Monday, 13 June 2011

LEP states that HS2 is the right choice now and for future generations

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership Board has acknowledged the vital role that high speed rail would play in developing regional and UK wide economic growth.

At a board meeting on 8 June, LEP members examined the Government’s proposals set out in its consultation document: ‘The High Speed Rail – Investing in Britain’s Future’. All members bar one (Lichfield District Council) agreed to strongly support the proposals, stating that the area needed a fit for purpose infrastructure system. They also agreed that the scheme would significantly improve the LEP area's competitive advantage, moving spend towards the West Midlands and beyond.

Chair of the LEP, Andy Street, said: “It is essential to both our immediate and future generations to make the right choice when we are faced with such an important decision and the HS2 consultation is a positive step forward in this nationally significant project.”

HS2 is forecast to bring substantial economic benefit to the West Midlands in terms of growth in jobs, investment and output. The consultation document estimates that 40,000 new jobs will be created, 8,000 of which will be in the West Midlands.

Consultation on HS2 will run until 29 July 2011 and the LEP board are keen to ensure that every issue raised is considered. The board also noted the fact that Lichfield District Council one of its local authority partners, is opposed to HS2, but acknowledges the views of its LEP partners.

Mr Street said: “We recognise that HS2 may give rise to some challenges locally, but its strategic importance to the West Midlands and other key cities is immense.

“We will press for appropriate mitigation of any environmental and social impacts, but are committed to ensuring that we capture and maximise the economic opportunities and potential of HS2 for the benefit of the whole of the LEP area. We will continue to engage closely with the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd, with these objectives in mind.” Mr Street, said.

HS2 will reduce travel times significantly between UK cities and will transform the country’s economic geography. These reduced travel times will enable businesses to operate more productively, which will attract inward investment and sustainable growth into the region.

In Europe, cities have established successful high speed services throughout France, Germany, Spain and Italy with global networks operating in Japan and China. The Government’s HS2 proposal is comparable to that of Germany’s most successful high speed rail network between Frankfurt and Cologne, covering a distance of 110 miles – the same distance that would be travelled between London and Birmingham.

Mr Street, added: “We are committed to bringing innovation and growth to the region by attracting investment from both UK and global organisations and well as supporting business enterprises in the area.

“In order to remain competitive within an ever-changing global business arena, we need to ensure that we have high speed rail links to growth economies in Scotland, Manchester, Leeds, the South East and Europe.”

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:

"I am confident that HS2 will bring formidable economic benefits to the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP area - with significant job creation, increased productivity and increases in average pay. Not to mention our radically improved links to London and Europe.

"We need to provide a powerful voice of support behind this transformational project - and I urge everyone to respond to the consultation, and show their support for this once in a generation opportunity to create a 21st century transport system."

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