William Eichler 23 February 2017

HS2 to be given ‘green light’

HS2 is to be given the go-ahead today in a move supporters hope will deliver an additional £14bn to the UK economy.

The HS2 hybrid Bill will become an Act of Parliament which means work will start on the the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham.

The news has been welcomed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) whose chair, Cllr Bob Sleigh, said it would ‘transform places, create jobs and attract investment.’

The rail link, which is Britain’s biggest infrastructure project in decades, will be a catalyst for economic growth possibly bringing in an additional £14bn to the economy (GVA).

As part of the Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy, adopted by the WMCA, it will also create an estimated 104,000 jobs and 2,000 apprenticeships.

Birmingham city centre should also ‘reap significant’ economic benefits from the new rail link. Under the £1bn Curzon Investment Plan, the area around the HS2 terminal will be regenerated.

‘This is the news that the West Midlands has been waiting for,’ said Cllr Sleigh.

‘HS2 is going to happen and we’re ready to capitalise fully on the opportunities it offers to transform places, create jobs and attract investment.

‘Royal Assent is important because it makes HS2 an absolute reality and means the West Midlands can now fully deliver its HS2 ambitions.

‘Those ambitions have a clear focus on jobs, apprenticeships, major investment at the two station sites in Solihull and Birmingham and millions of pounds of contract opportunities for West Midlands SMEs.’

‘My message to the people of the West Midlands and beyond who are wondering what HS2 will give them, is that this is so much more than a fast train,’ he continued.

‘The arrival of HS2 will allow us to create a legacy and will help secure your future, your children’s future and probably your grandchildren’s future too.’

The chair of Midlands Connect, a collaboration between nine local enterprise partnerships, Network Rail, Highways England, 23 local authorities and the business community, also welcomed the news HS2 was to be given Royal Assent.

Sir John Peace said: ‘HS2 Royal Assent marks a momentous day, both for the Midlands and the UK.

‘It's proof that the Government is serious about rebalancing the country’s economy by investing in the regions. 

‘We have already seen investment, growth and other signs of economic optimism arising from just the prospect of HS2 and record numbers of businesses and investors are interested in the region, in part due to the transformational nature of HS2.

‘The Midlands is now at the heart of the UK’s most ambitious infrastructure project.’

‘Today’s announcement provides us with the opportunity to accelerate our plans for growth in the region and it provides investors with the certainty they need to make the investment decisions we need,’ he added.

Image: Paul J Martin / Shutterstock.com

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