Train
Image Source: Tejvan Pettinger
The Prime Minister has today announced that he has approved the HS2 rail line running across the country - here are reactions from the business community.
Chloe Shakesby

HS2 announcement: businesses have their say

The Prime Minister has today announced that he has approved the HS2 rail line running across the country.

The decision comes amid controversy about the economic and environmental effects of the project, with some hailing the HS2 as beneficial and others condemning it.

Among those who support the decision are the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Responding to the announcement that HS2 will go ahead, national chairman of the FSB - based in the North East- Mike Cherry, said: “It is very welcome that at long last a clear decision has been made to proceed with HS2.

“The time for debate is over – let’s get the shovels out and put some high speed into the process of building it.

“This is a crucial infrastructure project which will bring economic benefits both during its construction, and in the capacity and productivity improvements it will create once it’s operational.

“It will allow for a greater number of both passenger and freight services, take lorries off congested roads, and help to improve connectivity across the Midlands and north of England.

“It is important that as tenders are drawn up for construction contracts that as many as possible are broken down to make them manageable for small businesses to bid for.

“This will increase competition, drive down costs, and protect taxpayers from the risk of putting too many eggs in one or two multi-national baskets.”

The Association for Project Management (APM) responded to today’s announcement: “We support the need for a credible long-term programme of major projects of all types and recognise that stability arises from clear goals and plans to achieve them, a firm funding commitment, and a genuine commitment to these projects with the broadest stakeholder support possible.

“As the chartered body for the project profession it is our mission to support the better delivery of projects whatever their size.

“While we recognise that many major projects can be controversial, it is important to ensure that there is consensus around a programme of sustained, long-term major projects accompanied by adequate investment to ensure that economic and societal benefits are fully realised.”

Some organisations, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants expressed mixed views on the decisions.

Alex Metcalfe, head of public sector policy at the organisation, commented: “We support the government’s commitment to increased infrastructure investment in the UK – though these new investments must adhere to the new fiscal rules set out in the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

“Originally priced at £33bn, HS2 could now cost UK taxpayers over £100bn. This overrun will require tradeoffs against other national infrastructure priorities – such as a national standard of flood resilience or the roll-out of full-fibre broadband.

“Therefore, it is vital that the government’s infrastructure strategy takes account of the wider needs of the country, as set out by the National Infrastructure Commission.”

However, some institutions, such as Greenpeace, oppose the decision.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “Boris Johnson’s decision to green light HS2 will give him the dubious honour of being this century’s largest destroyer of irreplaceable ancient woodlands in the UK.”

He added: “Over 100 ancient woodlands will be damaged or destroyed along with 33 sites of special scientific interests and hundreds of local wildlife sites.”

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