Scrapping the northern leg of HS2 should bring transport benefits to Staffordshire, council leaders have said
Confirmation that the Phase 2a leg of the high speed rail project between Birmingham and Manchester would be scrapped came last month.
Senior figures at Staffordshire County Council have said they believe the decision will create opportunities for money due to be spent on HS2 to be used on alternative infrastructure schemes instead, reports Lichfield Live.
Deputy leader Cllr Philip White told a recent cabinet meeting: “It is important to note that the cancellation is a significant development for our county, both in terms of undoing some of the harm that has been caused in the south of the county with the construction activity HS2 has had ongoing for some time, and further north in the county where people have had properties compulsory purchased and have been worried about blight along that route with limited benefit for Staffordshire in terms of the economy and people.
“So it is good news to see a change in direction there, which should benefit Staffordshire more.
“I wanted to reassure colleagues that we are actively lobbying government in terms of further investment in what is a very busy county that carries a lot of the burden of national economic activity, particularly in terms of transport and logistics.
“We have some fantastic investment opportunities the government ought to consider and we are working hard now to highlight those other schemes with government that we think would be of real benefit, both locally and to the country.”
Although the HS2 section north of Fradley has been scrapped following spiralling costs, work to link the Phase 1 line to the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre means construction will continue around Lichfield, said the report.
Cllr Alan White, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Although we have opposed HS2 from the outset, we have put in a lot of effort to minimise the impact on our people and county, and to maximise any economic benefits.
“We understand there must be a cost ceiling for major infrastructure projects, but HS2 has already had a significant, irreversible impact on Staffordshire.
“Completing Phase 1 as planned and delivering the promised shorter journey times for residents are essential. We are watching closely for any indications of further investment in Midlands infrastructure projects, that could benefit people and businesses in Staffordshire.”