Tom Heap has been appointed BBC News’s rural affairs correspondent following the decision earlier this year to increase coverage of social and political issues in the countryside.
Previously science and environment correspondent, Heap will be based in Birmingham and report on issues ranging from farming to rural crime, filing across the main BBC News bulletins and Radio 4’s Today programme as well as working with producers of BBC One’s Countryfile and Radio 4’s Farming Today. He will take up his new post at the end of the month.
Heap has already covered a number of stories of significance to the countryside, including foot and mouth, Common Agricultural Policy reform, the building of new airports, vanishing species and global warming.
“I’m looking forward to the role and providing engaging features for radio and television,” he said.
Deputy head of BBC newsgathering Vin Ray added: “As well as enhancing our coverage of rural issues, this post is part of a continuous process of reporting Britain better. Tom Heap is an ideal candidate for the role – a senior correspondent who will bring his considerable experience in environment and transport issues to this new brief, bringing insight, expertise and context to our coverage of rural affairs.”
Heap’s appointment follows a similar move by BBC Wales in 2000, to expand its coverage of rural affairs.
Then, Nia Thomas, a journalist in news and current affairs at BBC Wales for six years, was chosen as BBC Wales’ first rural affairs correspondent. Thomas’ brief was to report on agriculture in both Welsh and English for television, radio and online.
By Wale Azeez