July 29, 2014
New minister welcomed to Somerset by Burnham Conservative

Burnham-On-Sea's prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate, James Heappey, was the first in Somerset to welcome the new cabinet minister for the environment, farming and rural affairs to the county on Sunday.

Liz Truss has recently replaced Owen Patterson in this month's Prime Minister’s reshuffle and she is now responsible for overseeing the delivery of the Somerset flood action plan.

Mr Heappey took the Secretary of State for a tour of the Cheddar Valley to show her the lower River Axe before hosting a dinner at the New Inn at Cross to brief her on the wider flooding issues in the county and local farmer’s concerns over bovine tuberculosis and falling milk prices.

"I’m delighted that the Secretary of State asked me to show her around our part of Somerset and that she made so much time available so that I could fully brief her on the issues affecting local farmers," said Mr Heappey.

"Last winter’s floods were not just damaging for our agricultural industry but for tourism too. I emphasised to Liz that tackling flooding really does need to be a priority and that the solution is to harness the real expertise that exists within the Internal Drainage Boards and the farming community."

"The Somerset Rivers Board – or whatever it is to be called – must be dynamic and driven by local experience so that it is agile enough to manage our complex network of drains and rivers."

Following Friday’s meeting with Julie Girling MEP in Burnham-On-Sea to discuss the quality of the bathing water off Burnham’s beach, Mr Heappey also raised with the minister the need to help farmers improve the way they hold their slurry and the management of other agricultural pollutants that are partly responsible for the water quality issues off Burnham.

"I asked Liz to prioritise grant applications for farmyard upgrades from farms that were deemed by the Environment Agency to be in the parts of the catchment area that most affected bathing water quality in the town," said Mr Heappey.

"She is going to ask her department to look at how that might be achieved and we will continue to work together to help improve the quality of Burnham’s bathing water."


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