Sunak condemned HS2 as “the result of the old consensus”.
He said that in the years since it was initially conceived, with spiralling costs and changes in travel patterns, “the facts have changed – and the right thing to do when the facts change is to change direction”.
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce – ‘Fed up of broken promises’
Commenting on the news that the Northern leg of HS2 is to be cancelled by the government, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Policy, Chris Fletcher, said: “After much speculation Government has at last shown its hand by announcing the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2 and the money to be re-invested into yet another new scheme, ‘Network North’.
“Whilst this may sound like a better use of the money with new lines promised and road schemes included too the simple fact is that irrespective of what it is called we are still no nearer getting the transport network that we actually needed years ago to unlock the north’s potential. We have been promised a lot before and nothing has been done and this latest attempt from government will be treated with cynicism and scepticism by a lot of people.
“HS2 was a major investment opportunity for the UK that would unburden a worn-out network already at over capacity; boost the country’s net zero ambitions and open up labour markets and job opportunities on a scale like never before. Plus it was also a cornerstone of Northern Powerhouse Rail. Network North has to deliver all this and more and in a shorter timescale if this government is to have any credibility and successive government’s performance on this over the last decade has not been great.
“If the scale of what the PM announced is to be realised then there will have to be a huge investment in upskilling and training an army of workers for the challenge ahead. At present there are gaps and shortages in critical construction and engineering jobs, something HS2 has been good at resolving through apprenticeships and that will have to be stepped up unless we are to face yet more hold ups and delays in construction.
“This still has the feeling of a political concept rather than a practical solution. I would like to see the technical and engineering data and reports that this decision for HS2 was based on and, how they have identified what the new programme of infrastructure will deliver. My guess is that this is still a back of a beer mat plan and reality will be very different.
“Put bluntly we are fed up of broken promises, delays, cuts and hopes about finally getting what we need being dashed for political expediency. We will be watching closely and waiting on further details of what will be delivered and, more importantly, when.”
Lord McLoughlin, Chair of Transport for the North – ‘Quite a few areas that require further clarification’
“The cancelling of the northern leg of HS2 is naturally disappointing. It’s undeniable that this will be seen by many as a missed opportunity for the region, and the country as a whole. Only last week, northern business and political leaders came together at our TfN Board to speak with ‘one voice’ to reaffirm our position that HS2 and NPR in full are vital to truly transform the North.
“The announcement of investment in the region is obviously welcome. And we will look to work with government to fully understand the implications for the North of the proposals set out today in the Prime Minister’s speech, and consult with our Board on the best way forward in light of this new change of policy. There are still quite a few areas that require further clarification from the Department for Transport, which we will be seeking from them.”
Alex Green, Head of Let’s Go Zero – ‘What we need from the government is leadership’
“It’s laughable to focus on changing the A-Level system. Young people’s priority is the quality of their futures in an uncertain and dangerous world – the effect of climate change on their future food supplies, jobs, homes, cost of living, and security. When students are asking their teachers ‘what’s the point of us getting good exam results if we have no future?’ – we’re in a desperate situation.
“What we need from government is leadership on net zero policies that will make a long-term impact to all young people, but all we’ve seen to date is net zero policy U-turns that will give them little hope. While the government faffs around making changes to A-Levels, our children will continue to be educated in crumbling, carbon-emitting buildings that are wholly unfit for our changing climate.”
Let’s Go Zero enables schools to take action to become zero carbon by 2030, demonstrating a commitment to climate action that will ripple through society. There are more than 2,400 schools now signed up to the campaign.
Sir Robert McAlpine CEO Paul Hamer – ‘Robust Delivery Plans’
“disappointing that the economic and political climate has deterred this ambitious project to improve and rebalance the overall economic health of the country from inception to completion”.
Regarding the promised alternatives, Hamer said they “must now be accompanied by robust delivery plans to ensure intentions are viable and we are still building towards a better future, rather than taking a step back”.
Ramboll UK managing director Philippa Spence – ‘Ripple effect on jobs and growth’
“Major Capital Projects like HS2 have an incredible economic multiplier effect which enables skills growth and world-leading innovation in technology and construction techniques. When such projects are cut, there is a ripple effect on jobs and growth through many sectors. We haven’t seen the likes of anything as significant as the recent infrastructure rollback the government is leading for a long time, so will the replacement Network North deliver the growth we need?”
Tim Seal, Head of Construction at law firm Ridgemont – ‘Terminating contracts’
“In particular what does the termination clause say about terminating the contract where the Government shelves the project? It may well have been drafted to limit or exclude the contractor from having a right of recourse, which would make it difficult for affected businesses to dispute the termination of their HS2 contracts.”