This page holds all the open communications between Transition Buxton and the MP for the High Peak.
May 9 2023 Qs for Robert Largan MP
These are the questions we put to our MP. Click here to read the full transcript of his answers.
- The recently published govt targets for improvement to river pollution, halting wildlife decline, etc are totally inadequate to meet the commitment to have 30% of land and sea protected by 2030. The Office for Environmental protection has reported that of the 23 targets 14 are “off track” and the remaining 9 can’t be assessed for lack of data. Is Mr Largan aware of this disgraceful state of affairs How will it be resolved? Also see Q2 below.
- Given your public statements of concern over the disgraceful state of sewage in water, do you think that the companies should be prevented from paying dividends and bonuses until the issue is sorted?
- The Climate and Ecology Bill is returning to Parliament tomorrow (10 May). Can we count on your support for the bill? Are there any elements of the bill that you are uncertain or uneasy about?
- Amendments 237 and 238 to the Energy Bill would introduce changes to the energy market that would release the potential for community energy generation. Given that these amendments are based on the Private Members Local Electricity Bill of which you are a supporter, can we rely on you voting in favour of them. https://powerforpeople.org.uk/the-local-electricity-bill/support/#mps
- The last decade should have been spent transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables This has not occurred leaving us exposed to the international fuel market. Renewables are now cheaper. Does Mr Largan agree the effective ban on onshore wind farms and the planning problems for solar farms should be reversed immediately?
- By 2020 there were 3.8 million people on council house waiting lists Last year the government built only 5995 new social homes. Could Mr Largan comment?
Also see related Q7 below
- When does the government plan to make all new housing developments carbon neutral, as retro-fitting them is short sighted & will be very costly?
- DCC currently replacing bus shelters on Market Place with plastic roofs instead of turf. An opportunity to support pollinators and improve air quality squandered. This illustrates the disconnect between govt rhetoric and action. Procurement needs to prioritise; environment, social justice and local economy. What will you do to close this gap? Are you familiar with the Community Wealth Building work in Preston and elsewhere championed by CLES? https://cles.org.uk/community-wealth-building/what-is-community-wealth-building/#:~:text=Community%20wealth%20building%20is%20a%20new%20people-centred%20approach,and%20benefits%20into%20the%20hands%20of%20local%20people
Transition Buxton Open Letter to Mr Robert Largan, MP for High Peak
30th September 2022
Dear Mr Largan,
I’m writing to you on behalf of the directors and members of Transition Buxton CIC to express our profound concerns regarding the dramatic change of direction in Government policy as it relates to the environment. We could detail the specific policies and legislative proposals, but they can be summarised as:
- Proposals to abolish many of the current legal protections for our environment and wildlife, including the apparent intention to scrap the Environment Land Management Scheme (ELMS)
- Proposal to address the energy crisis almost exclusively by increasing the use of domestic fossil fuel production and consumption, which will merely substitute for previously imported fuels
- The specific action to remove the moratorium on fracking
We note that you have written recently for CapX on the importance of reducing energy waste by comprehensively insulating the UK’s housing stock but note that the Government currently has very limited and narrow plans to incentivise or finance such actions.
The current twin issues of rapidly rising fuel prices and increasing general inflation will mean that individuals and families will have less ability to self-finance energy-saving measures, meaning that personal capacity to act will reduce, possibly dramatically.
We are profoundly disturbed that, despite your regular assurances to us and your constituents more widely that you are supportive of many of the actions we believe are necessary, you seem to have been completely silent on the Government’s damaging intentions across a wide range of environmental policy.
Others, locally and nationally, including normally cautious bodies such as the National Trust and the RSPB have also made their views known in no uncertain terms.
For many people, the financial challenges are urgent. We think it is only right that we and your other constituents know your views, in detail, and in advance of our meeting with you on the evening of 8th November.
It is time to demonstrate your independence of mind.
Chair, Transition Buxton CIC
[i] See https://www.survation.com/polling-in-every-constituency-in-britain-shows-strong-support-for-building-wind-farms-to-drive-down-consumer-bills/
[ii] See https://www.yorkshirewater.com/media/bcgco3hv/upper-derwent-valley-reservoir-expansion-business-case-udvre-final-8_12_21.pdf
Robert Largon’s reply
From: Robert Largan MP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: 25 October 2022 18:20
Thank you for contacting me on behalf of Transition Buxton about the Government’s commitments to farming and nature.
Protecting the environment is an issue incredibly close to my heart. The Peak District is an extremely special place and we must conserve it for future generations. In my first question in Parliament after being elected, I called for the Government to strengthen our environmental protections. I have actively campaigned for the restoration of our local peat moors and I’m proud to have secured a significant funding increase for this.
In addition, I have established and chair the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Peak District, bringing together MPs and conservationists. I am also a proud member of the Conservative Environmental Network, helping to develop policy to tackle climate change.
I have consistently demonstrated my commitment to the environment in key votes in Parliament. I rebelled against the Government on an amendment to the Agriculture Bill to send a clear message to the Government that we must not compromise on our food standards and environmental protections in any future trade bills. I also rebelled against the Government on the key vote on sewage in rivers, voting to put a legal duty on water companies to prevent untreated sewage being released into rivers and waterways. I subsequently met with the then Prime Minister, and was pleased that the Government agreed to table their own amendment to place a legal duty on water companies to secure a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from storm overflows.
I am pleased to say that this amendment was passed and the Environment Act has received Royal Assent and passed into law. This is a big win for those of us campaigning to protect our rivers from pollution.
Most recently, I rebelled against the Government to clearly demonstrate my opposition to fracking and stand by the manifesto that I was elected on. I did this despite being told that if I did so, I would face being thrown out of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. Instead, the Prime Minister has resigned.
Now that we are outside of the European Union, the UK is free from the Common Agricultural Policy, which did little to deliver for farmers, farming or the environment. The Government was elected on a manifesto which pledged to maintain the budget for farming but spend it in a way that does better for farming and nature.
I want to support the choices that individual farmers make for their farms, boost food production and agricultural productivity. This will bolster the rural economy and support communities across the country. Ministers are rolling out new schemes which will support farmers to both produce high-quality food and enhance the natural environment.
Furthermore, the Environment Act 2021 includes a commitment to halt the decline of nature by 2030. This Government will never undermine its commitments to the environment in pursuit of growth. Any reforms will rightly contribute to growing our economy in equal step with successfully meeting our commitments in the 25 Year Environment Plan and the legally binding environmental targets through this Act.
Internationally, the UK has committed to protect 30 per cent of its land and ocean by 2030, through the Leaders Pledge for Nature, which committed to putting nature and biodiversity globally on a road to recovery by 2030.
Protections for the green belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks (such as the Peak District) will remain in place.
In regards to the mooted Investment Zone areas, I am personally sceptical about the proposals. I have obtained assurances from Ministers that no Investment Zones will be located within a National Park, such as the Peak District. However, I will continue to very closely scrutinise the details if and when they emerge.
Should you have any further enquires on any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am here to help.
Robert Largan MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak
18 Market Street, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, SK23 7LP
Letter Robert largon on 28 November 2022 following an on-line discussion with him.
Dear Mr Largan,
Thank you very much for your time on the evening of 8th November. Given the brevity of the meeting there were several issues which we were unable to cover sufficiently, so we agreed to continue the conversation in this written form. We hope that you will be able to join us for an hour again in the spring, but in the meantime, we’d be grateful for your views and response to the points below.
Energy Efficiency: The UK Energy Security Strategy, issued in haste in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in April 2022, includes inadequate support for the changes that are necessary, particularly in home efficiency, and the need to move away from carbon-based fuels in the timescale required to address the climate emergency. We have yet to hear a credible plan to retrofit every home to reduce energy needs and to ensure all new build and conversions are to an appropriately high standard. Significant funding is also required urgently to address the efficiency of the public estate, such as schools.
Electricity Generation and Security: Modern renewables (geothermal, solar, wind etc) are proven technologies that could be introduced quickly at scale. Wide scale use of renewables for domestic and industrial applications is cheaper and quicker to implement than any fossil or nuclear energy generation. If the regulation and financial commitments, including incentives, are put in place, property and business owners can and will respond with their own investments in secure green energy. Connecting to the national grid needs to become quicker and easier, and storage solutions incorporated wherever possible. As our name suggests we are committed to a transition to sustainability and would never suggest “overnight shutdowns”, as you implied. Granting licenses for oil, coal, and gas is not only environmentally unwise, but far too slow and more expensive to develop. While these technologies may have some future role, they are likely to remain uncompetitive, inferior solutions to the problems we face. We also have concerns about the possible reliance on unproven or inefficient technologies, which will be slow and costly to implement, such as carbon capture[i] and hydrogen[ii], [iii], [iv], [v]. You repeatedly stressed, and we obviously acknowledge, that the increasing proportion of UK electricity generation from renewables is good. But that job is unfinished. In the latest month (August 2022) with available figures, “modern renewables” contributed 8,900GWh, nuclear 3,200GWh and combustibles 15,400 GWh (see graph below).
You may find it informative to follow the daily energy mix data provided by http://www.mygridgb.co.uk/ and we have made available some comparative national data at https://ukpublichealthdata.shinyapps.io/Electricity/.
High barrier of local support for on-shore wind: Over the last few months, ministers have suggested that there needs to be a particularly high level of local support for onshore wind generation. This is the opposite of other planning decisions which generally go ahead if there are not a high level of objection. We would like clarification on what would demonstrate such support. Surveys have recently shown high levels of public support for onshore wind generation[i]. We would be particularly interested in this issue, as it seems those living in the vicinity of the Derwent Valley Extension Scheme, which would potentially double the size of the reservoir complex, will have very limited influence on its approval[ii].
Decarbonisation of the wider economy: You had no real response to our challenge that the economy as a whole, in particular home heating, has made inadequate progress. We have since examined figures from the International Energy Agency which show that in 2019 (latest figures) only 12% of Total Final Energy Consumption in the UK was from “modern renewables” (their definition). This is only a little higher than China (11%). Almost all European states have higher percentages than the UK (see below).
The skills gaps for a green and healthy economy: We need to train and re-skill the people and businesses who will make, install, and maintain the renewables, who will retrofit and provide the materials to for our buildings, design and develop more and new solutions, reform agriculture, and more. We also need to ensure the wellbeing of every worker is actively supported through excellent employment practices and conditions. The Transition movement firmly supports a policy of preventative as well as curative health care for wellbeing. We do not believe we need to lower our standards, indeed quite the opposite.
Regulation and Enforcement: During our discussion you accepted that some businesses, indeed whole industries, will have to transform radically, e.g. packaging, or even cease in some cases. “The market” will not always change of its own accord. We’d be interested to learn what government thinking is on introducing regulations and establishing robust enforcement regimes to force the change that is needed.
Public Procurement: In addition to transparency to ensure fairness, our government has a responsibility to procure all goods and services responsibly. Introducing and applying supplier vetting including environmental credentials, and employment policies would not only set a good example for the private sector, and make a real difference to the UK economy, but also reduce our national carbon footprint.
Waste: Every local authority area has a different domestic and business waste regime. Nationwide consistency would be more efficient, increase recycling rates, and rationalise systems. A national regime / method was promised pre-pandemic. Is this still on the cards? If so, when? If not, why not?
Transition Buxton would echo, and be interested in your response, to the points made by the Climate Change Committee in their letter to the Chancellor on 9 November. https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/letter-reducing-energy-demand-in-buildings-in-response-to-the-energy-price-crisis/.
We’d be grateful to hear your thoughts and responses to the points above. As always, we would be pleased to provide signposts to more data, meet for further discussion, and to support positive environmental actions in any way that we can. We are here to make a difference and keen to see you, as our parliamentary representative, making the case for swift, bold, and well-informed decisions at this critical time.
On behalf of Transition Buxton
Monday 28th November 2022
[i] See https://www.eco-business.com/news/carbon-capture-and-storage-wont-work-critics-say/
[ii] See https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03693-6
[iii] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0BRZFx24o8
[iv] See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwkANJME3Ok
[v] See https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5acEOF6mIIj1Ae3B2oeRrw
Robert Largon’s reply.
Sent: 08 December 2022 19:14
Subject: Re: Transition Buxton – Follow Up to our meeting with you on Tuesday 8th November 2022
Thank you for contacting me again on behalf of Transition Buxton following our recent meeting. I would like to address each of your concerns in turn.
Buildings are responsible for around 30 per cent of our national emissions, and I know the Government recognises that upgrading home energy performance is crucial if we are to meet net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the UK economy by 2050. Not only this, but ministers are clear that one of the principal ways in which we can tackle high energy prices in the long-term is to improve the energy efficiency of homes.
Most recently, the Government has announced a new long-term commitment to drive improvements in energy efficiency to bring down bills for households, businesses and the public sector with an ambition to reduce the UK’s final energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15 per cent by 2030 against 2021 levels. New funding worth £6 billion will be made available from 2025 to 2028, in addition to the £6.6 billion provided in this Parliament. To achieve this target, a new Energy Efficiency Taskforce will be charged with delivering energy efficiency across the economy.
The strategy announced the Government’s ambition that by 2035, no new gas boilers will be sold. All new heating systems installed in UK homes will either use low-carbon technologies, such as electric heat pumps, or will support new technologies like hydrogen-ready boilers, in line with the natural replacement cycle, and once costs of low carbon alternatives have come down.
Furthermore, the Government will invest over £4 billion of new funding for decarbonising heat and buildings from this year to 2025. This includes a new £450 million three-year Boiler Upgrade Scheme which will see households offered and grants of up to £5,000 for low-carbon heating systems, such as a heat pump, so they cost the same as a gas boiler now. I am encouraged that £1.75 billion will be provided for the Social Housing Decarbonisation Scheme and Home Upgrade Grants, with £1.425 billion for Public Sector Decarbonisation which has the aim of reducing emissions from public sector buildings by 75 per cent by 2037.
In addition, as included in the Clean Growth Strategy, the Government set out its aspiration for as many homes as possible to be Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2035 where cost effective, affordable and practical, and to reach this standard by 2030 for fuel poor homes. To achieve this, it will need to mobilise up to £65 billion for upgrades, which will put us on a path to net zero, significantly reduce household energy bills, and improve our health and wellbeing. It will also create new opportunities for the energy efficiency sector, currently the largest part of the low carbon and renewable energy economy.
Electricity Generation and Security
The Government is committed to delivering 50GW of offshore wind by 2030, alongside the expansion of other low-cost renewable technologies. This ambition, set forth in the new Energy Security Strategy, will provide more than enough energy to power every home in the UK, of which up to 5GW is anticipated to come from floating offshore wind in deeper seas. This brand new technology allows wind farms to be built further out to sea in deeper waters, boosting capacity even further
The CfD scheme is the main mechanism for supporting new large-scale renewable electricity generation projects in Great Britain. In previous rounds, £557 million has been made available for CfD schemes to improve the route to market for renewables. In the last CfD allocation round, contracts were awarded to 12 renewable projects with the potential for nearly 6GW of new renewable capacity, which is enough to power over 7 million homes.
The next allocation round is now open and £285 million per year will be provided to businesses in this fourth round of the scheme. This round aims to double the renewable electricity capacity secured in the third round and generate more than the previous three rounds combined.
The goal of net zero by 2050 will require innovation and diversification across a range of technologies, including wind, geothermal, solar, and nuclear power.
On Shore Wind
Onshore wind is a key part of the Government’s strategy for low-cost decarbonisation of the energy sector. Achieving net zero by 2050 will require increased deployment across a range of technologies, including onshore wind.
It is for this reason, as part of the new Energy Security Strategy, the Government will be consulting on developing partnerships with a limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind infrastructure in return for guaranteed lower energy bills. In addition, onshore wind prices are down 50 per cent since 2013.
The Energy White Paper stated that there will need to be sustained growth in the capacity of onshore wind over the next decade alongside solar and offshore wind. Therefore, in March 2020 the Government announced that onshore wind and other established renewable technologies such as solar PV will be able to compete in the latest Contracts for Difference (CfD) allocation round. The round is now open and will aim to deliver up to double the renewable capacity of the last successful round in 2019 with £285 million a year.
Offshore and onshore wind developers are required to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of any planning application. The Environmental Impact Assessment seeks to protect the environment by ensuring that the planning authority considers any significant effects as part of the decision-making process and that the local community are informed of any impacts.
For onshore wind projects in England, the local authority is the primary decision maker for all sizes of schemes. Planning tests were introduced in 2015 that ensure that local communities have the final say on onshore wind farm developments. This means that a local community can raise concerns based on the publicly available information in the Environmental Impact Assessment, and a development cannot be granted permission if these concerns have not been addressed.
Please find attached a letter from the Secretary of State for Levelling up Housing & Communities, Michael Gove, on this issue.
Low Carbon Skills
I fully agree with you that skills are crucial to our economy and that vocational courses need to be fit for the future. That is why I welcome ministers’ emphasis on skills as a core enabler of the Government’s ambition to ‘level up’.
The Prime Minister has set out a series of reforms to ensure that everyone can get the skills they need. This includes the new Lifetime Skills Guarantee which offers a free, fully-funded college course to adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification. There are almost 400 fully-funded courses included in this offer and I am delighted that courses are available in environmental conservation, science, and the designing, engineering, and construction of sustainable built environments, amongst others. Given the cross-cutting nature of climate change, I would expect the environment to play a prominent role in this programme.
The economy has incurred substantial change as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and I am pleased that Ministers have published the Further Education White Paper. It will make sure people can get the education and training they need to get great jobs, and employers can fill the skills gaps they currently face, boosting our productivity and improving our international competitiveness.
I can assure you that the Government is committed to ensuring that there is greater transparency in government procurement. All new contracts and tender documents for contracts worth over £10,000 are published online on the Contracts Finder website. Items of government spending over £25,000 are also published online and are accessible at the following address: https://data.gov.uk.
My Ministerial colleagues are committed to creating a public procurement system that is simpler, more open and competitive, that will work for British business and make it easier for small businesses and voluntary, community and social enterprises to win public sector contracts. The Procurement Bill, which will deliver this, is currently at Committee Stage of the House of Lords and will replace the current bureaucratic and process-driven EU regime for public procurement.
I have written to my Ministerial colleagues at the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs about your concerns regarding nationalised waste regimes on your behalf, asking them to look into this. I will, of course, let you know as soon as I receive a response.
This is a long process to get the UK carbon neutral by 2050. I am aware that you would like to see stronger measures brought in to make our homes more efficient and increase our energy supply. While I am unaware of any further plans, I will be sure to pass on your concerns to my colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy.
As always, should you have any further enquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Robert Largan MP, Member of Parliament for High Peak
18 Market Street, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, SK23 7LP
t. 01663 769779 e. email@example.com
Last updated: 29/12/22