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Infrastructure Show: High Speed 2 must not succumb to threats, says shadow minister

High Speed Two (HS2) must not be derailed by localism, Conservative opposition or indecision about the route, shadow transport minister John Woodcock said yesterday at NCE’s Infrastructure Show.

The government must maintain a careful balance between local input and national strategy if HS2 is to gain planning permission, Woodcock said. On localism, he said the government “plays a dangerous game when it talks up the need for major infrastructure projects but then potentially weakens its ability to deliver them”. Costly delays caused by the planning process could threaten the economic case for building HS2, he said.

Woodcock also warned that opposition to HS2 from the Tory back bench could influence new transport secretary Justine Greening, who has previously been a vocal opponent of Heathrow expansion and some work sites for the Thames Tunnel mega-sewer, on behalf of her constituency. “It is really important that the new transport secretary holds firm,” Woodcock said.

Woodcock also said a lack of clarity about the HS2 route beyond Birmingham is “unhelpful” and undermines support for the project. The government should develop ” a single, coherent high speed line that goes straight to the North” to strengthen the business case for the project, he said.

Roads challenge

Woodcock also spoke at the Infrastructure Show on road maintenance issues.

He said he had seen examples of “better procurement” of road works by local government that he would like to see replicated on a larger scale.

Woodcock said this could include economies of scale from councils working together, as well as increased use of private sector expertise and private funding for road maintenance.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I agree that HS2 should not succumb to threats - it should succumb to the lack of a viable business case, to the fact that there are many requirements of greater priority in a debt ridden nation and to the fact that it will most probably cost around three times the current estimate (based on experience eg HS1, Channel tunnel, Thames barrier etc). I remain convinced thgat the whole issue is part of a strategy to get us embroiled in fantasy and take attention away from the mess that politicians continually create. To get back "on track" the message has to be STOP THE WASTE. Please give us leaders before it is too late.
    Jim Barrack

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