Suffolk/Essex: Business chiefs react to figures showing how region could lose out if HS2 is built

An artist's impression of an HS2 train.

An artist's impression of an HS2 train. - Credit: Archant

Business chiefs voiced dismay last night after new figures revealed Suffolk’s economy could lose almost £78million a year if the High-Speed Two rail line goes ahead.

Last year the Government hailed HS2 as a major infrastructure development which would boost the national economy by £15billion a year.

But new figures from a Freedom of Information request have revealed how parts of Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex could lose tens of millions of pounds every year in economic output.

John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said HS2 would have a “detrimental” impact on the county.

The Freedom of Information request highlighted the full findings of a business report into the high speed rail route by the audit services company KPMG.

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Mr Dugmore said: “There is no doubt the KPMG report highlights the concerns that we have been stressing for sometime. It was only recently that a major piece of research told us that in the east, a strategic upgrade of the Great Eastern Main Line, costing a fraction of High-Speed Two, could generate £3.7 billion in benefit to the economy.

“Businesses in this county are beginning to get very weary of Government decisions around priority spend on infrastructure. We believe the Government should look to invest in its winners and there has to be a step change in rail infrastructure investment for this region.”

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The KPMG report used data from HS2 Ltd’s assessment of the direct transport impacts of the scheme, which would connect London to Birmingham and to Manchester and Leeds.

The analysis shows how west Suffolk could lose almost £63million a year with the rest of the county down by more than £14.5million a year.

Eastern regional director of the Country Land and Business Association Nicola Currie said it was important the region was not left behind and called for urgent improvement work to the A14.

East Essex could also be affected by HS2 with the area losing out by up to more than £29.5million a year. In the best estimate it was calculated it could benefit by up to more than £8million per year.

But the best case figures for Suffolk still show the county with an annual loss of more than £44million.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “These figures show that the new north south railway is vital to rebalance our economy and it boosts the north overall more than the south. Of course the line does not serve every city and region and these figures reflect that.

“But it is wrong to take them in isolation. HS2 is part of a much bigger boost to our transport system - £73bn in the next parliament, of which HS2 is just £17bn. This will massively benefit places HS2 will not serve long before the line opens.”

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