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Monday, February 24, 2020

HS2 goes ahead: Nottingham and East Midlands leaders welcome the green light

FIRST PUBLISHED

Leading public and private sector organisations from across the East Midlands, including Nottingham City Council, have welcomed Government’s confirmation that HS2 will go ahead.

The Government’s decision to go ahead follows recommendations from the independent Oakervee Review also published today. However Ministers have also asked that further work is undertaken on the scope of Phase 2b – which includes the Eastern Leg of HS2 through the East Midlands.

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The Eastern Leg of HS2 will run from Birmingham to Leeds via the East Midlands Hub station at Toton, Chesterfield and Sheffield. The Eastern Leg and onward connections will serve a combined area of 15 million people which already contributes over £320bn a year to the UK economy.

Nottingham City Council Leader, Councillor David Mellen, said: “It’s great news that the Government has now committed to developing the whole of the HS2 line, which will bring huge benefits to Nottingham and the wider region. The business case for this leg of HS2 is the strongest of the proposals and so we will be lobbying for it to be constructed first. Certainly it needs be done as soon as possible so that we can start to benefit from the jobs and the great improvements to our infrastructure it will bring.

“It’s not just about improving the route to London. It’s about better connecting cities in the Midlands and North, improving journey times and freeing up capacity on existing track which will enable more freight to travel by rail as well as people. This in turn will relieve pressure on our overcrowded roads and reduce air pollution.”
From an East Midlands perspective the East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy published in 2017[1] sets out plans to use HS2 connectivity to deliver an additional 74,000 jobs and £4bn in GVA across the region.

And now key public and private organisations from across the East Midlands have come together to set out set out compelling vision for how the project should be taken forward in the East Midlands:

– HS2 must not short change the East Midlands with downgraded lines;
– HS2 Phase 2b must be constructed from the West Midlands to the East Midlands first;
– HS2 must be fully integrated with the ‘Midlands Engine Rail’ proposals developed by Midlands Connect;

Midlands Connect plans for HS2 to also directly serve Leicester and Nottingham must be incorporated into the Government’s proposals;

– Investment in the proposed East Midlands Development Corporation and in local connectivity improvements should be prioritised by Government over the next 10 years to prepare the way for HS2 and deliver early benefits for local people.

The East Midlands organisations believe the HS2 plans can be enhanced by:

– Accelerating the delivery of the line between Birmingham and the East Midlands, enabling this part of the route to be operational well in advance of the full Eastern Leg, transforming east-west connectivity across the Midlands.
– Working with Midlands Connect, the transport partner of the Midlands Engine, to integrate HS2 into the ‘Midlands Engine Rail’ proposals[2], including ensuring that HS2 trains can also serve Leicester and Nottingham direct, making use of capacity released by HS2 to improve conventional rail services across the region, and further electrification of the Midland Main Line.

A 10 year plan of investment between now and 2030 that will prepare the way for HS2 and deliver early benefits for local people. Key priorities include the establishment of a ‘Locally Led Urban Development Corporation’ and infrastructure improvements in and around Toton and in Derby and Chesterfield that will help to accelerate new development.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring the UK well and truly into the 21st Century. However, let’s be clear – the benefits that it brings for the East Midlands go way beyond having a new rail line. Already, over 125 local companies are helping to build HS2 and the project has the potential to transform the skills and aspiration levels of young people and the competitiveness of our businesses.”

Elizabeth Fagan CBE, Chair of the D2N2 LEP said:“HS2 is crucial to the long-term success of the D2N2 area (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire), so today’s decision is very welcome. HS2 will continue to act as a catalyst for unlocking significant growth right across our region and support our vision for a more productive, inclusive and carbon-free future for the people of our region.”

Cllr Martin Hill OBE, Chair of East Midlands Councils and Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The East Midlands has been the lowest funded region for transport for far too long. The Prime Minister’s decision to go-ahead with HS2 is very positive, but we must work together to ensure that our region can get the most out of this investment and to secure real improvements for our communities.”

Local Leaders in the East Midlands are calling for a series of assurances during any review of Phase 2 of HS2:

– That the Phase 2b Hybrid Bill will receive Royal Assent in this Parliament to provide certainty to investors, businesses and local communities;
– That the delivery schedule of Phase 2b from the West Midlands to the East Midlands is not delayed further, and does not consider downgraded infrastructure to cut costs;
– Confirmation that Phase 2b will be constructed from the West Midlands to the East Midlands first, so that desperately needed improvements to east-west connectivity can be made as soon as possible;
– That Midlands Connect’s plans for direct high speed services from Nottingham-

Birmingham city centres, and Leicester-Leeds city centres are prioritised by HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport;

– That Chesterfield benefits from improved HS2 connectivity and the early delivery of the planned HS2 Infrastructure Maintenance Depot at Staveley;
– That investment in the East Midlands Development Corporation and in local connectivity improvements around Toton is prioritised by Government over the next 10 years to prepare the way for HS2 and bring early benefits for local people.

Key early investments include a £77m package of infrastructure improvements in Toton, Derby and Chesterfield that comprise a regional bid to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), and the Chesterfield-Staveley Regeneration Route (£79m) which has been submitted to the Department for Transport as a ‘Large Local Major’ project by Midlands Connect on behalf of Derbyshire County Council.

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