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Fears that Hinkley nuclear plant is being delayed

The site for the proposed nuclear power station at Hinkley in the shadow of the existing reactors Credit: ITV News

There are growing fears that the European Commission is delaying the building of a new power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It's still to sign off all the building regulations surrounding the project.

Today Labour south west MEP Claire Moody will meet the Commission to try to speed up the process.

VAT refunds for air ambulances and rescue helicopters

As well as VAT refunds, the Government has awarded £1m to GWAAC for the new air ambulance's first year in operation Credit: ITV News

As part of the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor is to announce VAT refunds for Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities alongside £7.5 million extra support for air ambulances.

The VAT refunds will be worth £25 million over 5 years.

It is in response to the service the UK’s Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities provide, volunteering their time and expertise to support to emergency services.

At the moment, most Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance charities cannot claim VAT back on their search and rescue activities but this means they will all be able to apply for VAT refunds for them as of 1 April 2015.

The Chancellor is also due to announce £1m for Great Western Air Ambulance, which will pay for the new helicopter's running costs in its first year of operation.

This is really fantastic news. The Great Western Air Ambulance [GWAA] does an amazing job, being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, saving lives, getting casualties to hospital quickly as well as being able to offer first class medical treatment at the scene.

This money, as well as helping with the cost of their new helicopter, will put the GWAA on a long-term sustainable financial footing which will enable them to continue their fabulous work for many years to come.

– Jack Lopresti MP, Con, Filton & Bradley Stoke

Prime Minister says Britain can't afford not to upgrade road network

David Cameron being questioned at Stonehenge this afternoon Credit: ITV News West Country

The Prime Minister has insisted that Britain can afford the £15bn road improvements announced by the Coalition today which include plans to dual the A303 and take the road through a tunnel under Stonehenge.

Mr Cameron visited Stonehenge this afternoon where he said that Britain "can't afford not to do this"

The south west is an absolutely vital part of our country and this is going to delivering expressway effectively - dual carriageway all the way between the M3 and the M5. Its going to make a huge difference.Its going to make sure that economic growth we have will spread to every part of our country

– David Cameron, Prime Minister

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Nick Clegg pledge on roads improvement money

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has told ITV News that the allocation of money for billions of pounds worth of road improvements will be enshrined in law.

He was speaking at Stonehenge where he made the announcement of more than 80 new road schemes costing £15bn. This includes a plan to dual the A303 which will take the road under Stonehenge.

Taunton Deane welcomes A358 plans

THE Government’s announcement that it is to invest in vital improvements to the A358 between Taunton and the A303 near Ilminster is being celebrated by civic leaders in Taunton Deane.

The improvement, announced today, is part of £2 billion of investment in roads in the South West, with the improvements to the A303 at Sparkford and the A358 Taunton link being the first to enter construction.

“We recognise the frustration and concerns about the roads congestion at present which is caused by an inadequate road system.

“I am delighted the Government has at last helped us to find a solution to this long outstanding problem that has so long held back our economy. Our community has suffered excessive congestion and air pollution for far too long.

– Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Borough Council

Yeovil MP welcomes road improvement plans

Yeovil MP David Laws has welcomed the road improvements Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Yeovil MP David Laws has welcomed the Government's plans to dual the A303 and A358, all the way from the M3 to the M5 at Taunton.

The plan does not involve dualling the A303 over the sensitive Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty, but instead there will be smaller scale improvements to this stretch of road. The whole plan is expected to take over a decade to deliver. The most expensive parts are a 2.9km tunnel (costing £1.2bn) around Stonehenge, and the £300m dualling of the A358, from Ilminster to the M5 at Taunton.

‘I am absolutely delighted that the Coalition Government is going ahead with this significant plan to upgrade the A303 and the A358 – neither of which are currently fit for purpose. Current levels of road congestion and delays are unacceptable, and it is totally inappropriate that a busy A303 runs right past Stonehenge – a monument of world heritage importance.

‘I have been campaigning for this plan for many years, and it has taken a Coalition Government with a strong Liberal Democrat membership to finally secure some action.

‘The plan is exactly what I have wanted – with the A303 dualled from Ilminster eastwards, and the A358 dualled up to the M5 at Taunton.

‘This is good news for travel across the region and within Somerset – making it easier for my constituents to access Taunton, the M5 and the M3.

– David Laws MP

New junction planned for M49 at Avonmouth

A new junction off the M49 at Avonmouth is part of the series of roads improvements announced by the Government today.

The junction is proposed for the area where Farm Lane - linking Severn Beach and Easter Compton - crosses the M49 motorway, south of the existing distribution park.

This new junction will help unlock growth in the Avonmouth/Severnside Enterprise Area - the largest brownfield site in Western Europe - opening it up and linking it to other key centres in the south west and nationally and delivering up to 14,000 new jobs by 2030.

“We are absolutely delighted with this announcement; it is the necessary catalyst for opening up the Avonmouth/Severnside Enterprise Area and delivering thousands of new jobs. We have worked closely with the Highways Agency on the plans, and together are determined to deliver this as soon as possible,”

– Colin Skellett, West of England LEP
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