The last two weeks have been heavily dominated by our highly successful conference on Hinkley, but there is plenty of other news too…
Greens refer back Hinkley decision to the Commission
On the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Green MEPs wrote to Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition, insisting she reopen the decision on funding for the Hinkley C nuclear power station. Greens argue that the decision, reached by the previous European Commission, was made on the basis of financial arrangements which have changed fundamentally in recent months. Molly says:
“The Hinkley project is in disarray. It is now clear that there are fundamental changes to the basis on which the state aid determination was made by the Commission in October 2014 and we therefore insist that Commissioner Vestager re-examine the decision.”
The announcement that Greens were referring back the decision was made at a conference in London, hosted by Green MEPs and attended by nuclear and energy experts from around the world. See a full report on the conference speakers together with links to their insightful presentations.
We achieved good coverage in the local and regional press including in the Western Morning News and Molly was quoted in a story in the Guardian.
Molly demands skilled staff make mental health assessments
Following a visit to Mind in Somerset, Molly expressed her shock and dismay at the fact mental health assessments are being carried out by unqualified people with few or no skills or expertise in mental health issues. The assessments are made under the government’s Work Capability Assessments (WCA) programme. Molly says:
“That these assessments are being carried out by those with no expertise in mental health is nothing short of scandalous and just adds to the distress to those who are already highly vulnerable.”
Molly is calling on US corporation Maximus, who have won the new WCA contract, to ensure that only those with skills and expertise in mental health issues make such assessments. Ultimately the Green Party want to scrap WCA believing the cost in both financial and human terms is too great.
Flawed seeds proposal withdrawn
Greens have welcomed news that the EU Commission has withdrawn a proposal on seeds and seed marketing, as this legislation would have further concentrated the power of multinationals such as Monsanto and Syngenta over seeds. Molly says:
“The withdrawal of this fatally flawed seeds legislation is encouraging, both for small farmers and biodiversity in agriculture. The efforts of small-scale farmers, growers and horticulturalists in seed-saving, exchange and sharing knowledge of locally-adapted varieties, should be commended, not endangered. The EU Commission should ensure that any new proposal protects the biodiversity of seeds and, crucially, the rights of farmers and gardeners to decide how to use their plant material.”
Standing up for small scale cider producers
Molly has written to the Commission requesting they continue to grant an excise duty exemption for small scale producers of cider and perry. This followed news that the Commission has ordered the UK government to amend its excise duty scheme exempting such producers. Molly says:
“Cider production is a key local industry in the South West and such a move threatens the viability of many small scale producers. I have asked the Commission to justify why it is not possible to maintain a tax exemption to small scale producers. Small businesses and producers will take the greatest hit from this ruling and it will allow the large corporate producers to further dominate and monopolise the cider market. Ultimately it means threats to jobs and livelihoods and threats to consumers through less variety, choice and lower quality.”