Roger Helmer

Roger Helmer

RogerHelmer

Roger Helmer has represented East Midlands Constituents in the European Parliament since he was first elected in 1999. After representing the Conservative Party in three elections, Roger moved to UKIP in 2012. He has recently been selected as the Number One Candidate on UKIP’s East Midland Candidate list for next year’s European Elections.


I recently had the pleasure of visiting a farm at Donington in Lincolnshire and met farmers and growers, who are concerned about a very real threat to their livelihoods.

I was there to help the NFU East Midlands’ campaign for the reauthorisation of glyphosate and support their calls not to ban this vital herbicide.

The NFU is actively campaigning on the issue – fearing it could be banned by EU chiefs.

It said the active substance glyphosate, used in gardens up and down the country as Round-Up, should be re-authorised by the European Commission by the end of the year.

Germany has been made responsible for the evaluation and has recommended full re-authorisation for 15 years.

This should have happened by the end of June 2016, but the whole process has become politicised and stalled.

The NFU said there is every suggestion that this may happen again as we get closer to the end of 2017.

I saw and handled ‘black grass’. If the EU bans glyphosate it will do huge damage to agriculture, here in Lincolnshire.

Ban it and we will end up importing vegetables and grain and undermining UK agriculture in the process.

In fact, we will probably end up importing vegetables which will have had glyphosate used anyway.

The growers and farmers I met explained how crucial it was to their business – it simply is a weed control method they must have.

Its loss would bring into question the viability of wheat production on black grass infested land with very few alternatives, allowing certain fast breeding weeds to spread unchecked.

I would urge farmers to join the NFU campaign by writing to their MPs and MEPs and stressing the importance of the substance.

People can visit the NFU website and pledge their support at http://www.nfuonline.com/cross-sector/science-and-technology/crop-protection/crop-protection-must-read/glyphosate-we-need-your-support/

One further point this month, if I may.

The recent thefts at Lincoln Bomber Command Memorial are despicable – how heart-breaking and extremely frustrating for the team behind the memorial, who are working tirelessly to open the site for the public.

As for the vandals and thieves – what a complete lack of respect these people have.

One wonders what’s going through their minds – if anything at all!

Roger Helmer has represented East Midlands Constituents in the European Parliament since he was first elected in 1999. After representing the Conservative Party in three elections, Roger moved to UKIP in 2012. He has recently been selected as the Number One Candidate on UKIP’s East Midland Candidate list for next year’s European Elections.

I have written at length about the vast misallocation of resources involved in the dash for renewable energy, and especially solar and wind power.

We see analyses of the costs of solar and wind, with the industry insisting it has achieved the Holy Grail of ‘grid parity’ – in other words, cost parity with conventional generation. So this begs an interesting question – why does the industry also insist it continues to need massive subsidies?

A major part of the answer is the costings fail to account for the massive costs of back-up, which is essential when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. You’re effectively paying twice for the capacity – first, for the intermittent renewables, and a second time for the back-up.

Then conventional generation is less efficient when run intermittently as back-up for renewables, meaning higher costs and higher emissions per unit of output. Worse still, conventional generation is designed to be efficient when run steadily. You simply can’t make an economic case to build a gas-fired power station if it’s going to run intermittently. So we now have to offer capacity payments – an additional layer of subsidy to allow the back-up capacity to be built.

The day may come when solar and/or wind become economically viable. This would be based on further substantial increases in efficiency and the availability of very large-scale (and efficient) energy storage. But even then, if and when that day comes, we shall look back and regret our vast misallocation of resources on wind and solar capacity which by then will be obsolescent, old-fashioned, inefficient and expensive.

So are we in UKIP against all renewables? Not at all, and the best example to quote is hydro, which (provided you have the right locations and topography) is cheap and controllable.

I have occasionally been asked to comment on another renewable technology – anaerobic digestion. Popular on farms, the idea is to take agricultural waste, allow it to ferment, take off and burn the resulting methane – and use the residue as fertiliser. I freely admitted that I didn’t fully understand the economics of anaerobic digestion, but I had no objection to it if it was economic.

It sounds like a win-win. Free feed-stock. Free gas. Free fertiliser. If only. It doesn’t quite work like that. It’s rather like claiming that the wind is free, and so it is — if you ignore the costs of converting it to electricity. Indeed you might say that coal and oil are free – they’re just lying there in the ground and waiting for someone to come and take them away. But again, the costs of obtaining them and converting them to usable electricity are substantial.

I haven’t studied the economics of anaerobic digestion (it’s a minor issue compared to solar and wind) but fortunately The Daily Mail did.

Its conclusions are damning. First of all, there just isn’t enough agricultural waste to feed the available capacity so thousands of acres of perfectly good arable land are growing maize and other crops explicitly for anaerobic digestion. That was 131,000 acres in June 2016. Land that could be used for food, to help ensure our food security and reduce our balance of payments.

And anaerobic digestion has led to a number of leaks or even explosions that have contaminated farmland and waterways and caused the death of dozens of farm animals.

It is bizarre campaign groups and NGOs vehemently oppose shale gas development, on the grounds that it might possibly do some environmental damage, and yet seem to have nothing to say about anaerobic digestion which actually is doing great damage – and costing hundreds of millions in subsidies.

Roger Helmer has represented East Midlands Constituents in the European Parliament since he was first elected in 1999. After representing the Conservative Party in three elections, Roger moved to UKIP in 2012. He has recently been selected as the Number One Candidate on UKIP’s East Midland Candidate list for next year’s European Elections.

I recently attended a meeting at which Michel Barnier, the EU’s appointed Brexit negotiator, presented the current status from his point of view — and I had the opportunity to respond.

On the plus side, he was measured and reasonable, insisting his stance would be neither aggressive nor revengeful, setting out his stall in clear and organised terms.

But he also came up with a few propositions which might cause some consternation on our side of the Channel.

He said his three tasks were to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal, to agree a future relationship and to agree also a transitional relationship.

Many Brits will bridle at the term ‘transitional deal’, but both Barnier, and the parliament’s Brexit spokesman Guy Verhofstadt, insisted any such deal must be short-term. Verhosfstadt spoke of “sunset clauses”.

Barnier said his key principles would be “the unity of the EU 27” (we can have no problem with that); and the ‘Fundamental Four Freedoms’ (again, we can have no problem – provided he means among the 27, and not the UK, as I made clear in my response), and the third principle – member states must enjoy better terms than third countries (i.e. the UK post-Brexit).

Our view is that being out represents better terms than being in, but let that pass.

He went on to mention four key areas of concern. First, the status of acquired rights, with respect to EU citizens currently in the UK, and of course vice versa. I believe that given a degree of goodwill, this should not represent a major problem (although so far Merkel has declined to confirm this to Theresa May).

Secondly – the sticking point – future financial commitments. Barnier argues the UK has entered into future commitments with the EU, in the EIB, structural and agricultural funds, the Horizon Research programme, foreign aid and other matters, which will require us to continue to contribute to Brussels for years after Brexit.

I responded that we had entered into these commitments as an EU member state within an EU framework, and any such commitments were clearly null and void after Brexit. “We have a saying in England” (I said), “You must cut your coat according to your cloth, and let’s face it, you’re going to have less cloth”.

On the EU side Brexit is often referred to as a divorce. But as I know to my cost, divorce involves splitting the assets. “The EU has substantial real estate and other assets”, I said. “You would be astonished and affronted if the British government demanded payment for our share of these assets on Brexit. We are equally affronted by your demands to continued contributions after Brexit”.

That said, I would not rule out joining some EU programmes after Brexit – perhaps Erasmus and Horizon – but it must be on a purely voluntary basis, and at a price that represents fair value.

Thirdly, the issue of borders, and Barnier cited Gibraltar, the Cyprus RAF base at Akrotiri and Northern Ireland. As I see it, Gibraltar and Cyprus revert to the status quo ante.

Northern Ireland does represent a problem in terms of the border, but I believe that with goodwill and creative thinking a satisfactory solution can be found.

And fourthly, climate policy, which Barnier seems to believe needs to be negotiated. I in return insisted that climate policy for the UK after Brexit would be entirely a matter for a sovereign British government.

That government could decide to stick to EU policies and targets, but I hope it will not, and especially that it will not give the EU any say or status in UK energy policy.

Equally, I insisted immigration and fisheries (within our internationally-determined territorial waters) were not matters for negotiation.

A sovereign British parliament would decide.

Again, that does not preclude a range of agreements to be negotiated voluntarily, for example visa waivers on immigration, or access for foreign fishing boats to our fisheries (at a price). But it does preclude the EU having any say in those areas.

Barnier said if Britain wanted to control immigration then it could not be part of the EU Customs Union or Single Market, and would have to settle for a free trade deal.

I responded that this was very positive news, and was exactly what we (most of the Leave side) wanted.

Roger Helmer has represented East Midlands Constituents in the European Parliament since he was first elected in 1999. After representing the Conservative Party in three elections, Roger moved to UKIP in 2012. He has recently been selected as the Number One Candidate on UKIP’s East Midland Candidate list for next year’s European Elections.

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