Welcome to Hemyock Thursday, August 16 2018 @ 05:00 pm BST

MP Meets Local Farmers

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General News Road pricing, carbon emissions, and the future of farming were among the issues tackled by the Shadow Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister in Hemyock last Wednesday. Jim Paice MP paid a visit to Wallace's Farm Shop to have breakfast with local farmers then answer questions over mid-morning coffee.

One of the concerns raised by the audience was that of road pricing, and how it would affect rural communities.

Mr Paice called the idea of a universal system of road pricing "daft".

"Road pricing has a role to play on the major roads, to ease congestion, but the mechanics that would be involved in a universal system just defies belief."

Payments to farmers was the next issue to be raised and the MP said it would change: "Farmers are receiving a single farm payment, based on what they produced in 2000-2003, but it's gradually moving towards a full area-based system.

"We need to shift support for agriculture to make payments to what people want from farming, such as new products and processes, so that people can see what they are getting for their money, rather than straightforward subsidies."

Nuclear energy and air travel came under scrutiny when discussion turned to carbon emissions.

The Conservative Party was considering the potential of nuclear power, but had its reservations, said Mr Paice: "It has a role to play as an energy supply, but if we evaluate the true decommissioning and storage costs, it becomes an expensive option."

On air travel, and green taxes, he said to "watch this space".

"The Shadow Chancellor will soon be making definitive comments on air travel and taxation. He and David Cameron have made it clear that green taxes should be compensated for by a reduction in taxes elsewhere."

Mr Paice was in favour of rural communities taking responsibility for their own futures, rather than MPs and officials in London.

He said: "It's about local power and decision-making, I don't believe that I or anyone else in London should be deciding the future of areas like the Blackdown Hills."

The questions over, Mr Paice said it had been an enlightening morning.

"It's very much been about finding out what the rural worries are on the ground, such as road pricing and how it would affect residents.

"It's so easy for people like me to sit in London and think we know what the issues are, but today I have picked up on issues which are worrying people, and that's only possible by meeting those concerned."

He emphasised his support for the Gazette's Use It or Lose It campaign.

"It's a very important cause, especially when the government is talking about closing 2,500 rural post offices, which is madness.

"People need to think about where their pound goes. If you shop at a national chain store, most of that pound is going to go out of the area, but if you buy local, it's much more likely local suppliers will be involved, and the money will go back into that community."