7:30am Thursday 12th January 2012
By Andy Carswell
AN ORGANISATION aiming to boost business fortunes in the county says the new HS2 line will have a negative effect on employment in other parts of the country.
Buckinghamshire Business First says the controversial high speed line - given the go-ahead by Transport Secretary Justine Greening yesterday - will lead to greater unemployment levels in areas of the country HS2 will not go to.
They say improvement in broadband and telecommunications would provide a better boost to the British economy than HS2, which will cut through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Business First Stuart Jones said: "The consultation process was as flawed as the business and environmental cases for the project from the outset, with the expectation from most concerned that this was a political inevitability following the abandonment of the much discussed third runway at Heathrow.
"Our political masters always seemed wedded to the medium-term needs of large employers in the construction and transport sectors who needed the next project to keep them in work after completion of the Olympic Park and Crossrail. HS2 ticks all of their boxes.
"When can we expect to see some long-term economic vision from Westminster, incorporating ideas that will differentiate us from our global competitors? Matching the current high speed transport capability of other countries in more than ten years’ time is a hugely expensive ‘me-too’ response that will certainly have been eclipsed by those countries within that time period. For significantly less budget, and in a fraction of the time, the country could equip itself with ultra-high-speed broadband to all homes and businesses, which would bring jobs, support the knowledge economy, give rise to new business sectors and reduce carbon emissions.
"HS2 could cause the relocation of employment from parts of the UK that can ill afford those job losses, including Wales, the West Country and East Anglia. Iit will bring short-term construction jobs along the proposed route but will displace many more jobs and businesses through the disruption that it will cause. The project brings no guarantee of new employment in the long-term.
"Now more than ever Britain’s economy needs a new paradigm, new thinking and new leadership. HS2 meets none of these criteria; we need a high-speed, high-technology economy and bits and bytes don’t travel by rail. Those opposed to the project see viable alternatives that are obviously not clear to an increasingly myopic establishment whose interests appear to be vested in other areas.
"Opposition to HS2 will be maintained with the aspiration that good sense will prevail before the first sod is cut."
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