00:00 april 9, 2022
Railway Minister Wendy Morton took the train to Dawlish on Friday to announce a new funding boost for Brunel’s iconic coastal railway.
She confirmed additional funding of £32million to add vital netting and fencing along the Coastal Road, which will prevent storm debris from reaching the railway, increasing the reliability of the service, while at the same time protecting passengers and safeguarding network access for residents.
This latest round of funding follows three earlier phases of work, bringing the total to over £150m.
Traveling along the coastal road is a highlight of any trip to our area, although the opportunity to get direct sea spray, which some enjoyed, was lost after the (judicious) decision not to open windows on more modern express trains.
It’s great to see our region’s vital coastal link receiving continued funding for improvements, when for so many years before the storm of 2014, our region’s rail network was often left behind when these were national investment programs.
Another area requiring major investment is our energy infrastructure.
While very little of the gas used in the UK comes from Russia, Putin’s attack on Ukraine has driven prices up and shown the need to build resilience within our own supply.
For example, £160 million is invested in offshore wind.
There is also a new ambition for 1 GW, of the 40 GW new generation capacity by 2030, to come from floating offshore wind, a new technology allowing wind farms to be built further offshore in waters deeper, further increasing capacity.
Yet alongside this investment in renewables, we also need to increase our nuclear power.
When I was first elected I supported giving the green light to Hinkley Point C, which was much debated at the time as the first major new nuclear power station in a generation, now halfway through its construction, it seems an obvious decision to make.
Likewise, as we move away from fossil fuels, the reality is that many in our community will still be dependent on gas for heating for some time to come.
It is now all too obvious what this means for local people when supply is limited and prices rise accordingly.
This means that creating domestic supply to support a fairer transition is part of the transition to net zero, not in competition with it.
There are no simple or short-term solutions to our energy needs, the core is recognizing that there needs to be a mix of investments in different areas of supply, not just thinking that one will provide the complete solution.
My next surgeries will be on Friday 8th April from 10am to 12pm at the Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QR and Saturday 23rd April from 11am to 1pm at Paignton Library, Great Western Road, Paignton TQ4 5AG.
For an appointment you can email me at [email protected] or leave a message on 01803 214989.
The surgeries are for residents’ personal requests that they would like me to help with, such as housing or welfare, rather than a broader political debate.
There are also walk-in sessions at my office 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD between 10am and 1pm, Monday to Friday, where a member of my team will be available to answer any questions you may have.