Reactions: HS2 review announcement sparks debate across UK
Today (August 21) the government announced it will be carrying out a full independent review of the HS2 rail project.
The review will examine how the infrastructure project to connect London, the Midlands and Northern England should proceed, with the possibility that the project could even be scrapped.
Bdaily caught up with a range of businesses, organisations and individuals to get their view on the announcement and what it could mean for their respective regions.
Iain Thomson, head of communications & IR at Harworth Group
“Whilst extra government attention on directing the efficacy of HS2 is welcomed, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that extra rail capacity is urgently required in the UK to support growth and to take pressure off the road network.
“We hope that the review focuses its efforts on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘whether’, as any kind of pause or cancellation would be a retrograde step.”
Jane Brophy, Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West
“We warned from the start that the Tories’ long-term indecision on HS2 will cost taxpayers heavily and fail Northerners.
“The Liberal Democrats have always been in favour of HS2 but we have been absolutely clear that construction should have started in the North.
“That way, when the project inevitably encountered the issues it has, the areas most in need of infrastructure upgrades would have received them first.
“However, as things stand, rail links in London and the South will still be upgraded, whilst Northern links are left in their dire 1970s state – as usual.”
Roger Marsh OBE, chair of the NP11 Board and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership
“The additional capacity and faster journey times offered by HS2, integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail and the existing network, are fundamental to the North’s ambitions to deliver extraordinary inclusive growth that will benefit all in society.
“This review is an opportunity to underline the importance of HS2 to rebalancing and strengthening the UK economy and to work with Government to identify ways the project can deliver even more for the North of England.”
Manchester Airport Group
“The High Speed 2 line to Manchester will be a vital part of rebalancing the UK economy and creating better transport links to, from and across the North.
“It is imperative that both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are delivered as quickly as possible and connected by a hub station at Manchester Airport to realise the full economic potential of both schemes.
“Connecting the country more effectively, both North-South and East-West, would drive economic growth across the UK, and do the most to rebalance our economy.
“MAG would like see work on the northern leg of HS2 accelerated – and delivered in tandem with Northern Powerhouse Rail - to allow the benefits of better connectivity in the North to be felt much sooner.”
Cllr Kim Groves, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee
“I am deeply disappointed that the Government is putting a question mark against the future of HS2 in the context of an ongoing gulf in transport investment between the North and London.
“HS2 is fundamental to rebalancing the economy and addressing the poor connections between cities in the North and Midlands which act as a significant brake on our economies.
“Given HS2’s potential to deliver 40,000 jobs directly, and a further 50,000 through productivity and regeneration benefits, to the Leeds City Region, we will be delivering a clear message that this project must be delivered in full.
“It is essential the review concludes quickly and removes the damaging uncertainty around this project which is central to our plans for future growth which benefits all our communities.”
Claire Reading, Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) development manager for South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and the Humber
“For the good of UK small firms and the economy as a whole, it’s vital that the HS2 project remains on track. The stop-start approach to major transport investment that’s held our economy back for decades has to end.
“Of course HS2 needs to represent value for money, and that starts with responsible procurement – bringing smaller firms into the supply chain wherever possible and paying them on time.
“HS2 should be seized by this government as an opportunity to back the small businesses that it so often claims to support, opening doors for them and setting the tone for future infrastructure projects. It would do well to remember that small firms bring a dynamism to supply chains that big corporates struggle to match.
“Wider job creation, inward investment and transport projects across the north of England and Midlands hinge on HS2’s completion. This project is not simply a ‘nice to have’. Done right, it will lay the foundations for a truly balanced UK economy.”
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