Westminster Diary – November

 

Norfolk is home to many enterprising industries. One such business is Future Biogas, Warren Energy, located at Methwold. The anaerobic digestion plant utilises natural materials such as maize and pig bedding producing gas and electricity to feed into the national grid. Walking round the plant, it is fascinating to see the technology at work. The Methwold site, operational 24/7, uses 30,000 tonnes of pig muck and supplies the Wissington Sugar Factory with energy. Other operational sites are also at Swaffham and on the Holkham estate. Using locally grown break crops which work well with farmers’ crop rotation, the Holkham plant is capable of fueling over 2500 homes in winter, 40000 in summer.

But as I am sure many readers will know, as one of the UK’s great estates, Holkham is extremely enterprising in its outlook. Sir Edward Coke, (1552-1634) founded the family fortunes. He was Chief Justice for the Kings Bench and as Attorney General led the prosecution against Sir Walter Raleigh and the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. I was very fortunate to be asked to open the new Lady Elizabeth Wing and visitor facilities. A former bowling alley and then until more recent years produced pottery, the space has been transformed into a light, spacious wedding/function venue. The new Farm to Fork exhibition, housed in the old stables, is an interactive history of farming on the estate and with new café and shop located in what were previously the cart bays, this really is a makeover of substantial proportions with £4.5 million being invested in the site .
I had a very enjoyable visit to Stoke Ferry school. Year six pupils showed me around the classrooms and then I held a question and answer session with the school parliament. Questions ranged from my work as an MP, to what the Justice Secretary needs to do as well as the ceremonial robes I need to wear when I have special state duties. They were particularly amused that as the first Lord Chancellor to wear high heels, all previous ones were male, I needed a trainbearer!

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