Business leaders in the Midlands have urged the Government to “cut the dithering and start delivering” on HS2.
A series of recent reports have revealed the project costs could spiral to around £106billion for the controversial high speed rail project, which will cut through parts of Lichfield and surrounding villages.
The latest publication linked to HS2 from the National Audit Office (NAO) says the risks of the project were not fully considered during the planning of the line.
But Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said the region needed to see progress on “the most important infrastructure project in a generation”:
“We welcome the release of the NAO report as once again all focus is on HS2 and that gives us the chance to re-state the case for this game-changing programme.
“Those against the project will no doubt point to the headline figures listed in relation to spiralling costs, but to be honest, these are nothing new. Even a cursory glance at the stocktake report produced by Allan Cook, chair of HS2, reveals similar figures and timeframes.
“A few things stood out within the report – firstly, it makes it clear that construction must start in March 2020, to avoid further delays on the opening of Phase One and that any additional postponements will drive up costs.
“I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on the government that sitting on the Oakervee Review for three months has created uncertainty and knocked investor confidence, an unnecessary by-product of the lackadaisical approach favoured thus far by this administration despite the huge amount riding on the project.
“Ultimately, both this report and the leaked findings of the Oakervee Review point in the same direction, HS2 needs to happen if we are to unlock the latent prosperity that lies in our great region and beyond.
“Let’s not forget that the only people who will lose out if HS2 doesn’t go ahead are the millions that voted for this Government to make good on their promise to deliver real change and level up the disparities between the regions and so our message to the Prime Minister is clear – cut the dithering and start delivering.”Paul Faulkner, Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
“A national embarrassment”
But campaigners said the latest report further reinforced the fact HS2 has become “a national embarrassment”.
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said:
“It now is clear we have all lied to for years over the costs, timescales and benefits of this environmentally damaging project.
“We would say the scandal that is HS2 couldn’t get any worse than this, but we know it will. This national embarrassment has to be cancelled immediately, and surely the only question now is deciding which are the projects that will be built instead of this terminal white elephant.”Joe Rukin, Stop HS2