Radio and television presenter Evan Davis chaired an ICE West Midlands debate on High Speed 2 (HS2) recently, as part of its Great Debate series.
The annual event, hosted by ICE West Midlands and other built environment bodies, was one of the best attended so far. This year the aim was to facilitate intelligent, balanced debate on the pros and cons of the HS2 project.
Panellists were drawn from a range of organisations including Campaign to Protect Rural England, anti-HS2 local authorities group 51m, Action Groups Against High Speed Two and Birmingham City Council.
The panel also featured record producer and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman, who claimed the project - which will connect Birmingham to London, Manchester, Leeds and beyond - would be “built by young people, building their future”, and that no other project in Europe would create as many jobs.
The debate was held at Birmingham City University and began with Davis conducting an audience poll, in which an overwhelming majority backed the project.
Panellists then made their case for and against the project, leading to discussion about costs, environmental impact and the line’s potential to increase capacity, economic growth and employment opportunities.
The closing poll at the end of the debate produced an overwhelming “yes” in favour of the project, despite strong arguments from the opposition.
Addressing the audience after the panellists had spoken, HS2 stakeholder manager Donovan Bailey concluded that HS2 would be “integrated into Birmingham’s fabric and would maximise economic benefits to the region”.
Other host organisations included the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Landscape Institute, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute. The event was also supported by the Railway Civil Engineers Association.