Britain stands to gain more than €1 billion of investment capital from Europe for innovative green energy projects.
Seven British companies dominate the 14 from across Europe that are now bidding for financial support to build carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration projects.
The technology, which many consider a vital tool in fighting climate change, involves the removal of carbon dioxide from the fuel burnt in power stations and industrial plants, and its injection into rocks far beneath the North Sea.
Up to €5 billion is expected to be released through the sale of surplus carbon allowances, a resource made possible thanks to a proposal put to EU Prime Ministers through work in 2008 by Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies.
Davies described his success at the time as “the greatest political achievement of his life”.
The funds are expected to be shared between 8 large CCS projects and a number of smaller schemes intended to develop innovative renewable energy schemes. No one country can win more than three in total.
The projects are now being appraised, with the winners to be announced towards the end of next year.
Although Yorkshire is prominent amongst the CCS bidders, the North West is certain to lose out. Initial interest shown by major companies close to the Mersey and Dee estuaries in piping CO2 out to storage sites in depleted Irish Sea gas fields came to nothing.
A Tameside Euro-MP is calling for a national network of flower filled “rivers” to be introduced across the UK in an effort to preserve vital insects for future generations. Many plants reproduce by bumblebees and other insects carrying pollen from plant to plant and a recent dramatic decline in the number of bugs could endanger commercial crops such as apples.
Environmentalist group Buglife is pushing for local authorities to provide strips of wildflowers across the country to provide habitats for butterflies, moths, bumblebees and hoverflies and routes for them to move along. The flower filled strips would be 50 metres wide and would run alongside existing footpaths and roads.
Tameside Liberal Democrat Chris Davies MEP wants to see the environment section of the EU agricultural budget used to pay for the scheme. He said, “These corridors of wildflowers will provide beautiful walkways while helping to maintain insect species and wild pollinators that contribute an impressive £400 million to the UK economy each year.
“People have motorways to move around the country for work and now we need similar facilities for the tiny unsung heroes of our farming community, the humble bugs.”
The huge pathways, known as B-lines would cross the country providing nectar for insects to eat and pollen for them to spread. Each county of England would have two lines, one running north to south and one running east to west joining together to make a national network to bring back vital bugs to Tameside.
Chris says, “Everyone would win with this scheme from the biggest industrial farming company through the family farmer and nature enthusiasts to the tiny fauna that make our green and pleasant land what it is.”
Chris Davies MEP
Lib Dem Euro-MP Chris Davies says that people seeking medical help to die should be able to do so at home in Tameside and not be forced to travel to Zurich.
Liberal Democrat Chris Davies has welcomed the result of a referendum in Switzerland rejecting a proposed ban on foreigners taking advantage of the country’s law permitting medically assisted suicide.
More than 150 people from Britain have travelled to Switzerland to seek help from the organisation Dignitas, based in Zurich.
Davies, who has written about Swiss practice and met on several occasions with Ludwig Minelli, who founded Dignitas in 1998, described the law in Britain as “cruel and inhumane.”
He said: “In a civilised country the freedom should exist for people who are suffering unendurably to seek medical assistance to due. It amounts to little less than torture to force people to live against their will in circumstances that most of us hope we will never experience. (more…)
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg MP
One Year In: Coalition and Liberal Politics – Nick Clegg’s speech to mark the first anniversary of the Coalition
Yesterday morning at the National Liberal Club, Nick Clegg gave a speech to party members to mark the first anniversary of the Coalition Government. In the light of the past year, and of last week’s election results, Nick set out to answer what these mean for the Liberal Democrats – both as a party and in government.
I think it is obvious that this is a moment when as a party we need to take a hard look at ourselves. We were given a bloody nose by the voters last week. We lost almost 750 council seats. And of course the AV referendum delivered a clear ‘no’ vote.
So, a year into coalition government, some vital questions are being asked. In particular – what does this mean for the Liberal Democrats? And what does it mean for the Government? I am going to try and answer those questions today. (more…)
Across our three constituencies of Ashton-Under-Lyne, Denton & Reddish, and Stalybridge & Hyde, we had six Lib Dem candidates in the council elections this year.
None of our candidates were elected on what was a difficult night for the Lib Dems across most of the country, but our thanks to everyone who gave us their support – and to our candidates, agents and campaign teams for their hard work.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg MP
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP responded to the news of the clear “no” vote in the referendum on changing the voting system to AV:
“When you have such a overwhelmingly clear answer you just have to accept it and move on.
“This is a bitter blow for all those people who believe in the need for political reform, but the answer is clear and the wider job of the government, and the Liberal Democrats in government will continue, to repair the economy, to restore prosperity and jobs and a sense of optimism in the country.
“That is the job we started and we will see it though. We will dust ourselves off and move on.”
On 5th May you have a choice. You can keep the discredited First Past the Post system to elect our MPs, or you can choose a new and fairer system – Alternative Vote (AV). Back the campaign for change at www.YesToFairerVotes.org
AV is a small change that makes a big difference.
Saying YES! to Fairer Votes Means:
MPs working harder to earn – and keep – our support. Your next MP would have to aim to get more than 50% of the vote to be sure of winning. At present they can be handed power with just one vote in three. They’ll need to work harder to win – and keep – your support.
A bigger say on who your local MP is. Ranking candidates gives you more say – in who comes first and who comes last. If your favourite doesn’t win, you can still have a say. It’s as easy as 1,2,3…
Tackling the ‘jobs for life’ culture. Too many MPs have their ‘safe seats’ for life. Force complacent politicians to sit up and listen, and reach out to the communities they seek to represent.
It could change politics here across Tameside. At the last General Election, of the three MPs in the area, only one had the support of a majority of voters.
AV keeps what works with our current system, and eliminates many of its weaknesses. It’s a long overdue upgrade to make a 19th century system fit for the politics of the 21st century. Our parliament will better represent our communities. MPs will have to have a better view of what your community thinks – and that’s because they will have to listen harder to your views. It’s simple. If someone wants to represent your community they need the votes of the majority of the community. That’s what making every vote count really means.
On May 5th: Vote YES
MEPs on the European Parliament Civil Liberties committee are expected to adopt tomorrow their opinion for a report on aviation security, with reference to ‘naked’ body scanners in particular. The European Commission is considering putting forward an EU-wide legal framework on the use of body scanners at EU airports within the next year or two.
A number of EU countries have been trialling naked and other body scanners, in the UK at Manchester and Heathrow airports.
Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP said: “If body scanners are going to be approved as screening methods at EU airports, it is absolutely essential that we put in place EU-level rules to protect privacy and human dignity and prevent storage of intrusive images. There cannot be a situation of confusion where every body scanner in the EU is subject to different rules.”
“The latest advances in body scanner technology mean that newer machines produce a gender-neutral ‘stick figure’ image instead of an actual ‘naked body’ image. The best solution would be to phase out ‘nude’ body scanners and install the more modern ones quickly.”
“In addition, since the European Commission advises that a full manual search can provide equivalent security to a body scan, passengers should be allowed to choose a pat-down if they prefer.”
Chris Davies MEP
Tameside’s Lib Dem Euro-MP is backing a call for changes to the European Arrest Warrant.
A report from the European Commission urges EU countries to stop using the warrant for petty crimes such as bicycle theft. The result has been a huge increase in the number of arrest warrants issued – currently 1,000 a month across the EU.
Supporters say that since its introduction in 2004 the warrants have been used to smash paedophile rings and to extradite terrorists from other EU countries back to Britain to face the courts.
But local Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies says that they should only be used for serious crimes. He wants provision made for a national court to be able to refuse extradition to a second country if there is a real danger of them not getting fair treatment.
He said, “The days of the Costa del Crime are gone thanks to the EU and the European Arrest Warrant is an extremely useful tool to fight terrorism.
“If police forces are using it to chase down bike thieves who have crossed a border though then that is clearly ridiculous.
“The EU needs to be honest about the fact that the quality of the legal system is better in some countries than others and take action to bring the worst legal systems up to the standard of the best.
“In the meantime, there needs to be a judicial safety valve in place to stop people being extradited to face uncertain justice.”
Responding to the article by Conservative Co-Chairman Baroness Warsi in the Sun today, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness (Kishwer) Falkner dismissed claims that the Fairer Votes referendum would help extremist parties.
Baroness Falkner said:“I’m shocked and frankly appalled by the distortions being spun today by Baroness Warsi and the ‘No’ campaign.
“Using the battle of Cable Street for her wildly inaccurate argument undermines the heroic and important action of that day, it ridicules the progress our society has made and will appeal only to the very people she says she wishes to stop.
“While the BNP agree with Baroness Warsi and are calling for a ‘No’ vote, the Muslim Council of Britain and Operation Black Vote have strongly come out in favour of reform because to truly stop extremist parties getting elected, we need to vote yes.
“Under AV, no one can get elected unless the majority of people support them which quite obviously makes it harder, not easier, for extremist parties. That’s exactly why the BNP are campaigning for a ‘No’ vote.
“The No-campaign has resorted to baseless scaremongering because they can’t make any positive case for the status quo. People won’t be fooled by this.”