CPN collects reactions on the decision by the Conservative government to go ahead with the controversial HS2 transport project. This post may be expanded as more reactions come in.
Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE)
Commenting on the decision to go ahead with HS2, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), which represents the companies large and small who design, deliver and operate our national infrastructure, Hannah Vickers said: “While HS2 provides plenty of lessons in how we plan, execute and communicate major infrastructure projects in the UK, today all in the industry will be delighted to have seen common sense finally prevail.
“This is great news for people across the Midlands and the North who will benefit from an economic boost by being better connected. Thanks to capacity being opened up across the network projects like Midlands Rail and Northern Powerhouse Rail can become a reality. Finally, quicker links will encourage people off cars and planes, vital if society is to meet its Net Zero targets.”
“There has been enough discussion and delay. HS2 was first announced nearly a decade ago. We need to stop talking and get on with building the future.”
Wildlife Trusts call for a redesign
Today the Government gave the green light to the High Speed 2 rail project, without acknowledging the devastating impact on the hundreds of precious wild places and the wildlife that depends on them – that lie in the path of the route. The Wildlife Trusts recently published a report evidencing the vast scale of the destruction and impact that HS2 will cause to nature. ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ assessed the broad range of impacts across all phases of HS2 on protected wildlife sites, species and landscape restoration projects.
Nikki Williams, The Wildlife Trusts’ director of campaigns and policy, says: “Nature is paying too high a price for HS2. We urged the Government to re-consider in the light of The Wildlife Trusts’ report which evidenced the serious risk that HS2 poses to nature – and to take notice of over 66,000 people who wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to review HS2. Today’s announcement means that it is more critical than ever that the whole project is redesigned – before HS2 creates a scar that can never heal.
“It is vital that HS2 does not devastate or destroy irreplaceable meadows, ancient woodlands and internationally important wetlands that are home to a huge range of wildlife, from barn owls to butterflies. Green and sustainable transport is vital, but the climate emergency will not be solved by making the nature crisis worse.
“As HS2 contractors get on with bulldozing and building, the public can help wildlife by being alert to works near them. Contact your local Wildlife Crime officer if you believe HS2 Ltd or contractors are undertaking works without permission. Wildlife Trusts along the route will continue to advise and engage with HS2 Ltd locally.”
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Responding to the news that government will back HS2, Chris Fletcher, Greater Manchester Chamber’s Policy, Campaigns and Communications Director, said: “Today’s announcement by government on HS2 is a definitive, positive step forward with this crucial project delivering the next stage and transformation of the UK rail network. The Chamber has been a long-time supporter of HS2 and this is vindication that this is the right scheme to help promote future growth and unblock huge swathes of the rail network.
“Reports beforehand did cause some concern with the talk about a review being held into the northern phase however it does seem that this will, with minimal disruption to timings, and backed by the National Infrastructure Commission help tackle costs and also make sure that the best integration with local networks takes place. This is how the project will help deliver those genuine local benefits across a far greater area.
“The repackaging of the scheme into High Speed North, the appointment of a Minister and proposed changes to key management all point to a substantial step change by government. We shall of course continue to campaign and work towards the full delivery of the UK’s high speed rail network and today’s announcement gives us renewed confidence.
“Further announcements will be made in the March budget and we await with interest to see what these are including hopefully a long overdue decision on the Castlefield Corridor in Manchester which is necessary as an immediate rail network improvement without which train services will continue to be affected across the north and beyond.
“Other announcements made as part of the government’s transport revolution are also welcome and the investment in cycling and buses are especially relevant here in Greater Manchester with ambitious plans already in place.”
Mineral Products Association
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement confirming HS2 will go ahead. Having recently called on Government to make a firm decision, and “get HS2 done”, MPA is pleased that our members, who have already made significant investments in the necessary capacity, can focus with confidence on supplying the vast tonnages of concrete, aggregates and other mineral products needed.
Chief Executive of the MPA, Nigel Jackson, said: “We have been calling for this decision for some time, so it is very welcome news. Credit where it is due, Government has now made its decision. MPA members are ready to supply materials for constructing HS2 and all other infrastructure.
The new Government’s commitment to infrastructure is welcome news and we hope to see a sustained focus on delivering projects in the pipeline.”
Construction Industry Training Board
Research analysis found that phases one and two of the project will generate substantial job opportunities in construction, says CITB. Skills in particular demand will be construction trade supervisors, plant operatives, steel erectors, labourers, civil engineers, civil engineering operatives and construction project managers.
CITB Policy Director, Steve Radley, said: “Today’s decision will increase the demand for a range of skills in construction but the certainty will give the industry the confidence to invest in apprenticeships and upskilling its workforce. And the opportunity to work a game-changing project will help construction to attract the next generation of workers.”
Mark Watters, founder and Managing Director of Shareplant, said: “The viability of major projects like High Speed 2 hinges on our sector’s ability to catch up and make the same gains in efficiency other industries have enjoyed by embracing digital technology. Our industry should be hungry for every opportunity to make savings and deliver more cost-effective, leaner schemes. If we can deliver these kinds of ambitious projects on time and on budget, it makes a difference not just for us but for the whole of the UK that will benefit from the new infrastructure.”