The future of two proposed windfarms, one at Hempnall and one near Rushall, should be decided this autumn.
In March I spoke at the planning inquiry into the Hempnall turbines, stressing the importance of listening to local views. The people of Hempnall have twice made their views on these proposals abundantly clear, by a margin of four to one against.
The whole direction of planning policy is to give local people a greater say. That is why I made strong representations to the Government to ensure that the decision on these turbines was not taken by a planning inspector but by the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.
Mr Pickles has agreed and will make the final decision on these proposed windfarms. We will see what he decides in due course.
TOWN COUNCIL SPENDING
If you trade in Diss you pay business rates to South Norfolk Council, regardless of whether you are a small independent firm or a national chain.
However, many local business owners may be surprised to know that not a single penny of their taxes comes back to Diss Town Council in the same way that a small proportion of council tax revenue does. Any business rates paid in Diss gets split between the Government, South Norfolk Council and Norfolk County Council.
Local people know what is best for their communities and Diss Town Council works hard to make sure Diss is a great place to live, work and do business. I’ll be talking to Government ministers about whether town and parish councils should get a share of the business rates collected in their areas.
The UK was battered by major storms over Christmas and coastal flooding hit East Anglia, with cliff erosion at Hemsby causing several properties to collapse into the sea.
The Prime Minister’s flood envoy for East Anglia, Skills Minister and Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock, has recently been to Norfolk to learn about the impact of the flooding and the effectiveness of the official response.
I am glad that our local councils worked well with the Environment Agency, as this wasn’t the case everywhere. However,it is worrying that homeowners did not always believe the door-to-door flood warnings from Norfolk’s firefighters or police.
It is good news that Mr Hancock is in Norfolk’s corner on this and that he is determined to ensure that lessons are learned in time for the next storm season.