MP's column

Since the Government announced that shops selling non-essential items could reopen local leaders have been busy ensuring that our town centres in particular can open safely and that social distancing can be observed.

Having worked closely with the Business Improvement District managers in both St Ives and Penzance I can not speak highly enough of how seriously they have taken this task and of the collaborative way that BIDs and town councils have navigated this challenge. Opening shops can be done safely and I know how much people who have been isolated for so long will appreciate the opportunity to visit our towns.

Moving to a cleaner healthier West Cornwall and Scilly is going to take some initiative so I was glad to support my friend and colleague Peter Aldous MP today in the Chamber as he launched his Local Electricity Rule Motion. His proposed Bill simply allows local clean energy generators to become local energy suppliers. The licensing process and costs associated with accessing the necessary infrastructure weigh heavily in favour of the big six energy suppliers and the few challenger energy companies. This Bill would reduce these costs so that they are relative to the scale of the local business and a simplified licence to sell your energy to local customers would be introduced. I join 150 other MPs in support of this because it would effectively drive up local clean energy production, drive down energy costs and address the dominance of the current suppliers!

Senior figures in Cornwall Council may prefer for Cornwall to survive this year on Government hand-outs rather than see any return of tourism. However comforting this may seem many thousands of people whose income is not directly earned from tourism depend on this part of our economy. I include in this scores of sole-traders in the building trade, in catering, in entertainment, in hospitality and more who are not able to secure the funding announced so far and desperately need their business to survive. I share the concern about the spread of coronavirus but I can confidently state that the risk is minimal, not least because the extent of work those in the tourism sector have done to be covid-safe when visitors are permitted to travel. 

This week sees the opening of a Government consultation on the England Tree Strategy. This three-month consultation gives you the opportunity to comment on the plan to create thousands of hectares of new native Woodland and protect and restore existing woodland and forests. An enormous sum of money is being committed to this including £640m for a Nature for Climate Change fund. There is no need to wait for the strategy to get planting using Government funding. DEFRA has extended the deadline for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund, which helps communities plant trees. You now have until Saturday! Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/urban-tree-challenge-fund