Update from Catherine Bearder - Member of the European Parliament for South East England - Adur & Worthing Liberal Democrats
Adur, West & East Worthing Party including East Arun

Update from Catherine Bearder – Member of the European Parliament for South East England

The summer (I am assured that the last couple of months have been technically summer!) is coming to an end and I hope you’ve had a chance to get a good break. The parliament is now up and running again and it always amazes me how quickly you get back into the swing of things!

Clearly, all that everyone’s been talking about over the last couple of months has been the Olympics and Paralympics and the great success that they’ve been for the whole country.  I was so delighted with the response the games generated from everyone.  The South East played its part of course, the rowing at Eton Dorney has seen some of the greatest successes and emotional stories.  I was asked to write an article reflecting on the impact of the games which you can read here.  I’m lucky enough to manage to buy tickets for the last event of all, the Paralympic closing ceremony and can’t wait!

I spent last weekend in Sussex and, before heading to Eastbourne (see below), was thrilled to be invited to join a group of Lib Dems at Brighton Pride.  Of course, I hope to see many of you in Brighton later this month at conference and there are details of how to register at the end of the newsletter.

Taking the Fish Fight to the European Commission

Last week I visited Eastbourne to hear from local fishermen and to pick up a message to take to the Commission.  

Around 600 people in Eastbourne have signed petition cards in a bid to force the European Commission to review its laws on fishing.  I collected the cards at the Rock the Redoubt event where I was joined by Eastbourne’s fantastic MP Stephen Lloyd.

I will make sure these fish cards get to the European Commission and it understands the strength of feeling in Eastbourne and across the south coast.  At the moment, small-scale fishermen are being punished and yet they are the ones leading the way in sustainable fishing. We cannot allow this to continue.

The event was part of the Be a Fisherman’s Friend campaign, which has pulled together fishermen from around the South East and South West in an effort to change the EU Common Fisheries Policy.

As well as meeting Stephen and the local fishermen, I also met Greenpeace campaigners to discuss radical reform of the law, which can be changed only once a decade.  According to Greenpeace, the UK’s small scale fishing fleet contributes 65 per cent of full-time employment at sea, but gets only four per cent of the UK Government’s fishing quota.

Meanwhile, large scale vessels which have the highest environmental impact are favoured.  The campaign has so far collected more than 12,000 fish cards in the South East, which urge MEPs to support radical reform of the law.  Greenpeace is encouraging local people to add their voice to the campaign and you can do so here.

We must not allow take-off for Heathrow third runway plan

Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of talk about rehashing plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.  Tory MP Tim Yeo told the Daily Telegraph a new runway would mean the UK could stay in the economic premier league and allow our children to enjoy rising living standards.

This is a, frankly, short-sighted and naïve argument. How can we honestly talk about raising quality of life for future generations by leaving them with a catastrophic environmental disaster to try and clean-up?

Hearing this from a former environment minister and head of the parliamentary climate change committee astounded me.  Particularly when he suggested environmental objections are disappearing as greenhouse gas emissions from flying in the UK are now within the EU cap.  He even said that: “We could cover the whole of Surrey with runways and not increase emissions by a single kilogram…”  But I just don’t see how the UK can allow unmitigated expansion of the aviation industry without missing its carbon reduction targets.

I have argued for the Government to look at airport provision across the whole country, rather than overloading the South East, and backed a new Liberal Democrat strategy aimed at blocking airport expansion in the region.

Julian Huppert (another fantastic Lib Dem MP!) co-chair of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, will table the strategy at this month’s Federal Conference pushing for better use of existing capacity in the South East and at regional airports to meet short to medium-term demand, firmly rejecting Boris Johnston’s Thames Estuary airport idea and calling for no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airport.  This will have my full support.

The quiet success of the green economy in the South East

Environmental groups, politicians and businesses are hailing the strength of the UK’s green economy after a new report showed it had quietly become a British success story with the South East leading the way.

A review published by the Green Alliance last week shows the green economy has weathered the recession while other sectors have stumbled, stalled or collapsed. It takes new figures and officially published Government statistics to reveal the sector has shown recession resilience, growing healthily since the banking crisis.

The South East is leading the way, with around 164,000 people employed in low carbon and environmental jobs in 2010-11, generating more than £11 billion worth of sales. The general economy is expected to return to 2007 levels by 2014 at the earliest, but the green economy will have grown by 40 per cent in that same period. There are now more green jobs than in the motor and telecoms sectors combined.

I have been saying for some time that too many people think it’s about saving the environment OR helping the economy. This shows we can tackle both problems at the same time.  It’s a real win, win. We are in difficult economic times and it is often easy to sideline the green agenda as we attempt to steady the ship. But eco business is booming in the region and it is proving to be a fertile ground for green jobs and investment.

Companies are beginning to realise they can make money and improve the environment at the same time. The Lib Dem pressure in Government is starting to bear fruit and we must ensure this continues.

This Month’s Euromyth

“The EU wants to be counted as one in the Olympic medal table” 

This has been mentioned to me by a number of people and I can’t find any basis backing it up!  Some of you may remember the myth from last year of European sports teams having to wear the EU flag on their shirts to compete and I suspect this has come from a similar track.

Since the Lisbon treaty sport has become an EU competence but it doesn’t even have a budget and these myths seem to have emerged from one Own-Initiative Report (ie a report written by one MEP!).  This report was providing various suggestions on the role that the EU could play in sport.  Of course, this could be highly beneficial responding to pan-European challenges such as in the fight against violence and racism in sport, doping, encouraging good governance in sport, and helping associations establish mechanisms for the collective selling of media rights to ensure adequate redistribution of revenues. But there is no way that the EU could legislate to be counted in the medal table.  For one, it would remove the friendly rivalry between the nations making it all the better when the UK finishes top in Europe!

For more myth-busting, have a look at the Euromyth section on my website. Hopefully our responses to these myths will help all of you if you’re challenged about them in a heated European debate!

See you all in Brighton…

It’s that time of year again and I wanted to give a quick reminder to any of you yet to register for Autumn Conference in Brighton held from the 22nd to the 26th of September.

It’s always a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and, of course, debate the big issues affecting the party and the country. This is an extra special conference for me as it’s the first one in the South East since I was elected and I know that Brighton will perform brilliantly in it’s hosting.

Remember, any member can attend conference and there are special deals for first timers.

You can register here. I look forward to seeing you there!

I will be keeping these newsletters coming out regularly to keep you all up to date with my work in the European parliament and the region but if there’s anything you want to see in these pages or any issues or problems you feel I should be looking at then don’t hesitate to contact me at catherine@bearder.eu.  My Lib Dem colleague in the European Parliament, Sharon Bowles has now started her own monthly newsletter and you can sign up by visiting her website at www.sharonbowles.org.uk

With best wishes,

Catherine Bearder

Member of the European Parliament for South East England