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Darren calls for district heating and end to fuel poverty

During Citizens Advice Big Energy Saving Week 2018, Darren Jones MP called on Bristol City Council and partners to investigate the potential of district heating in Bristol North West following a roundtable event.

The roundtable (on 26th January), organised by the MP, connected the council, with Ambition Lawrence Weston, Bristol Energy, energy specialists from the Association of Decentralised Energy as well as energy planning and design experts from ARUP and Bond Dickinson alongside Viridor, who are currently building the new Energy Recovery Centre in Avonmouth.

Darren Jones MP said:

“During Big Energy Savings Week 2018, I have worked to bring a range of experts together to discuss how we can bring the benefits of district heating to Bristol North West. District heating is the collection of power plants’ waste heat for the heating of homes and businesses. This is a way of heating Bristol homes which is far cheaper and more CO2 efficient than fossil fuels. It is also sustainable, because it uses energy being created anyway – and it saves people money on their bills!

As well as pushing for investigation into the potential of district heating, I am continuing to back National Energy Action’s (NEA) Warm Homes Campaign to fight fuel poverty. It’s an important issue that we simply cannot ignore. Living in a cold home can lead to ill health, especially in those who are vulnerable such as older people, young children, and those with long term sickness and disabilities. I am continuing to encourage constituents to save money by switching energy suppliers –17% in Bristol North West have taken advantage of the big savings that are on offer but it would be great to see more people save by switching. Customers can save hundreds of pounds – especially if they have been with the same supplier for years.

Independent, local groups such as C.H.E.E.S.E also offer thermal imaging surveys which identify where heat is being lost in the home and suggest remedies to reduce bills. Free surveys are available to households on lower incomes so everyone can benefit from their advice.

I am keen to secure cheaper energy bills for my constituents, whether that’s through district heating projects or in the short-term encouraging switching to a better energy deal. More needs to be done nationally to tackle fuel poverty, but I look forward to working alongside the council to help build the case for district heating in Bristol North West”.

Maria Wardrobe, Director of Communications and External Relations for NEA commented:

“Between 2016-2017 Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) figures have gone up in England and Wales, and are 39.5% higher than last year (up by almost 10,000 from 24,580). Although fuel poverty and EWD can’t be shown to be definitively connected, over one-third excess winter deaths in this period were caused by respiratory diseases, which are known to be severely exacerbated by the cold.”

To learn more about the NEA and their Warm Homes Campaign visit www.nea.org.uk.

You can find out more about C.H.E.E.S.E here:  https://cheeseproject.co.uk/home-surveys 

 

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Save Money this Big Energy Saving Week

Darren Jones MP is backing Big Energy Saving Week.

Big Energy Saving Week is a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills. It is a partnership between Citizens Advice, the Energy Saving Trust and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with the support of numerous organisations, charities and companies.

Darren Jones MP said:

” Many people stay on the same tariff or with the same supplier for years without realising they could be getting a better deal elsewhere. They could be saving around £300 a year, particularly if they have never switched before.  Switching is also easier than many people think and can be done in a day. You can use the independent  Citizens Advice Energy Price Comparison Tool to see if you can save”.

To find out more about Big Energy Saving Week and get money-saving tips click here.

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Darren backs campaign to cut supermarket plastic waste

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed up to support a campaign to push supermarkets to reduce use of unnecessary plastic.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I’ve proudly supported a campaign led by Catherine West MP to tackle the use of excessive plastic packaging.

I was a co-signee on a letter sent to all the major supermarkets  including Tesco CEO David Lewis.

I’m hoping with a bit of pressure from MP’s more supermarkets and retail outlets will follow Iceland’s lead and commit to reducing unnecessary and damaging plastic waste”.

 

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Darren backs the Blue Belt

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has signed up to support Great British Ocean’s Back the Blue Belt campaign.

Darren Jones MP said:

“I am delighted to be supporting this vitally important campaign. With the fifth largest marine estate in the world, the UK and its Overseas Territories are custodian to the largest coral atoll on earth, globally significant populations of albatross, whales and turtles, and as many as a quarter of the penguins on the planet.

Through the actions of successive governments, the UK has demonstrated global leadership in ocean conservation. I call on the UK to reaffirm this leadership by working with the governments of the Overseas Territories to deliver on Blue Belt pledges”.

What is the Blue Belt?

(info taken from Great British Oceans).

The Blue Belt will be a series of large protected areas of ocean around 7 of the 14 British Overseas Territories, all of which are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

The Blue Belt consists of Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha.

The surrounding areas of ocean are vast marine estates that contain breeding grounds for a quarter of the world’s penguins, a third of the world’s albatrosses, endangered turtles, and the world’s largest coral atoll. Together, these Territories will create 4 million square kilometres of ocean – an area larger than India.

Marine Protected Areas like these have been found to be a productive, cost-effective and viable way to preserve the ocean’s wildlife. They protect vital ecological processes for both local communities and the planet as a whole.

The proposal is for Overseas Territory Governments to get the support they need to create a Blue Belt. Combined with UK waters, this could become the largest network of marine reserves in the world.

 

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Darren says save £ by switching suppliers

MP for Bristol North West, Darren Jones has called on constituents to consider saving money by switching energy suppliers.  New figures released from the Energy Switch Guarantee (ESG) reveal that 17% in Bristol North West have switched electricity supplier and potentially saved hundreds of pounds during the last year, equating to 7,757 people per year.

The Energy Switch Guarantee is a commitment by energy suppliers – from the largest to some of the newest in the market – to make switching simple, speedy and safe and will soon cover 90 percent of the market.

Darren Jones MP said:

“Over 17% in Bristol North West have taken advantage of the big savings that are on offer but it would be great to see more join them. Customers can save hundreds of pounds -especially if they have been with the same supplier for years.

“This winter I encourage everyone in Bristol North West to take a few minutes to find out if they can be on a better energy deal. If you haven’t switched before you might think it is a bit daunting but as I found out, it’s really simple. And with the Energy Switch Guarantee in place customers can be reassured that switching will be simple, speedy and safe so make sure your supplier has signed up.”

Tina Tietjen, Independent Chair of the Energy Switch Guarantee, said:

“Over 4.5 million customers have switched energy supplier so far this year and while some areas of the country – like Yorkshire in particular – are taking advantage of the potential savings on offer, others are missing out. It only takes a few minutes to find out if you’re on the best deal. Either get in touch with your supplier or look online to make sure you are on the best deal for you. There are huge savings to be made and the Energy Switch Guarantee provides customers with extra reassurance that the process will be simple, speedy and safe.”

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Bristol MPs call for pension fund to go fossil free

On the eve of an international summit on climate finance, Darren Jones, Kerry McCarthy, Thangam Debbonaire  and Karin Smith join over 100 MPs to call on the Parliamentary Pension Fund to drop investments in oil, coal and gas companies.

The four Bristol Labour MPs are among a cross-party group of over 100 MPs (1) who demand that their £612 million MPs’ Pension Fund removes its substantial holdings from fossil fuel companies to reflect their concerns about climate change. The fund currently holds a £5.6 million stake in BP and £4.9 million in Shell.

 

This week, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell became the 99th and 100th MPs to sign the Divest Parliament pledge (2). This milestone comes as 50 heads of state, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, arrive in Paris for an international summit on climate change and finance.

MPs are responding to a rising call for divestment, with over 800 organisations and investors worth over $5 trillion having already committed to divest from fossil fuels (3).

In a joint statement, Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, and the other MPs said:

“Two years on from the Paris agreement, and with the devastating impacts of climate change already apparent, there is no room for continued investment in companies whose business is incompatible with our climate obligations. It is vital that MPs show leadership on positive solutions to tackle climate change which benefit society and our constituents. We are therefore proud to support the call for our pension fund to divest from fossil fuels.”

Patrick Killoran  from the Divest Parliament campaign said:

‘ I’m deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change here and around the world. It’s great to see MPs listening to their constituents and showing political leadership on climate action.

Investing in companies such as BP and Shell, who continue to dig for more fossil fuels and lobby against climate policy to line executives’ pockets, is dangerous and wrong.

I hope more MPs will join those committing to Divest Parliament today, and prioritise concrete action to build a clean, fair energy system for all.”

Two years ago this week, the UK government joined nearly 200 nations in signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. To meet the commitment to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, with the aspirational target of 1.5°C, scientists have warned the vast majority of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground.

Yet, the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF) continues to invest millions of pounds of MPs’ savings in fossil fuel companies. Both BP and Shell are among the fund’s top 20 holdings – along with mining firm Rio Tinto, British American Tobacco and Amazon -which were made available for the first time in March 2017. The pension fund has to date been unwilling to make public the full list of its investments.

With the value of fossil fuel companies’ stock based on their entire fossil fuel reserves–not just the small percentage that can safely be burned–these investments are not only environmentally destructive, but represent a significant financial risk. Meanwhile, the industry continues to funnel billions every year to find and develop yet more fossil fuel reserves. Both BP and Shell have been involved in lobbying against climate solutions, and BP was identified at the top of a list of firms obstructing climate action in Europe (4).

The 100 pledges follow the efforts of thousands of citizens across the UK, who have written to and met with MPs from the across the political spectrum, urging them to demonstrate their commitment to protecting our society and shared environment from the risks associated with burning and investing in fossil fuels.

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Darren shares views on protection of bees

Following constituent enquiries in relation to the use of neonicotinoids and bees, Darren has shared his thoughts:

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West said:

“The importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy is clear and I share my constituent’s concern about declining bee numbers.

I support the current European-wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids on crops that are attractive to bees and other pollinators because I believe that it is a proportionate response to the mounting scientific evidence which demonstrates the risk of neonicotinoids to bees.

The UK Government has said that current environmental regulations – including the ban on neonicotinoids – will remain in place until we leave the EU. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is reviewing the scientific evidence and there are draft proposals for a full EU ban on the three most commonly used neonicotinoids. I support this ban and at the last General Election I stood on a manifesto which committed to protect our bees by prohibiting neonicotinoids as soon as our EU relationship allows us to do so.

It is vital that we take a science-led approach to pesticide use and consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators. I would like to see further research into identifying suitable substitutes to neonicotinoids and support for integrated pest management measures which would benefit the farming community without posing risks to the environment, and human or animal life.

I can assure my constituents that I will be urging the UK Government to show leadership within the EU by following evidence-based policy and pressing for a ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids. The UK Government must set out how it intends to ensure that existing environmental protections are maintained and enhanced once the UK has left the EU.”

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Sims Metal consultation with Avonmouth community

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging residents of Avonmouth to contribute to a consultation by Sims Metal Management in relation to plans for changes at their site.

Darren said:

“Sims Metal have advised me they are undertaking a public consultation on their operations prior to submitting planning applications for the site. I would urge residents to share their views by visiting the consultation event on Tuesday 28th November 3 to 8pm at Avonmouth Community Centre or by returning the feedback card local residents have been sent. If you can’t attend the event or have not received a feedback card, you can also email feedback@consultation-online.co.uk or call 0800 298 7040.

You can find out more about the consultation and Sim’s proposals online.

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MP encourages applications to Gigabit Broadband Scheme

Bristol North West MP, Darren Jones is encouraging Bristol’s small and medium-sized businesses (as well as local residents) to apply for funding available through a new Government broadband scheme.

Businesses may be able to get a grant of up to £3,000 to upgrade business broadband to a Gigabit-capable connection. This is through a Gigabit Voucher Scheme which will provide vouchers to support the capital costs of getting new gigabit-capable connections for businesses. There are also vouchers worth up to £500 available to connect homes in Bristol.

You can find out more by visiting Connecting Bristol. 

Darren said:

“Slow and patchy broadband is a real problem for many residents and businesses here in Bristol North West – it is holding back some local businesses as so much time is wasted on slow connections. This scheme won’t solve the wide-spread issues the UK has with broadband speeds but it is a step in the right direction and I welcome the DCMS’s investment. I urge businesses and residents interested in getting super-fast gigabit broadband to apply for the funding available to this area”.