East of England is much more than coastal erosion, beaches and farming

Children on their way to the Upminster Junior School in Essex, as pupils in England return to school for the first time in two months as part of the first stage of lockdown easing. Picture date: Monday March 8, 2021.
Children on their way to the Upminster Junior School in Essex, as pupils in England return to school for the first time in two months as part of the first stage of lockdown easing. Picture date: Monday March 8, 2021.

Meet Amelia Harper, our East of England reporter

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As your East of England reporter, I'll be covering as far north as Peterborough and South Lincolnshire, East to Norfolk, South to Hertfordshire and Essex, West to Northamptonshire and everything in-between.

It’s a large and varied patch, from intellectual and scientific hubs like Cambridge to shipping port areas in Suffolk and coastal communities in Norfolk. However, do we hear from these populations within the East of England on a national level?

Does anyone know about the challenges or the triumphs there? Not often, if ever. To throw some examples out; where would we be in the British film industry without Elstree Studios in Borehamwood; in scientific advancement without Cambridge University; or where else on Earth can one say that they are neighbours with our Monarch in Sandringham?

Swimmers at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. Picture date: Thursday March 18, 2021.
Swimmers at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. Picture date: Thursday March 18, 2021.

One of the Government’s biggest projects directly affecting homeowners in the West of the East is HS2. A 170m, 2,000 tonne tunnelling machine is going to be digging more than just a rabbit hole at the end of gardens in West Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Currently, Cecilia (HS2’s second boring machine) is making its way under the West of Watford. Some people have been forced to leave their homes to make way for this train line.

Have those peoples voices been heard? Further away in the East of the East there’s another huge billion pound project under way - which is attracting mixed responses. Suffolk’s Sizewell C. It’s UK’s latest nuclear power project proposal. Hailed as the new Hinckley point, it’s set to generate hydrogen and create 70,000 jobs nationally.

However, campaign groups like Stop Sizewell C an environmental groups want to stop the two £20billion reactors from being built. In a post-pandemic world - aren’t projects that generate jobs wanted?

These are the conversations that need to be had, ones that affect real people. Another project in the centre of our region that’s causing controversy is the recent scrapping of the £2bn Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro which would have seen a fleet of driverless pods ferrying people around the county.

Following the recent local elections, Labour’s Dr Nik Johnson, who ousted incumbent Conservative James Palmer, said he is not convinced by the finances and is unwilling to go ahead with the project. It’s cost nearly £10million. Is this value for money?

The Bedfordshire floods last Christmas has also cost residents dearly.

Homeowners near the River Great Ouse were forced out of their homes during a time when we were under strict lockdown restrictions. It was a more sociable Christmas than expected for many, with hundreds of people fleeing to stay with families and friends in other parts of the country.

As a consequence, many homes have been destroyed. It’ll take a lot more than a dustpan and brush.. When the river levels are that high there’s a real danger to life. Where’s the follow up conversations about what happens next, or what happens if this happens again? I haven’t seen it.

Undated handout photo of Business Secretary Alok Sharma meeting with Imperial College staff on a visit to the carbon capture lab. The Government has said it will start talks with EDF Energy over investing in the Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, as it published its White Paper set out plans to transition to net zero emissions by 2050.
Undated handout photo of Business Secretary Alok Sharma meeting with Imperial College staff on a visit to the carbon capture lab. The Government has said it will start talks with EDF Energy over investing in the Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk, as it published its White Paper set out plans to transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

Elsewhere in Norfolk, there’s a ‘direct risk to the life and safety of patients’… at a hospital no less. The roof at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn is currently being propped up after by scaffolding.

There’s a possible rebuild on the way, but it’s no surprise people feel uneasy about the plans in their current guise.

These are the sorts of conversations that I will bring to GB News to make sure your voices are heard. I want to hear from you. You will set the agenda and it’s news driven by you.