Monthly Archives: October 2015

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RORY STEWART MP SECURES DEDICATED CUMBRIA MEETING WITH POLICING MINISTER

Last week, Rory joined a group of rural MPs, including Carlisle MP John Stevenson, who had successfully sought a meeting with Policing Minister, Mike Penning MP, to discuss the proposed changes to the police budget. Rory raised his concerns about rural “damping”, and urged the Minister to protect rural forces from large variations in funding. Rory went on to stress the unique challenges faced by Cumbrian police, and asked the Policing Minister to hold a separate meeting to hear Cumbria’s concerns in greater detail.

Speaking after the initial meeting, Rory said:

“Cumbria is the second largest county in England, our police services are already stretched to their limit. I am keen that the unique challenges of policing an area of 2,613 square miles continue to be met by our hard-working police force who do amazing work, and take great risks to keep us safe. It is essential that police in Cumbria receive the respect they deserve, and the means to carry out their jobs.

Cumbria Constabulary have already made significant savings over the past five years, and have done so carefully and thoughtfully. Nationally the police have achieved significant reductions in crime across the country, with reduced budgets, at a time when so many said crime rates would go up. However, Cumbria has unique needs, and any changes to our formula must take that into account.

My forthcoming meeting with Mike Penning will be a good opportunity for me to seek reassurances from him that Cumbria’s police will continue to receive the support they need to continue to operate as effectively as they do.”

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RORY STEWART MP WELCOMES HISTORIC LAKES AND DALES EXPANSION

The Lakes and Dales decision will create the largest area of English National Park land.

Rory Stewart MP and DEFRA Minister has today warmly welcomed the news that Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire will share the largest area of almost continuous National Park land following the decision to extend two of England’s most celebrated National Parks, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District. The announcement by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss today will see the Yorkshire Dales grow by nearly 24% and Lake District by 3%. This will join these beautiful spaces, boosting rural tourism in the area, supporting rural businesses and potentially adding millions more to the £4 billion already generated by visitors to our stunning National Parks each year. It will bring a very large area of the Penrith and the Border constituency in particular within the boundaries of the National Park.

Rory Stewart said: “In Cumbria, our National Parks are the heart and lungs of the north-west. I am very pleased indeed that this decision has been made. It’s the right decision. It will ensure that our landscapes will be protected for future generations, and it recognises their immense social and cultural value, not just in terms of their biodiversity, but in terms of the communities and industries they support: food, farming, tourism, heritage and culture. I am so pleased that all my constituents who participated in the consultation, and who wrote so movingly about their desire to be included in a wider boundary, have been listened to, and am excited about this new chapter in the history of our National Parks.”

Today’s announcement was made as the Secretary of State visited Wensleydale Creamery, based in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and home of the protected Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese – one of many successful businesses within National Parks. Commenting on the decision to extend the Parks Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, said:

“The Dales and the Lakes have some of our country’s finest landscapes, beautiful vistas and exciting wildlife. They are part of our national identity. I am delighted to be able to announce this extension which will join these two unique National Parks and protect even more space for generations to come. National Parks are fabulous national assets that welcome over 90 million tourists and contribute to our vibrant rural economy – we are committed to helping them thrive.”

The announcement builds on the Secretary of State’s speech last week setting out her vision for a 25 year Environment Plan, and is the first step in delivering this government’s manifesto commitment of stronger protections for natural landscapes to ensure Britain has the best natural environment anywhere. By protecting and promoting access to wide swathes of rural England, and providing attractive places to undertake physical activity and environmental volunteering – or simply take in the view – the extensions will help us to make the country the healthiest and most beautiful place in the world to live, work and bring up a family.

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“NO SOLAR FARMS IN PENRITH AND THE BORDER”: RORY STEWART MP

Rory Stewart MP has taken up the fight against large-scale solar farm applications in his constituency, comparing their potential negative impact on local communities, economy and industry to that of wind turbines, which he is publicly opposed to. Rory is known for his active and vocal support of local anti-turbine campaigns, and is similarly supporting constituents who are concerned about the recent spate of solar-farm applications in Penrith and The Border.

Speaking today Rory said: “I am not opposed to solar power as a means of generating energy. Indeed I support domestic solar installation, and it is an industry that provides many jobs in Cumbria. But I am concerned at the volume of large-scale solar farm applications we are seeing, in one of the most beautiful regions of our country. I am officially opposing solar farm applications in my constituency for broadly the same reasons that I am opposed to large-scale wind-turbine developments. They are directly against the expressed interests of many in the local community. This is their landscape and their community, and they should be able to determine – except in the most extreme circumstances – the future and nature of their locality. Secondly, I fear their construction will have a deep and long-term negative impact on the economy of Cumbria. Tourism is our main income earner, bringing in over one billion pounds each year, and this tourism is directly dependent on our natural landscape (far more than in other parts of the UK which may have tourism based on sun, or food, or historic buildings; people come to Cumbria for its wild and unspoilt landscape).”

“Having taken such effective steps to protect our landscape through legislation on curbing on-shore wind farms, we are in danger of undoing all this good work. These solar farms are on average sites in excess of 20-25 acres – that is, slightly under the size of a traditional farm in a typical Cumbrian valley. Alarmingly, I note that when the solar farm reaches the end of its term, the land would be classified as a brown-field site, rather than reverting to agricultural land. It is the central arguments of landscape, economy, and above all community wishes that matter in this case. My hope therefore, is that we can, as Cumbrians, harness the strength of our opposition and highlight the importance of our landscape to our economy and our lives, and stop trying to force such developments through.”

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HARD-WORKING UK FARMERS PRAISED FOR BUMPER HARVEST

The productivity and innovation shown by hard-working UK farmers has been praised by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss as new figures out today show the UK enjoyed some of its biggest harvest in almost 20 years.

•The barley harvest reached almost 7.3 million tonnes – the largest UK barley crop since 1997 – with winter and spring barley up 7.5% and 3.5% respectively.
•For the first time ever wheat grown in the UK has exceeded 16 million tonnes two years running (2014 and 2015).
•UK farmers grew nearly 3% more wheat on their land compared to 2014, up from 8.6 to 8.8 tonnes per hectare.
•Overall, the UK’s cereal harvest this year stands at a mighty 24.5m tonnes, rivalling that in 2014 and making these last two years the decade’s best.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

“We have some of the world’s best farmers – it’s fantastic to see their hard work and expertise rewarded with a bumper harvest of crops that will be heading to our flour mills and distillers to produce some of our favourite foods, from bread and beer to breakfast cereals. It’s a fitting celebration of the work done over the last year by those in the food and farming industry – worth over £100billion a year.

“From using GPS to increase planting precision, to introducing new water-efficient crop varieties, our innovative farmers are embracing technology to unleash their full potential. Through our Food and Farming Plan we will set out our approach to help our farmers better harness data and technology to grow more and sell more British food, creating jobs and investment in this vital industry.”

The use of precision farming methods has grown in the last two decades, helping farmers to increase production and improve crop quality. For example, using GPS on farm vehicles when applying treatments to a field helps the driver steer accurately and reduces overlap when treating the field in parallel strips, saving 6-10% of inputs, fuel and time. The percentage of farms applying this method rose from 14% in 2009 to 22% in 2012. Through the Agri-Tech Strategy, the government is investing £160 million to help develop new farming-related technologies and translate agricultural research into practical applications.

Thanks to high production figures, the UK’s volume of exports of cereals rose by 74.5% between 2013 and 2014, adding to a long list of export successes for the UK. Food and drink exports have doubled in the last decade, worth nearly £19 billion last year.

Eastern England lands the prize for the English region producing the greatest amount of this year’s wheat crop, with 4,170 thousand tonnes.

Yorkshire and the Humber leads the way as the biggest regional producer of winter barley, recording 730,000 tonnes, while the Southwest region has been identified as producing the largest amount of spring barley.

The Southwest and the East Midlands are named as the top-producing regions of oats and oilseed rape respectively.

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£138 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO GROW UK’S RURAL ECONOMY

Rural communities across the UK will have access to £138 million to create more jobs and boost the rural economy, Farming Minister George Eustice announced today.

The approach, known as LEADER, will give local communities power to support projects in their own area, building on the Government’s devolution commitments under its Rural Productivity Plan.

Projects previously funded include villages benefiting from heritage funding to boost tourism, farmers diversifying into farm shops, ice cream parlours and camping sites and local food producers of cheese and meats supported to expand their product lines.

Commenting ahead of a speech in London to successful Local Action Groups, Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“We want to grow our rural economy, which is why we’re making funding available to local communities so they can invest in projects to bring more jobs and enterprise to their areas.”

Following a competitive selection process, 80 Local Action Groups covering 85% of rural England, and made up of local businesses and voluntary groups, will be able to allocate money to rural businesses and kick-start new projects to deliver local jobs and growth.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) manages the LEADER scheme nationally and will make payments to successful applicants. Chief Executive of the RPA Mark Grimshaw added:

“The great thing about the scheme is the level of collaboration between government and local communities. We have a common purpose and a strong belief that we can work in partnership to allow the rural economy to grow.

“But this is all about local delivery using local knowledge, and I am looking forward to working with the 80 Local Action Groups, using the experience that the agency has in administering similar schemes, over the lifetime of the LEADER to make a real world difference to rural communities.”

This approach builds on August’s announcement by the Chancellor and the Environment Secretary on the Government’s first ever Rural Productivity Plan which will boost productivity and ensure the countryside becomes an even more attractive place for people to live, work, start a business and bring up a family.

Case Studies

Already hundreds of rural businesses and communities across England have benefited from LEADER funding available through the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme.

Rural entrepreneurs have used the funding for farm diversification, to boost forestry productivity, promote tourism and support cultural heritage. Examples include:

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
•Town Farm

Town Farm in Ivinghoe is a working farm at the foot of the Chiltern Hills boasting around 1,000 sheep. Its owners successfully received funding to expand their business and they are now welcoming guests to their camping and caravanning site each year.

CUMBRIA
•Lakes Free Range Eggs

The Lakes Free Range Egg Co Ltd produces and packs free range and organic eggs sourced from 46 family farm suppliers located throughout Cumbria. LEADER funding has enabled them to equip the factory with new egg packing and grading technology, leading to the employment of a further 11 people.

DERBYSHIRE
•Big Fernyford Farm

Big Fernyford Farm in Buxton received funding to transform its agricultural buildings into self-catering holiday accommodation. It now provides a picturesque and authentic on-farm experience for families, leading to increased employment and additional income for the farm.

•Bonsall Heritage Project

The Bonsall Heritage Project received funding to restore, maintain and improve heritage sites within Bonsall Parish, including historic wells, fountains and war memorials. The project also supports the long term use of these monuments for school and village events, along with the summer custom known as ‘Well Dressing’ practised in rural England. This ancient custom involves Derbyshire villages decorating water sources with designs created from flower petals. Involving all local residents, a traditional well dressing can take up to seven days, and is followed by a procession and carnival.

DORSET
•Broad Chalke Community Hub

The project converted an underused community building into a community-run shop, including post office, bakery and coffee shop. The building also hosts the local police officer and the village archive, and the shop sources much of its stock from within a 15 mile radius. The business model created the job of a full time shop manager, who is supported by a team of volunteers.

HAMPSHIRE
•JDB Forestry Contractors

JDB forestry contractors near Eversley received funding to purchase a new tractor and rotating wood splitter to boost the productivity and energy efficiency of its woodchip, biomass energy business.

NORFOLK

•Cranswick

Cranswick Norfolk was awarded funding for a sausage factory at Watton in Norfolk in October 2010 by the Brecks Local Action Group. This funding has led to 71 staff being employed and when at full production the new venture will have created 86 jobs for the local area. The grant is to upgrade existing premises and to construct a new unit for 5 production lines. This funding has enabled Cranswick to expand their business in Norfolk and produce a range of pork sausages packaged and distributed in East Anglia.

WEST SUSSEX
•Caroline’s Dairy

Caroline’s Dairy in Sidlesham now generates additional income from ice cream made using milk from the family farm. The funding the owners received enabled them to invest in new equipment, including an ice cream tricycle and freezer van to expand their production and sales.

YORKSHIRE
•Stanza Stones Trail Bridges

The 47-mile Stanza Stones trail bridges the expanse of the South Pennines landscape, linking six stones describing water in its many forms: beck, puddle, mist, rain, dew and snow, and each featuring a poem by Marsden-born Simon Armitage. With support from LEADER, the project was created by Ilkley Literature Festival in collaboration with Simon Armitage and managed by Pennine Prospects.

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EU AID PAYMENTS LINKED TO MILK PRODUCTION FOR UK FARMERS

UK dairy farmers will receive a one-off support payment linked to milk production to help with cash-flow problems caused by volatile prices, Defra has confirmed.

Ministers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales had flexibility about how to allocate their share of the UK’s £26.2 million overall direct aid package but all have opted to pay in line with England.

The united approach across the UK will make it easier for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to adopt a standard method of payment and ensure aid reaches farmers’ bank accounts in December.

The UK’s overall direct support package is the third largest of all the member states.

In England, dairy farmers will share £15.5m in recognition of the prolonged period of low prices in this particular farming sector. Northern Ireland was given a boosted allocation – worth £5.1m – in recognition that Northern Irish farmers have been suffering from some of the lowest prices across Europe.

UK Farming Minister George Eustice said:

“We recognise that many dairy farmers in the UK are suffering financially at the moment and the support will offer some relief.

“Dairy farmers are a vital part of our £100billion food and farming industry and I’m pleased to confirm that ministers across the Union have agreed to distribute the aid in the simplest way – linked to milk production – to ensure the RPA can get this money into farmers’ bank accounts promptly.”

In England and Wales, the one-off payment for an average-sized dairy farm would come out at around £1,800 per farmer.

“In Northern Ireland farmers will be allocated, on average, just short of £2,000. In Scotland, because they have larger dairy units on average, it will be just over £2,500.

Meanwhile, work continues on a host of measures to improve the long-term stability of the dairy industry. The UK farming minister is attending the world’s largest food and drink fair, Anuga, in Cologne, this week to promote British food and farming exports – worth over a billion pounds over the past two years.

The Environment Secretary will also lead a trade delegation to China next month – including eight British dairy businesses – to promote quality British products to this growing market. The visit is part of Defra’s commitment to expand export market opportunities for UK farmers.

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ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY ANNOUNCES RECORD UK WOOD PRODUCTION

The British forestry industry produced a record 12 million tonnes of wood in 2014, increasing wood production in the UK by a third since 2008 and fuelling the country’s one nation economy, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss will announce today.

The trend spells good news for the 40,000 people employed in the £1.9 billion British forestry and timber industry. The new statistics show that the industry is expanding with 58 per cent of woodland in England now in active management, up from 53 per cent in 2013.

Commenting ahead of the opening of the Grown in Britain exhibition at Heal’s, which traces the journey of a sustainably grown ash tree from the forest to the shop window of its iconic flagship store, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, said:

“These figures show how a healthy environment goes hand in hand with a healthy economy and why our £14 million investment in tree health research is so important. Managing our woodlands is already generating over 40,000 jobs a year, but there is huge potential for growth from the building site to the furniture show room.

“Grown in Britain is a fantastic initiative which means we can be confident of the local provenance of the wood and furniture we buy and know that it is legal and sustainable.”

Grown in Britain CEO Dougal Driver added:

“Grown in Britain is flying the flag for British timber and getting the public to think about where their wood comes from.

“Over 250 thousand hectares and millions of tonnes of licensed Grown in Britain timber is working its way into the marketplace, thanks to the ambitions of UK construction and retailers who are backing homegrown timber and our great British Forests.

“By increasing the demand for British timber destined for use by local people and businesses, real innovation is starting to add value to the supply chains replacing imports and helping many of our woodlands to thrive.”

Earlier in the day the Secretary of State will visit a construction site at One Bedford Avenue, a £33 million development run by major contractor MACE. The company is at the forefront of promoting Grown in Britain timber in UK and shaping London’s skyline using British timber. Notes to editors

1.For more information about Grown in Britain visit www.growninbritain.org
2.For further information please contact Natasha Moor in Defra’s News and External Communications office on 0207 238 1542.

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RORY STEWART MP ​PRAISES CROSS-BORDER BUSINESS MODEL

Rory Stewart MP visited Appleby Creamery recently, to see exactly how their cheese is made, and learn all about their forthcoming expansion.

The creamery, established in 2007, was named Cumbria’s Best Small Producer in 2013, and employs five full time members of staff and four part time. But this is now set to increase during 2016, following its recent partnership with some fellow entrepreneurs, passionate about high quality food production.

This fledgling artisan business was founded by Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Farmer, Mark Callander and Cumbrian Business Consultant, Stuart MacLennan, who later brought in Appleby Creamery Director, Maurice Walton, and more recently, Marketing Consultant, Pete Crouch, to form Cows & Co Group.

The Cows and Co cheeses are made from milk entirely from Mark’s herd of traditional Ayrshire cattle, used because the composition of their milk is ideally suited to cheese production. The creamery currently processes up to 300,000 litres of milk per year to produce 14 different cheeses and the rapid success of the Scottish arm of the business means that they must now consider moving to larger premises. The proposed new unit will be purpose-built to the rear of the Cross Croft Industrial Estate, from which they already operate, and will allow the creamery to produce their cheese on a larger scale, without compromising quality.

As part of their business plan, Cows & Co identified the need for a renewable energy strategy that would create a cost-effective means of generating both heat and power, thus producing a carbon-friendly product which is sympathetic to the core values of the business. This renewable energy strategy will arrive in the form of a biomass boiler, which will run using woodchips, locally sourced where possible and provide a sustainable, district heat scheme for all businesses on the new site. The planning process to install the boiler is currently underway, as part of a wider project to extend the industrial estate which is owned by local businessman, John Cannon.

During his visit, Rory sampled several cheeses and saw the cheese making process first hand. He said: ​“I am thrilled to see a small, local business taking advantage of a growing, strengthening economy by joining forces with energetic business partners and flourishing as a result. This cross-border approach will provide mutual benefit for both sides; creating opportunities for skills development and investment, and promoting economic growth and competition. I am also very pleased to hear about their district heat scheme: the Government is committed to meeting 15 per cent of the UK’s energy demands from renewable resources by 2020, and I believe these types of schemes have an important role to play in its success. Overall, this is a fantastic business model, expanding in a way which is sustainable, and the approval of planning which supports rural business growth such as this is key to the regeneration of our county.”

Stuart MacLennan of Cows & Co Group said: We are focused on bringing together the best forward thinking farmers and artisan businesses from across the whole of borderlands to grow sales and opportunities throughout premium UK & Export markets.

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RORY STEWART MP JOINS ‘SHOCTOBER’ CAMPAIGN

Rory Stewart MP dropped in to Appleby’s Rampkin House last week for a photograph with residents and their defibrillator, to raise awareness of the importance of public defibrillators (AEDs) as part of the North West Ambulance Trust’s (NWAS) ‘Shoctober’ campaign.

AEDs are small machines which can ‘shock’ a person’s heart into restarting and if this can be done in the vital first few minutes, patients have a 60-70 per cent chance of making a full recovery. They are easy to operate, and no clinical training is required to be able to use the machine. Located inside brightly colored cPAD (community Public Access Defibrillator) boxes, AEDs are accessed by calling 999 or 112 for the ambulance service – Ambulance Control will give the caller a code to unlock the box, and stay on the line to support the caller until an ambulance arrives.

The campaign will run throughout October and aims to remind those who purchase and install AEDs to make the Trust aware so that they can add it to their database. It is estimated that there are thousands of these life-saving portable machines in the North West which NWAS don’t know about, so if someone calls 999 in the event of a cardiac arrest, the Trust can’t direct them to the nearest cPAD box. NWAS are therefore asking people to send in ‘selfies’ and pictures of defibrillators via Facebook and Twitter – using the hashtag #findthedefib – and giving details of the location. Members of the public can also support by following and retweeting @NWambulance, sharing posts from the NWAS Facebook page, or emailing [email protected] with information relating to the location of defibrillators they have seen.

Following his visit Rory said: “In an area as rural as our own, defibrillators have become an absolutely essential means of providing rapid response and support to those in need of emergency medical care. Even with the best will in the world, emergency services are not always able to respond within eight minutes, so the more awareness we can raise about defibrillators, the safer our towns and villages become. And I am delighted to support this important campaign.”

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RORY STEWART MP WELCOMES ‘RURAL OSCARS’

Rory Stewart MP has expressed his support for the Countryside Alliance Awards 2015.  These awards, also known as the Rural Oscars, celebrate people going the extra mile to ensure that rural Britain’s food and farming industry, small businesses, traditional skills, forward-thinking enterprises and, most of all, it’s people, can flourish.
Rory said: “I am a huge supporter of small local business and am thrilled that the efforts of people living and working in rural communities is being recognised on a national platform, conveying a strong and positive message about the importance of our economy to rural and urban Britain alike.  Cumbria’s economy relies on the hard work of entrepreneurs and small and medium business owners, and the diversity and quality of their products and services – I urge everyone to get involved and nominate them today.”
There are four award categories; Local Food, Village Shop/Post Office, Butcher and Tourism Enterprise, and nominations are open until 2nd November 2015, with the regional winners being announced in February 2016.  National winners will be announced at the grand final in Westminster, which will take place in April 2016. Nominations can be made online – www.countrysideallianceawards.org.uk