Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.
Last week saw Nissan solidify its relationship with Sunderland and the North East further when the company announced that their two new car models, the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV, would be built here in Sunderland.
The news which was expected later this month, was brought forward and definitely lifted a weight off the shoulders of those who work at the Sunderland plant and within the supply chain, here in the North East and across the country.
It is not surprising that many people were apprehensive about the impending decision, especially after comments by Chief Executive, Carlos Ghosn, on future investment here in Sunderland due to Brexit. But what this news has done is allowed families who depend on Nissan for their jobs and livelihoods to plan for the future, now that they are secure.
It is only right that we celebrate the good fortune our City and the wider North East region received last week, and recognise the sigh of relief for the many tens of thousands of families, rather than dampen the jubilant mood felt across the region with scepticism. There will be time to discuss what deal was struck and the content of the letter, but for now, this is good news and that should not be forgotten.
+ This week saw LACA’s National School Meals Week return.
National School Meals Week is a year-round initiative which promotes pupils taking up school meals and showcases the improvement seen over the years. Our school catering workforce is larger than the British Navy but can often be overlooked when it comes to celebrating the improvements we have seen in school food over the last decade.
That is why it is important that we recognise all of their contributions to the health, education and well-being of our children.
It was for this reason that I was delighted to invite Audrey Chappell of Albany Primary School to come down to London and cook in Parliament’s kitchens, and for me to go along and see her in action and hear about her day’s experiences. It was lovely to hear about everything Audrey got up to on her visit and how it would not be an experience she will forget.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - July-Oct 2016 number 88
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - July-Oct 2016 number 88
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
At Prime Minister’s Questions on 13th January 2016, Sharon pressed the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision by the Energy Secretary last year to scrap Renewables Obligation Certificates which will be detrimental to the planned investment of £3 million for the windfarm at the Nissan Factory at the Turbine Industrial Park in Sunderland.
Image copyright Parliamentary Recording Unit 2016
This comes ahead of the House of Commons debating the 2nd Reading of the Government’s Energy Bill on Monday 18th January 2016, where the general principles of the Bill will be debated.
Sharon called on the Prime Minister to rectify the decision from last year and the negative effect this will have on pro-green businesses, like Nissan.
An amendment to introduce a ‘grace period’ for projects already in the pipeline was rejected when the Energy Bill was considered in the House of Lords, but there are now moves to see this amendment re-introduced during the Commons’ stages of the Bill.
The full exchange between Sharon and the Prime Minister can be seen below, or read here in the Official Hansard.
In her question to the Prime Minister, Sharon asked:
Last year the Energy Secretary scrapped support under the Renewables Obligation for new onshore wind projects, which will impact the £3 million investment by Nissan at their windfarm in my constituency. Does the Prime Minister realise that his attacks on clean energy are detrimental to pro-green businesses, like Nissan, and will he look into this immediately and rectify it in the Energy Bill next week?
To which the Prime Minister responded:
We had extensive exchanges about this in the Liaison Committee yesterday, and I can tell the hon. Lady that we are going to see another 50% increase in onshore wind investment during this Parliament. Also, Britain has the biggest offshore wind market anywhere in the world. The Leader of the Opposition raised the question of solar. Britain has the fourth largest solar installation of any country anywhere in the world. Indeed, my new favourite statistic is that 98% of those solar panels have been installed since I was Prime Minister. This is all good news, and it means that we have a genuine claim to be leading a renewables revolution. However, every single subsidy that is given to these technologies is extra money that we put on to people’s bills, making their energy more expensive. So it is right that we seek a balance between decarbonising our economy and making sure we do it at a low cost to our consumers and the people who pay the bills. That is what our policy is all about.
Commenting after the Prime Minister’s response, Sharon said:
“The Prime Minister again has used his hot-air rhetoric to deflect from the arguments regarding the future of clean energy here in the UK and has ignored the wealth of support from pro-green businesses, such as Nissan here in Sunderland to invest in clean energy.
“With businesses, like Nissan, wanting to invest in the future of our energy infrastructure and security, it is concerning that the Prime Minister and his ministers have scrapped support that will be detrimental to this investment.
“That is why in the upcoming Energy Bill, I hope that Government ministers will seriously reconsider their short-sighted actions that will affect businesses, consumers and our environment alike.”
Sharon Hodgson MP highlights Nissan’s achievements on production of their new model Qashqais, and questions the Prime Minister’s attitudes to Trade Unions. 16th September 2015
Image copyright BBC Parliament, 2015.
Sharon went along to meet with Gary Collin, General Manager of the Nissan Sports and Leisure Complex to hear about their exciting Washington Football Club “Community Family Festival” event on Sunday August 9th 2015.