MP raises local issues in Parliament

Speaking in the Christmas Adjournment debate, Neil Parish calls for help for flood prevention measures in Feniton and for changes to the Localism Bill to allow some of the aggregates tax to be used on local infrastructure projects which could help villages close to quarries such as Burlescombe and Westleigh.Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): It is a great pleasure to speak in this recess debate. First, I want to talk about Feniton, which is a village in my constituency that was flooded badly in 2008. In the village there are many bungalows. When they were flooded, a lot of elderly people had to go up into their lofts to get away from the floods. As one can imagine, that was a terrifying experience.There are schemes to alleviate flooding in Feniton in the future. One scheme is to build ponds in the fields at the top of the village to collect water so that it does not rush down through the village, and thus to prevent flooding. The other plan is to build a pipe through the village to take water away more quickly. The only problem with the second solution is that it would take water down to the bottom end of the village, which would probably flood that area. I therefore think that the ponds at the top of the village are the answer. I am looking to the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help finance that. I know that money is tight, but I am particularly interested in trying to help my constituents in Feniton.The other issue that I wish to raise is the aggregates levy sustainability fund, which was set up in April 2002 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and is intended to promote more environmentally friendly extraction of aggregates and to control the impact on local people.There is a quarry at the villages of Westleigh and Burlescombe in my constituency, where some 750,000 tonnes of aggregate a year is extracted. The roads through Burlescombe are particularly poor and there are a lot of old cottages there, so the transportation of that aggregate is bad not only for the safety of the village but for its properties. The extraction produces something like £1.5 million a year of aggregates tax—a tax that was set up to help local people. I should like the Government to consider, as part of the Localism Bill, allowing some of that tax to be kept locally instead of being gobbled up by the Treasury, however exciting and necessary that might be.The quarry has some 25 to 30 years to run, so we can imagine the millions of tonnes of stone that will travel through the village. It is high time that we worked out a way in which a percentage of the aggregates tax could be siphoned off and ring-fenced for the village of Burlescombe. That would bring some relief to the village.There is also a tarmac plant at the Westleigh quarry, which runs day and night at times, especially at times of the year when there is a great demand for tarmac. Again, the villagers have to put up with lorries going through the village very late at night. It is high time that the Government, who are very keen on ensuring that local people have a say, give them a say on how the aggregates tax is spent. It may take several years, but a road and relief could be provided for the villagers of Burlescombe and Westleigh if just a small levy were put on the aggregates tax.I will be interested to hear what Ministers have to say about that matter, because many of my colleagues throughout the country will have quarries in their constituencies and be in the same position. Why should people who have to put up with the problems of quarrying not get any benefit from the aggregates tax, which was set up to look after local people?| Hansard