BCC and Chambers write to PM on importance of delivering HS2

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to you today as the British Chambers of Commerce, and as local Chambers, to reiterate the importance of delivering all phases of HS2.

Businesses across the UK know that in addition to providing new, dedicated track for express inter-city services, HS2 will release capacity for new passenger and freight services on the existing network, unlock other infrastructure projects, drive the regeneration of cities, open up new areas for business growth and create significant numbers of new supply-chain opportunities. No alternative scheme has been proposed that will come close to achieving the transformational effects of HS2, touching business communities across the country.

The benefits of HS2 will only be possible through delivery of the fullgeographical footprint. These include:

  • Released capacity on existing networks for passenger services and rail freight, both of which are desperately needed, would reduce congestion and pollution on our roads, and enhance the growth potential of our northern ports and their wider regional economies;
  • Local economic development frameworks and city masterplans that integrate and exploit the potential of HS2 such as in the West Midlands, East Midlands and in the North;
  • The effects on productivity of better connecting places to each other and people to jobs;
  • Other major schemes, including Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Engine Rail, both of which rely upon the delivery of HS2 for the full realisation of their business cases.

Since government and parliament backed the project, we have celebrated as spades finally went into the ground, with work around Curzon Street Station in Birmingham city centre as some of the most visible and tangible evidence that, finally, Britain was ready to build the infrastructure that would transform the capacity of the network and with it, the labour markets of our key cities.

With HS2 moving ahead, so too did ambitions to boost connectivity across the North of England and the Midlands – with big plans for new east-west connections across the North as well as plans to boost services forboth passengers and freight on the railway lines that would be freed up when HS2 opens. The benefits go far wider than just the HS2 route itself, as the liberation of existing lines would mean transformed connectivity for towns, too.

Of course, there can be no blank cheque, either for HS2 or for any other publicly funded infrastructure project.We have made this clear though our constructive engagement with the Oakervee Review and with your government in recent weeks. The investment case is strong, and failure to follow through on this hugely important project would send a hugely negative signal to the investors, both domestic and global, who are already putting huge sums of money into sites near the planned HS2 route.

Walking away from the project- or from any one of its component parts- would not just rip the heart out of the growth plans of many cities and towns but hurt the UK’s reputation as a place to invest at precisely the time when it is needed the most. It would undermine your governments claim to drive an ‘infrastructure revolution’ and severely damage business confidence in the Midlands, North and beyond.

For all these reasons and many more we look forward to a renewed commitment from government to this project.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

Daniel Fell, Chief Executive, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce

Paul Colman, Chief Executive, South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Kath Boullen, Chief Executive, St Helens Chamber

Paul Cherpeau, Chief Executive, Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber of Commerce (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire)

Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce

Sara Williams, Chief Executive, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

Sandy Needham, Chief Executive, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Martin Hathaway, Chief Executive, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce

Corin Crane, Chief Executive, Black Country Chamber of Commerce

James Ramsbotham CBE, Chief Executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce

Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Richard Wright, Director – Policy & Representation, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Clive Memmott, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

Miranda Barker, Chief Executive, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

Peter Bishop, Interim Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive, North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

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