John Whittingdale attended the fly-in at Stow Maries Aerodrome, the last surviving First World War airfield in the country. Stow Maries Aerodrome is a Great War Aerodrome set in the rural Essex countryside.

The Aerodrome was in use from 1916 to 1919 as a home defence station in the war against Zeppelin and German aeroplane raids. It has many of its original buildings in situ which are currently undergoing restoration to bring the site back to its 1918 appearance. It also boasts a wildlife walk which was the winner of Maldon District Council Conservation and Design Award 2010.

Following a period of organisation and training at Stow Maries the first recorded operational flight took place from the aerodrome on the night of 23rd/24th May 1917 when Ridley (now promoted to Captain) and Lieutenant G Keddie were ordered aloft in response to a large Zeppelin raid targeting London. They scored no success on that occasion but as time went on the amount of operational flights grew as did the aircraft establishment of the station.

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John Whittingdale attended the 11th Maldon Beer Festival in the Town Hall, Maldon. John Whittingdale joined with members of the Maldon and Dengie Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale to celebrate the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget of a 1p cut in Beer Duty and the end of the Beer Duty escalator. Since the policy of raising Beer Duty by 2% above inflation was introduced by the Labour Government over 5,800 pubs have closed and the number of pub-goers has fallen by 3 million. John previously met CAMRAS members at Westminster who were lobbying for an end to the escalator and signed the Early Day Motion calling for it to be reviewed.

John is pictured enjoying a half of Red Herring from Green Jack in Lowestoft with Chris Harvey, CAMRA Pub Liaison Officer, and Jim Morton of the Queens Head, Burnham.

John Whittingdale visited local micro-brewer, Wibblers, in Mayland. Wibblers Brewery was started by Phil Wilcox and his father, Jeremy, in 2007. Phil began as a home brewer as an impoverished student 21 years ago with a Boots kit behind his parents' sofa. Since then, he has enjoyed success winning a number of awards and in 2007 he went commercial after "Hoppy Helper" won the Beer of the Festival atthe Maldon Beer Festival. Wibblers now produces 5 permanent beers and 6 seasonal ones and supplies Asda in East Anglia and JD Wetherspoon. The best selling beer is Apprentice which has won numerous awards including the Gold Standard at the 2011 Society of Independent Brewers East of England Competition. John is pictured with Commercial Manager, Nigel Sadler.

Following a study by the Boston Consulting Group that indicated that businesses who have a presence online, grow four to eight times faster than those who don’t, John Whittingdale secured a Google Juice Bar for businesses in Maldon.

On 21 December, Google came to Maldon for a day's session in the Maldon District Council offices to offer free advice and tips to business owners on how to make the most of the Internet and grow a business online, especially over the busy Christmas period. The Juice Bar is designed to support and advise businesses regardless of their technical expertise – from starting out and creating their first website, through to improving an existing website and online marketing.

John Whittingdale said: " I am delighted that Google agreed to come to Maldon to help local businesses improve their online presence and that every available slot was filled .The internet is becoming more and more important for business and I know that the businesses that attended found it very valuable".

Pictured are John Whittingdale and Cllr Bob Boyce, Leader of Maldon District Council, with three of the Google Training Staff.

On Tuesday (22nd January), John Whittingdale MP joined members of the Essex Wildlife Trust in Parliament to press the Government to designate the Blackwater Estuary as a Marine Conservation Zone.

The proposed Zone will cover the Roach, Crouch, Blackwater and Colne estuaries John is pictured with John Hall, Chief Executive of the Essex Wildlife Trust, and Mike Sandison, Chairman of the Trust, who lives in the Maldon District in Maylandsea. John Whittingdale’s comments come as The Wildlife Trusts held a parliamentary event to show support for the proposed network of Marine Conservation Zones in English and offshore Welsh waters, as the Government consults on which areas should be designated. The event brought to a close The Wildlife Trusts' ‘Petition Fish’ campaign, which secured almost 250,000 signatures in support of marine protection, 14,000 of which were collected in Essex.

Petition Fish was part of The Wildlife Trusts’ campaign to secure an ‘ecologically coherent’ network of Marine Protected Areas around the UK. This would allow our seas to recover from past damage and sustain current pressures.

John Whittingdale said; “I was delighted to join The Wildlife Trusts to show my support for the recommended Marine Conservation Zone network and to press the Government to include the Blackwater MCZ as one of the first designated zones. The estuary is of huge importance environmentally and it will benefit greatly from the protection that designation will bring. In particular, it will help protect the Native Oyster beds which are the UK’s rarest marine habitat. I congratulate the Essex Wildlife Trust on the work that they have done to draw up a management plan in cooperation with all those who use the estuary including the oyster fishermen and I hope that the Government will now proceed with its designation”.

Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said, "The recommended network of Marine Conservation Zones was chosen following an extensive process involving sea users from fishermen and the aggregates industry to divers and boat-users. The proposals represent a significant step forward towards an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas." The consultation runs until 31st March. People can respond through The Wildlife Trusts' website wildlifetrusts.org/haveyoursay

The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) wildlifetrusts.org There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas. Petition Fish The petition was signed by 249,859 people calling for greater marine protection in UK waters. Supporters signed silver scales and stuck them onto fish, sea horses and other marine shapes - see attached image. We can supply other images of people signing scales or with the eye-catching boards on beaches all over the country. Marine Conservation Zones 127 recommended Marine Conservation Zones were chosen after two years’ work by more than one million stakeholders from all sectors of the marine environment and at a cost of over £8.8 million to Government. You can visit all these zones on our interactive map and see some of the wonders they are home to at www.wildlifetrusts.org/MCZmap . The network was designed to ensure that special marine landscapes do not become isolated and vulnerable, and to ensure that the wide range of marine habitats found in UK seas are protected. Failure to designate all but a very small proportion of sites recommended by these stakeholders would mean that we lack the ecologically coherent network that our seas so badly need to recover. In December 2012, Defra launched its public consultation and proposed to designate only 31 of the 127 sites recommended by a broad range of sea-users through its regional projects.