La Treizième Étoile: 04/03/12 - 11/03/12 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
My tweets (@SWUKinEU)
West Country loses out as Edinburgh and London to host UK Green Investment Bank

Saturday, 10 March 2012
Green Investment Bank bid locations (Photo: Department for Business and Industry )All four West Country bids from Bristol, Gloucester, Torbay and Cornwall (Eden Project) to be home to the UK’s new and first Green Investment Bank (GIB) have been snubbed as Business Secretary Vince Cable announced on Thursday (8th) that the headquarters will be in Edinburgh, with the main transaction team in London.

Capitalised with £3 billion, the GIB will play a vital role in addressing market failures affecting green infrastructure projects in order to stimulate a step up in private investment as the UK makes bold steps in the transition to a green economy.

While it does not come as much of a surprise since neither Cornwall nor Devon has a significant banking sector, both regions are pioneers in the promotion of renewable energy industries. In addition, the Government repeatedly hails the potential for wind, wave, geothermal and solar technology in the region. The South West bids therefore were within their right to feel they had a strong chance.

For Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay, the decision was disappointing but not a surprise: “They [Devon and Cornwall] didn't lose a lot of banking jobs in the last few years like London and Edinburgh. The main priority will be to ensure that the new bank directs the right investment to areas like the South West that urgently need new jobs."

Some 32 locations across the country had thrown their hat into the ring, and it may well be that most of the money invested from the GIB could be heading West anyway following the recent announcement of the South West as the UK’s first Marine Energy Park.

UKIP: 'All posture, no substance' - South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox

Wednesday, 7 March 2012
South West Conservative MEP Ashley Fox has this evening released his monthly newsletter recalling his activities in February. Always worthy of a few moments for a close read, my attention was immediately drawn to a particular part of the newsletter entitled "UKIP: All posture, no substance".

Since I cannot agree more with what Mr Fox has written in this piece, I shall quote the passage in its entirety (bold emphasis and article link added by me):

"I continually read the comments of UKIP MEPs as they rail against the mistakes of the European Union. Yet they seldom try to remedy any of these ills. Last month saw a prime example of this prevalence of posture politics over substance.

As many readers will know, I am a leading member of the campaign to end the Strasbourg Circus and last month the Parliament voted through a British budget amendment that calls on the Parliament to review the use of Strasbourg as the second seat. We probably all agree that this £200m vanity project should come to an end. Yet neither of the South West’s two UKIP MEPs even turned up to the vote.

I am heartily sick of those that say one thing to the public and then do nothing to further their cause in the Parliament itself.

I only hope the electorate take notice.

Click here to continue reading Mr Fox's latest newsletter [pdf].


SW MEP Girling tables urgent PQ on EU handling of deadly Schmallenberg virus

Monday, 5 March 2012
South West MEP Julie Girling has today tabled an urgent parliamentary question (PQ) to the European Commission regarding the EU's handling of the Schmallenberg virus outbreak. Now affecting more than 1,000 farms across Europe, if not contained soon it threatens to devastate the continents’ livestocks and farming industries.

The virus, named after the small town of Schmallenberg, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany where the first definitive sample was identified, is thought to be carried by midges and causes late abortion or birth defects in newborn cattle, sheep and goats.

It was first discovered in the region among a flock of sheep at an undisclosed location in Cornwall, but today more confirmed cases were reported in four more counties including Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

A lamb atop a hill in Cornwall (Photo: FT)
In her urgent parliamentary question to be replied to within two weeks, Mrs Girling asks the Commission to confirm “what action it is taking regarding issuing guidelines to farmers to help them combat the virus and how it is linking with veterinary agencies to ensure appropriate action is taken to reduce its spread”.

There is major concerns in the South West region and beyond that the presence and further spread of the Schmallenberg virus could have a serious effect on the imminent lambing season.

First spotted in the UK in East Anglia and previously thought to have been confined to the South East of England, there has recently been an increase in the number of confirmed cases reported across the Channel in France. The virus has also been detected in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

On Friday the government confirmed nine more farms in the south of England have fallen victim to the disease taking the total to 92 confirmed cases in the UK alone. At the time of writing, the figure has risen to 121.

Schmallenberg produces fever, diarrhoea and loss of milk production in adult cattle, but infection is apparently symptomless in adult sheep which makes detection of the virus very difficult. As a result the true impact of the disease on the UK's sheep flock will only become clear as the lambing season reaches its peak over the next two weeks.

Humans are thought to be unaffected by the virus, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has suggested there is a low likelihood of any risk to public health saying it is "
unlikely that this virus will cause disease in humans, but it cannot be excluded at this stage".

The answer supplied on behalf of the Commission will be posted here in due course. Hopefully the virus can be quickly contained before it devastates the Europe's farming industry.


Last election:

Click here to see which six MEPs were elected.