottish Power Renewables proposal for a substation near the village of Friston. That meeting took place last week just as Parliament went into recess – with Councillors Geoff Holdcroft and Andrew Reid joining me as well as the Heads of Planning from both the District and County Councils. The proposed energy generation and transmission projects suggest that our small bit of Suffolk will be responsible for a quarter of the country's electricity supply in the 2030s. In addition to Sizewell C, the cumulative impact of huge pieces of highly visible infrastructure, with no additional local jobs once built, without changes would clearly be visible on our flat landscape and be unacceptable. As Scottish Power Renewables have decided to place their substation at the very end of their corridor of search in Friston, 5 miles of countryside will needlessly have to be dug up for cables to reach the substation and there may be multiple huge buildings. We spoke about other options that could reduce the impact, including moving the proposed transmitters elsewhere to other energy hubs. The Minister has taken this back to her department to consider carefully. She cannot express a view else she will have to remove herself from the decision making process. I will keep working with councillors and officials on this important issue.
Summer brings a lot of visitors to our coast and after a successful redevelopment of Bawdsey Radar and the ongoing work at Sutton Hoo, well done to the team at Aldeburgh Museum, who in partnership with Aldeburgh Town Council have received £747k from the Heritage Lottery Fund for their regeneration project. Of course, these improvements are important for local residents to enjoy what makes our part of Suffolk so special.
Finally, I'm sure the recent good weather has encouraged you to seek refreshment at your local pub, perhaps while enjoying the Felixstowe Carnival last Saturday. We have so many great pubs in Suffolk Coastal (over a hundred) – and as a dedicated constituency MP, I have visited every one. But I would like your help! I have the chance to nominate one of our fantastic pubs for the Parliamentary Pub of the Year award – and would like to hear from you which one I should nominate and why.The main criteria for nomination is that the pub are great at what they do. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org before the 7th September."
"The hot weather is bringing forward the harvest locally but it's also leading to a rather febrile atmosphere in Parliament. Some rain would be good for all of us to calm temperatures. The Chequers plan and government proposals have been much debated, as they set out our country's desired future relationship with the EU after we leave next year.
I had a very constructive meeting with Education Minister, Nick Gibb MP, to further discuss the future leadership of Felixstowe Academy. The recent 'Inadequate' Ofsted report at AET sponsored Langer Primary has strengthened the case for why AET is not an appropriate organisation to be running either school. I am confident we will get the change we are seeking, which is actively being considered by Department for Education officials. Whilst I said it would take time I hope to get some more news within the next 2 months.
I wrote last time that I had secured a meeting with Energy Minister, Claire Perry MP to convey residents' concerns on the Scottish Power Renewables proposal for a substation near the village of Friston. Unfortunately, that meeting had to be rescheduled and is due to take place next week. I want to reassure residents that I will be pressing hard for a change to what has SPR proposed. Friston is not a suitable site but in any event, wherever these substations go, they need to be smaller and built into the land.
Finally, I was delighted to welcome the SouthGen Community Group to Parliament last week to celebrate their hard-work in obtaining the former community hospital in Southwold for the benefit of the local community, including for new affordable homes. The Save Our Southwold campaign engaged local residents and its continued work as SouthGen is a great example to other local groups in Suffolk and the rest of the country. Well done to all involved."
"I have secured a meeting with Energy Minister, Claire Perry MP next week to convey resident's concerns on the Scottish Power Renewables proposal for a substation near the village of Friston. I will be joined at the meeting by councillors from both Suffolk Coastal and the County Council.
Regular readers will remember that I have written before about the potential impact on our local communities of the proposed energy projects on the Suffolk coast including impacts on the countryside and disruption to local residents. I completely understand the concern from those that live nearby about the proposals for electricity substations for the wind farms. Local resident's concerns have been exacerbated by the knowledge that National Grid is also considering the connection at Sizewell of two interconnectors, which would require further infrastructure.
I met SPR earlier this year to discuss the matter and expressed to them that the substations needed to be smaller and, if necessary, built into the land. At the public consultation, I reiterated my view that the proposed nature and size of the required buildings was unacceptable. I want to assure residents that I will be pressing hard for a change to what has SPR proposed when I meet the Minister next week.
I wrote last time on my formal presentation of the Felixstowe Academy petition signed by 2,599 people calling for the removal of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET). I met Education Minister, Nick Gibb MP, last week, to discuss this further. It was a very positive meeting and he shares my concerns about the leadership of the school. I am keen to get new arrangements in place as quickly as possible, so the school can have a fresh start under new leadership for the benefit of the children of Felixstowe. I am working in Parliament to try and make sure that happens as quickly as possible and have a follow-up meeting already scheduled with the Minister."
"It was great to celebrate Suffolk Day yesterday – the longest day of the year – to mark our status at the sunrise coast. Now in its second year, Suffolk Day aims to recognise and celebrate all that is great about Suffolk – and my goodness do we have a lot to shout about. Your seven Suffolk MPs took the celebrations nationwide as we welcomed food and drink providers to Parliament to showcase their wares to MPs and staff from across the country – with Adnams doing the honours for Suffolk Coastal with their brilliant range of beers and spirits. With the success of our local economy based on tourism, I'm sure that Suffolk Day will continue to develop as a useful fillip for our businesses and a fun-filled day for local residents.
It's been a week of celebrations really, as I was delighted to recognise another successful Suffolk firm, Rendlesham based GAH Refrigeration Ltd - who I nominated for a Parliamentary corporate responsibility award as a result of their excellent work to help reduce air pollution and climate change. The awards are being run by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Corporate Responsibility to recognise companies which go beyond mere compliance to support their local communities. When I visited them last November I was highly impressed by their innovative and responsible approach to supplying powerful and fuel efficient refrigeration systems to large supermarkets and smaller companies. What is particularly special about GAH is their ongoing passion and success for improving the environment and helping the profitability and performance of their customers by reducing fuel and emissions.
On a more sober note, I formally presented the Felixstowe Academy petition signed by 2,599 people calling for the removal of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) to Parliament last week. I'm keen for the school to have a fresh start under new leadership for the benefit of pupils following the very disappointing Ofsted report. Earlier this year I met the National Schools Commissioner, Sir David Carter, who informed me that he has written a Pre-termination Warning letter to AET. This is the first stage of the process that can lead to securing a new organisation to run the school. I continue to follow up this issue with the Department of Education."
"It was great to be back in Suffolk last week as I attended the Suffolk Show. Unfortunately, I have been in hospital recently. I had an ear infection which turned into something quite serious, leading to an operation. I am still getting treatment from district nurses as I continue my recovery but it was great to get back out and about at the show and speak to so many people, including meeting representatives of the National Farmers Union.
Regular readers will remember that I have written before about the potential impact on our local communities of the proposed energy projects on the Suffolk coast including impacts on the countryside and disruption to local residents. I completely understand the concern from those that live in Leiston and villages nearby in regard to the proposals for electricity substations for the wind farms and interconnector cables. In addition to Sizewell C, the cumulative impact of these additional projects is substantial and will need to be very carefully assessed and it is important that relevant and robust mitigation measures are put in place. I met the Energy Secretary, Greg Clark in March to discuss this and I am in the process of setting up a meeting, including our local councillors, with Ministers and officials from the department in order to share the concerns of residents.
It is World Environment Day this week. I am really proud to be Environment Minister when we are making good progress on improving our environment – air quality, better water, nature and tackling global issues too. I am always grateful to those who volunteer (it is Volunteers' Week too) and pick up litter and plastic. We continue to bring new laws into effect which make it easier to reduce these problems and make it easier for councils to take appropriate action. I have a particular passion for reducing unnecessary use of plastic and I am pleased that businesses are responding to the calls of government and consumers to improve.
Finally, I wanted to draw reader's attention to the National Rural Crime Survey which is asking people that live or work in rural communities to feedback their experiences of rural crime. This is an issue that often comes up when I conduct my constituency tours – and so it is important that people respond. The survey will then help provide a picture of what has improved, what challenges remain and what more the police can do to support the most isolated parts of Suffolk. The survey is open until this Sunday, 10th June. You can have your say here - http://www.nationalruralcrimenetwork.net/research/internal/2018survey/"
"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."
"At the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Prime Minister announced our intention to ban the sale of plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds and called on other Commonwealth countries to join us. Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world, which is why protecting the marine environment is central to our agenda. In order to eliminate these items from use the Government will work with industry to develop alternatives and ensure there is sufficient time to adapt. This builds on our 25 year environment plan, which I am taking forward as Environment Minister, where we said we would target the elimination of avoidable plastic waste. We will also be consulting later this year on our plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for all single-use drinks containers - another important step in reducing littering and improving recycling. We have already banned harmful microbeads and cut plastic bag use but it is essential we take action on plastic bottles to help clean up our oceans. Furthermore I recently announced a £200,000 fund for scientists to explore how tiny plastic particles from tyres and synthetic materials enter our waterways and oceans and the impact they have on marine life.
I wrote last time how proud I was as Suffolk's first female MP to attend the unveiling of the first statue of a female in Parliament Square, Suffolk's very own Millicent Fawcett. However, it is not just in Westminster that celebrations are taking place. The UK Parliament's Vote 100 programme is helping groups from all over the country to hold EqualiTeas. Running between 18th June-2nd July EqualiTeas are a chance for any group anywhere in the country to come together to share, debate and celebrate women's right to vote, over a cup of tea and a slice of cake. I am writing to all the WI groups in Suffolk Coastal to urge them to take part. I can think of no-one better than the Women's Institute, with its unique role in expanding opportunities for women and who also recently celebrated its centenary, to help mark this historic event."
Thank you for visiting my website. It is my privilege to serve as your Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal. Please do get in touch using the contact form or email me (details below).
Sign the petition to remove the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) from the management of Felixstowe Academy so the school can have a fresh start under new leadership for the benefit of pupils.
Parliament: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA,
Call: 0207 219 7164
Emails sent to Dr Coffey as a DEFRA Minister (and not from constituents) will not be processed. For DEFRA, email Dr Coffey via email@example.com