Monthly Archives: May 2016

€20 million European funding boosts North West waters

Rivers, lakes and coastal beaches across the North West are set to benefit from €20 million of European Union funding to make the region’s waters cleaner than ever, Environment Minister Rory Stewart announced at a national water conference in Manchester today.

Having lived with the long legacy of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester’s rivers have seen a significant improvement over the past few decades with water quality the highest it’s ever been. As a result the city has been awarded new funding through the EU LIFE initiative to make the region’s rivers, lakes and coastal beaches cleaner than ever.

The fund which provides support to environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout Europe will protect and improve the water environment. Improvements in water quality have been driven by a number of directives including the Water Framework Directive, and the fund will enhance the delivery of this directive in the North West.

As well as making a speech at the EU LIFE+ Water Conference, Minister Rory Stewart also paid a visit to the Salford Quays project to learn more about work of The Healthy Waterways Trust – a partnership project to improve water quality along the Manchester Ship Canal.  Particular highlights include injecting oxygen into the water to ensure the survival of vital fish and other aquatic species along the canal

With the two-day Water Platform conference underway, Minister Rory Stewart outlined the benefits for our urban rivers as part of the EU:

“From rural rivers to city canals, our waterways are vital and Salford Quays is an innovative project where partnership working has led to an improvement in water quality for the region.

“Thanks to €20 million of EU LIFE funding even more miles of waterways in the North West will become the cleanest yet.

“Through the EU we have improved more than 9,000 miles of rivers since 2010 and our water environment is in the healthiest state for 25 years. We are able to protect and enhance the environment far more effectively if EU countries continue to work together.”

The national water event will focus on overcoming challenges to good water status in urban areas, and highlight water quality challenges such as flooding, chemical pollution and sustainable use of Europe’s waters.

The conference will also visit locations in Manchester and the North West where examples of these three issues can be seen with practical solutions at work.

With a conference on the Water Framework Directive just around the corner, the UK will be able to further share expertise across Europe, for example the Aquatic Pollution and Environmental Monitoring organisation has been involved in the management of Salford Quays water and is now one of the largest independent aquatic science consultancies in Europe.

€12 million EU funding to protect vital UK moorlands

Thousands of acres of South Pennines moorland and peat bogs will be better protected and provide a haven for wildlife as a new EU-funded restoration project gets underway today.

The MoorLIFE 2020 project – which received €12 million funding from the European Union – will restore and preserve areas of blanket bog developed over thousands of years which are internationally rare due to their high concentration of carbon-storing peat. The project will also provide new habitats for birds and other wildlife, and provide new facilities to boost local tourism.

The five year scheme is run by Moors for the Future Partnership – which brings together partners including the Environment Agency, Natural England and MoorLIFE project, which protected 2,500 hectares of blanket bog in the Peak District and South Pennines between 2010 and 2015, with €5million provided by the EU towards the €6.7million cost.

On a visit to mark the start of work beginning, Minister Rory Stewart highlighted the benefits of the UK’s membership of the EU which makes provides access to additional funding to support environmental conversation.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

“EU membership provides clear benefits for our natural environment, both at home and abroad.

“Funding provided from the EU to the Moors for the Future Partnership, will ensure the protection of our distinct landscapes and priority international habitats across the South Pennines.

“Through partnership working, crucial conservation and scientific work, alongside innovative techniques, we can fully understand and protect our moorland habitats for future generations.

“We can protect and enhance the environment far more effectively if EU countries continue to work together as part of a reformed European Union”.

The EU’s LIFE fund supports environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the UK, and Europe.

Benefits of the project include:

Enriching biodiversity to provide breeding habitats for moorland plants, birds, insects, mammals and amphibians.

Improving water quality in our reservoirs and rivers.

Reducing fire risk as wetter moorlands resist the spread of wildfires which can release tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere and devastate wildlife habitats.

Retaining carbon in the soil which is a major factor in action on climate change. Peatlands are the UK’s biggest carbon store, holding 40-50% of its carbon, but bare, damaged peat releases it to the wind.

Reducing flood risk in towns and villages as re-vegetated moorland reduces the flow-rate and volume of downpours into our rivers and streams.

Boosting the local economy by attracting more visitors to use local holiday accommodation, shops, cafes and pubs.


​Rory Stewart MP has gone on record to support a new Priority Services scheme for struggling water customers being launched by United Utilies in the week of May 23rd​. The programme is designed to help ​customers ​in managing debt; support customers facing mental health issues or struggling with ‘life events’ such as divorce, job loss or bereavement; and ​will offer ​services for customers with physical disabilities.​ ​

Tailored payment plans to ​help ​avoid or overcome debt, large print, braille or ‘talking bills, and a nominee scheme which allows a carer, family member or friend to manage a water account on someone’s behalf​, as well as​translation services and additional support for vulnerable customers during interruptions to water supply​, will all be provided​.

​Support will be provided by a specialist call handling team, trained by organisations including Mind, the ​Samaritans, SkillsGen and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf​.

​Rory​ Stewart, who worked closely with United Utilities as Floods Minister during the devastating effects of Storm Desmond, is supporting the scheme, saying:

​”I fully back this new scheme, since customers are often unaware of the support schemes their utility provider can offer. Assistance is often stumbled upon, rather than actively sought out, and many customers who are in difficult avoid making contact because of what they anticipate may be a stressful, confrontational encounter. Having worked closely with United Utilities during Storm Desmond and its aftermath, I am extremely keen that constituents and Cumbrians are well aware of the very many support systems that are in place, which I encourage them to take advantage of, and applaud United Utilities for taking this proactive approach. I am especially pleased to see that the service will be tailored to those who have disabilities, which is a very necessary and welcome thing.”

Louise Beardmore, United Utilities’ customer services director​,​ said: “We know that many thousands of customers in the North West face multiple challenges, but are hesitant to ask for help, or are simply unaware that support is out there.​ ​

By registering for Priority Services, customers will have access to a specialist team who can provide tailored support for as long as it’s needed. Whether a customer is in debt, struggling to cope with an unexpected life event, or has specific mental or physical health needs, we can help.

We will be promoting the service to customers across the region, and working with partner organisations to spread the word and break down barriers.”


Our future in Europe

Who hasn’t told us what they think? Ian Botham has spoken, and so has the Prime-Minister of New Zealand. Barack Obama has invested his eloquence in the Remain campaign; and Boris Johnson has lent his exuberance to Exit. But despite the chorus of celebrities, this is not a decision for ‘experts’ or parliament, but instead for the public as a whole – fifty million individuals, each with an equal weight – a referendum whose result will be the sum of the choices of each citizen. The public is making its mind up; and telling the politicians what to do.

The last sixty years have not been easy. When the European project was launched in the 1950s, we, Britain, refused to join; and spent a decade waiting for the project to collapse. When it became clear that the collapse wasn’t coming, we applied for membership. Only to be told that we weren’t wanted. General de Gaulle argued with a relish bordering on extreme rudeness, that Britain was not ready, because the British had not yet adjusted to the idea of being European, because we still saw ourselves as an island power, and because we were never going to accept the values of the community. So we invested the next ten years in trying to join a club that had rejected us as a member. And – once we were accepted – the following forty years wondering whether we had made a terrible mistake.

Perhaps because we have always half-worried that we had been somehow conned into the endeavour, we have rarely got the most out of the project. While the French and Germans sent their best civil servants to European institutions, and backed their careers, we did not make the investment in teaching our civil servants languages, or making sure they got the senior jobs. Even when we voted for European regulations, which were genuinely good for our health and our society – reducing Sulphur Dioxide and preventing acid rain from being blown across European borders – we implied these rules were simply imposed on us by Brussels. When we used British influence to improve standards across the EU – from animal welfare to Human Rights – we refused to take the credit.

So I had hoped that the referendum would give us the opportunity to finally make up our minds up about Europe: to commit to a life in or out, rather than to a half-life located nowhere in particular. Now, I realise I was overly optimistic. The last two months has taught me that whichever way we vote, Britain will probably always remain conflicted in our relationship to Europe. We are unlikely to ever have a clear decision or commitment, one way or another. Our traditional attitude – part fantasy, part victimhood, part pessimism – used to enrage me. But I am beginning to see it is not all bad. Our curious British attitude to Europe – call it what you will – has proved, over the last forty years, to have had some benefits. It has saved Britain from some of the more unrealistic proposals in Europe, such as British membership of the Euro. And it has often had a positive influence on other European states.

Britain’s focus on practical market measures has helped every European economy to perform much better after joining the EU, than it had in the decades before joining. All of us – from Sweden to Italy – are far wealthier than we were in the 1970s. We continue to help to make other members focus, not on misty aspirations, targets, or rules, but on exactly how much a measure would cost to implement, and exactly how much the benefit would be. British models of law and government have provided a model for Eastern European members – who have been through something little short of a miracle since 1989. And today, countries in the Balkans that could have been as poor and unstable as parts of Syria, are on track to be as stable and prosperous as the Czech Republic. Europe has influenced Britain. But we have shaped Europe in turn – making it more practical, and because it is more practical, more likely to last.

Personally, I have decided to vote to stay. I will do so because of things I care about it in this constituency such as financial support for small farmers and the environment (90 per cent of our lamb exports, go to Europe). I will also do so because of things I care about nationally, such as keeping Scotland in the Union. And I will do so because of things I care about outside Britain, such as European security. I find it better instinctively, as a rule of thumb, to build things together, rather than break them apart. But I have very close friends who disagree with me – some for romantic and some for very practical reasons – and who will be angry that I have written this, and will be voting to leave.

Ultimately, however, the point about a referendum is that my vote is worth no more or less than theirs. I can express a view, and cast a ballot – but the result is no longer up to parliament. And that is correct, because this is, in the end, a very personal question – reflecting very different attitudes to risk, to Europe, to our national identity, and to our future – which can only be made individually. I am pleased that this is a referendum, not a vote in parliament. The British public as a whole has very rarely been wrong, whether in elections or referendums. That is why I am content to wait for the public to make up its mind, and give us our marching orders, whatever they prove to be.


Rory Stewart MP joined around 300 supporters of Appleby’s ‘Bring Edenside Home’ campaign on Saturday, as they marched through the town to raise the profile of their campaign and put pressure on Cumbria County Council to reopen the care home.

Edenside was closed in December following the devastating floods, and residents were evacuated to the former Greengarth care home in Penrith. However, work to repair Edenside has not yet started, sparking fears in the community that the home may be closed permanently.

Rory, who visited concerned staff and residents at Greengarth in April, said: “I am proud to join the Appleby community in their fight to save Edenside, giving a human face to the plight of these residents and their families.  Edenside is at the very heart of this community, providing not only a home to many of our elderly, but also providing a vital day care and respite service. And many families simply couldn’t manage without their support. I am committed to ensuring that investments are made into flood protection at Edenside and bringing residents back home as soon as possible.”




Local MP Rory Stewart on Friday visited Threlkeld Primary School, where he enjoyed a tour of the school, met with staff and governors, and was introduced to students. Rory led an energetic discussion with Class 3 about the role of an MP and how Government works, and took questions from his captivated audience. 
The school’s Headteacher, Katherine Horder later wrote a letter of thanks saying: “The children were very excited and quite overawed to meet such a high profile visitor! It was great for them to see the democratic process at first hand, and hopefully they now have a better understanding.”Following the visit Rory said: “I was very impressed by all the staff and children at Threlkeld Primary School. Small, rural schools like these play a very important role in Cumbrian education and these children will undoubtedly go on to make a great contribution to our society. There was a fantastic atmosphere and the children were very engaging. I’d like to congratulate Katherine and her staff for their hard work in encouraging these children to strive and fulfil their goals.”



Floods Minister and local MP Rory Stewart has officially re-opened the A591, the major Lake District route that has been closed since Storm Desmond devastated the road in December 2015.

Over £250 million has now been provided to areas to make sure communities can get back on their feet and to help the North recover from flooding caused by the December storms – covering promotion of the area as a tourist destination, support for businesses and families, and flood repairs.

Rory said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to open this road on behalf of the government. We took over this project – unusually – because of the extreme flood damage. The work to open the A591 early shows how we are standing firmly behind communities hit by December’s flooding with investment in infrastructure, new flood defences and promoting the region across the world. I am delighted Highways England has managed to do this at such high quality in very difficult circumstances.”

“The work continues in Cumbria with a £10 million flood defence repair programme underway and up to £68 million investment to better protect more than 3,500 homes across the county over the next five years along with a £1 million advertising campaign to promote the North as a holiday destination. We are very much showing the country, and the world, that Cumbria and the Lake District are back open for business.”


Rory Stewart MP has welcomed the approval of a £26,634 grant from the Education Funding Agency for future flood resilience measures at Crosby-on-Eden C of E Primary School.

The grade II listed building was badly hit by floods during Storm Desmond, with only one classroom remaining dry, and Rory has been pressing hard for as much financial support from the Government as possible since he visited the school in January.

Rory Stewart said: “I am delighted at the announcement of this EFA funding approved by Lord Nash which will ensure the school can make itself resilient against flooding in the future. And I would like to thank the teachers and staff at Crosby-on-Eden school for working so hard to ensure that the education of the children did not suffer, despite huge disruption.”