MP’s column: Take pride in Riseholme

Riseholme College, Lincolnshire Show Ground, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, 20 November, 2015. Pictured:  Official opening of the Riseholme Campus by LtoR Sir Edward Leigh MP, Clive Howarth, Skills Funding Agency, Jeanette Dawson, Principal EMN-151217-073041001
Riseholme College, Lincolnshire Show Ground, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, 20 November, 2015. Pictured: Official opening of the Riseholme Campus by LtoR Sir Edward Leigh MP, Clive Howarth, Skills Funding Agency, Jeanette Dawson, Principal EMN-151217-073041001

Lincolnshire is, in so many ways, the premier agricultural county of England.

In order to safeguard that legacy, we have to ensure that the next generation is given the best opportunity to learn the ways of the land.

It was a privilege and an honour to be at the Lincolnshire Showground recently to officially open Riseholme College’s new campus there.

This is the first agricultural college campus to be built in Great Britain in more than 50 years, which only underscores the dire need for such facilities in our county.

Some 85 per cent of this county’s economic output is driven by agriculture and its associated industries, so providing high-quality land-based education is what makes Riseholme so valuable to us and so essential to the future.

As I was taken on a tour of the campus, I was deeply impressed by the state-of-the-art facilities and how well they complemented the rural environment. Riseholme, which has been serving Lincolnshire for 60 years now, is ensuring that we are not just preserving our rural way of life, but augmenting it through training and productive links with industry. Students can now pursue their land-based studies to degree level here in Lincolnshire, which some 40 young people have taken up.

This county can be proud of Riseholme and we must count it among our most precious institutions.

News of the demise of the International Air Show that took place annually at RAF Waddington in my Conservative colleague Karl McCartney’s constituency was received with disappointment by many in Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.

The air show had run since the 1990s and, as well as contributing to this county’s proud aeronautical heritage, it brought many enthusiasts here from across England and even Europe.

Immediately, however, thought was being given to using RAF Scampton and moving the air show there. I wrote to the Ministry of Defence pointing out that Lincolnshire’s ideal flying conditions and our long, proud RAF legacy make a perfect combination for hosting an air show. I was pleased when one of the defence ministers, Lord Howe, wrote back to me to let me know that the ministry is giving this serious consideration. There is a lot of planning and co-ordination that would have to go into this, but with 2016 just around the corner, it won’t be possible until 2017 at the earliest.

RAF Scampton is already home to the popular Red Arrows aerobatic team, and I’m convinced that hosting an air show would be great for the area and for local businesses. It also strengthens our resolve to fight against local wind turbine planning applications.

These ominous shifting blades have a dark potential to interfere with our reputation as a good flying country and I’m glad to see local opinion still standing firmly against them. But, turbines aside, I’m confident of the case for RAF Scampton hosting an air show, and I will continue to put this case forward in my representations to ministers whenever I can.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Gainsborough Constituency