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Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards November 2021 column – Omicron, HS2 and COP26

Rushcliffe MP Ruth Edwards update constituents in her monthly column for November 2021. 

Ruth writes:

With Christmas only weeks away, I know that there is a lot of concern about the new Coronavirus ‘Omicron’ variant, which has been identified in Nottingham, Brentwood, Essex and Scotland.

I spoke to the Department of Health over the weekend, who confirmed that the household with the omicron case identified in Nottingham have been isolating and that mass testing is being deployed across the local area to identify any more cases. 

Whilst there has been speculation about the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines against this variant, vaccine manufacturers and health bodies have already said that they are studying the Omicron variant closely and will factor it into their next production runs. 

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In the meantime, it is still important that people come forward and get vaccinated if they are eligible. It’s the best way to protect yourselves and your families from serious illness due to COVID-19 and to relieve pressure on vital NHS services.

The Health Secretary announced today that the booster will now be offered to everyone over the age of 18, in order of descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those vulnerable to COVID-19. 12–15-year-olds can receive a second vaccine 12 weeks after their first.

There are five vaccination sites based in GPs and pharmacies across Rushcliffe. These are in Cotgrave, East Leake, West Bridgford (two sites) and one in Radcliffe-on-Trent.

On a more positive note, HS2 will now run from Birmingham to East Midlands Parkway, with train times between the two slashed by 45 minutes and HS2 trains running on directly into Nottingham, rather than passengers needing to take an additional train to Toton. Government is considering three additional options for taking the service north.

This was confirmed alongside the full electrification of the Midland Main Line in the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and the Midlands. Launched last week, it represents over £10 billion of government investment in the East Midlands region. 

The next phase of electrification will begin before Christmas and will make trains across the East Midlands faster and more efficient, whilst lowering the environmental impact of rail travel as we scrap the noisy and dirty diesel engines that have powered our railways for years. 

It’s great to see such a significant investment in the East Midlands and in Rushcliffe and I will continue to push for local improvements under my Better Transport for Rushcliffe campaign.

When it comes to our environmental record, the UK has a lot more than the decarbonisation of rail to be proud of.

I was lucky enough to represent Rushcliffe at COP26 earlier this month, where I met with the CEO of IKEA UK and heard about their plans for all IKEA furniture to be ‘circular’ by 2030. I also met with companies leading the green energy revolution in offshore wind and tidal power and I’m delighted that the Government will be including tidal power in its next Contracts for Difference scheme which opens next month. 

The scale of the event was quite something, as were some of the commitments made over the conference. As someone who campaigned for tougher action on deforestation to be included in the Environment Bill, I was thrilled that 130 countries, representing 90% of the world’s forests, pledged to end deforestation by 2030 and provide nearly £14bn of public and private funding to help do so. 

I was also pleased to see more countries accelerating their ambition to move to zero emission cars, following the UK’s ambitious pledge to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. 

Like many of you, I was disappointed that we couldn’t get all participants to agree to phase out rather than phase down use of coal power but encouraged that 65 countries have and that all major coal financing countries have committed to end international coal finance by the end of this year. 

In the same week as COP26, the landmark Environment Act, received Royal Assent paving the way for a more sustainable future for the UK.


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