East of England Key to Tackling Climate Emergency and Rebuilding the Economy Post-Covid, Says Cross-Party Group
A roadmap for promoting sustainable and inclusive growth in the East of England, while spearheading the UK’s battle against the climate emergency, has been showcased at the Houses of Parliament.
MPs, business leaders, councillors and entrepreneurs were invited to the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) Parliamentary reception on October 19 where the APPG laid out its vision for the region’s green future.
Before the presentation, a minute’s silence was held in honour of Sir David Amess MP.
The APPG’s plans were handed to George Freeman MP, the Government’s Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, identifying four main priorities for the region.
These include delivering a climate positive region, ensuring sustainable and inclusive economic growth, improved connectivity and decarbonisation and securing financially resilient councils.
Cllr Linda Haysey, Chairman of EELGA, said: “The East of England can be a leading light for the UK’s green ambitions while building a sustainable and inclusive economy.
“Today we call on the Government to back our roadmap for investment and growth in the region and to meet the East of England’s priorities for infrastructure and levelling up.”
The region has huge economic potential, one of just three to regularly contribute more to the public purse than it receives.
Suffolk and Essex in particular act as a crucial gateway and entry point to the UK, including Britain’s biggest and busiest container port in Felixstowe, welcoming around 2,000 ships each year – including the largest in the world.
The recent news that the port, alongside Harwich, is set to become one of the UK’s new Freeports further cements the area as a linchpin for the country’s logistics.
Essex also boasts the UK’s fourth busiest airport, with Stansted Airport serving more than 27 million passengers every year.
It is also a hub for freight, with Harwich International Port running crucial cargo services to the Hook of Holland.
Add to that innovation centres, such as BTs Adastral Park at Martlesham Heath, and you have a driving force for sustainable economic growth and tackling the climate crisis.
The APPG argues with increased investment, targeted at the right areas, the region is well placed to fuel the economic recovery following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
The roadmap, “Achieving Sustainable and Inclusive Growth: The East of England Offer”, declares the region’s partners are ready to play their role in delivering carbon net zero by 2050 – and possibly even sooner with the right investment.
Although it supports the Government’s drive to level up parts of the UK, it warns the East of England should not be ‘levelled down’ as a consequence, urging MPs to build a more inclusive economy.
Transport links and connectivity are also identified as key areas needing investment, with the aim of decarbonising the transport network and enhancing the region’s 4G/5G networks.
Local councils will also play a vital role in the push for a sustainable and inclusive economy – but increased investment must run alongside giving councils more time to prepare bids and more flexibility in generating income.
Following the presentation, George Freeman MP said: “It would be a fitting tribute to Sir David Amess MP to build an inclusive eastern England so everyone – from windiest Norfolk to muddiest Essex and north of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – feels part of the innovation economy that is so crucial to our future.
“This is a historic opportunity to reset the UK economic model – to end our reliance on cheap labour and start an R&D-based, productive economy. And the East of England is leading the way”
Cllr Haysey added: “The East of England is one of the UK’s fastest growing regions in terms of both population and economy and one of just three that regularly contributes more to the treasury than it receives.
“Our vision looks to build on these strengths to help the region become a leading light in the battle against climate change while rebuilding a sustainable and inclusive economy following the pandemic.”
Peter Aldous MP, Co-Chair of the East of England APPG, said:
“The East of England has a strong track record in making the most from any investment in our region, for example New Anglia LEPs Growth deal has already led to the creation of 3,005 new jobs, 2,189 learners, more than 800 homes and £676.4m of matched funding. Investment in a green recovery and levelling up in this region pays dividends – after all it is only one of three regions that gives more than it takes from the Treasury.
“I am sure, for example, that the Minister for Science, Research and Innovation will want to support our globally renowned life sciences sector, which were so instrumental in the development and delivery of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, so they can play their part in the green recovery.”
Daniel Zeichner, Co-Chair of the East of England APPG said:
“In advance of the all-important Spending Review, I am delighted MPs and council Leaders have come together to put forward their agenda for building back better and levelling up the East of England. The report, compiled after five evidence sessions at which twenty experts gave evidence, makes fifteen specific recommendations.
“Government support is requested to complement the activity of LEPs, sub national transport bodies and local authorities who are all driving forward the shared agenda of building back better, getting to net zero and levelling up.”
The APPG and EELGA’s roadmap for the region “Achieving Sustainable and Inclusive Growth: The East of England Offer” can be found here.