Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The HS2 rail project won't bring additional investment into Midlands, say pressure group

by Sunil Patel

An anti-HS2 campaign group have dismissed the prediction that High-Speed Rail 2 could create more business opportunities for the Midlands and have suggested the project could drag further economic activity towards London.

With conservative estimates of the cost of HS2 project to be at £50 billion based on 2011 figures, it comes as no surprise to the Campaign Manager of Stop HS2 that business leaders have been queuing up for a 'slice of a taxpayer funded pie'.

Joe Rukin said, “This is a government vanity project with rocketing costs that they (business leaders) will not have to pay for.

It is likely any new development of East Midlands HS2 stations at either Toton or Breaston will be built on greenfield sites.

And this will result in a negative impact on Nottingham and Derby city centres, according to the campaign group.

As a result of this, Leicester could also miss out any potential economic benefit as the city is bypassed in the plans.

Mr Rukin added,”If there is such a great business case for HS2, then why are these business leaders not all lining up to fund it themselves?

Today, business leaders organised by the British Chamber of Commerce from the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the North sent a letter to Chancellor George Osborne urging him to bring forward the confirmation and then construction of the Eastern leg of HS2.

The proposed leg linking Birmingham with Leeds via the East Midlands and Sheffield and further north through the East Coast Mainline could bring up to £4.1 billion of additional revenue to areas covered by the route, according to KPMG report in 2013.

The business group have argued, the new HS2 eastern route will provide better connectivity and potentially lead to increased productivity.

It will also support the growth of businesses locally and internationally, according to the Head of Information and Representation at East Midlands Chamber.

Chris Hobson said: “HS2 is s a huge opportunity for businesses in the East Midlands. It will bring the capacity that will help underpin the region’s future success, so it must deliver for the whole region.

“However, uncertainty kills confidence. It is imperative that Government confirms the route as soon as possible and that delivery plans are accelerated to maximise the business benefits which come with creating a national rail network that can compete with the best in the world and create the opportunities needed for long-term economic growth.”  

On Monday, the Chancellor visited the engineering firm Garrandale, Derby and he described the Midlands as the 'engine for Britain's growth'.

Mr Osborne confirmed he would back the productivity of the region by committing to improving transport projects including the funding for HS2. 

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