Notts leaders seek urgent clarity after HS2 left out of budget

Concerned Nottinghamshire council leaders have urged the Government to make a decision on HS2 after it was again left out of the Chancellor’s spending review.

By Andrew Topping
Monday, 1st November 2021, 10:58 am

Councils were hoping Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s address to the Commons would provide some clarity on the future of HS2’s eastern leg.

HS2 is a planned high-speed railway line between London and the north, with work under way on the first phase, between London and Birmingham, ahead of extensions further north.

Work on Phase 2b of the multi-billion-pound project, to Leeds, which could pass through Nottinghamshire at Toton, was put on hold in the summer ahead of the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan.

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HS2 plans are still up in the air.

This document, the Government says, will outline the future of HS2.

But there was again no mention of the IRP’s contents in Mr Sunak’s address, with the Chancellor and Department for Transport insisting it will be published ‘soon’.

Nottinghamshire Council has spent more than £22.1 million buying land to support HS2’s growth strategy in Toton, but concerns over the IRP’s contents have thrown plans into doubt, with it still unknown whether the Eastern Leg will even arrive in Nottinghamshire at all.

It comes after the Chancellor announced a £5.7 billion package for ‘London-style’ public transport settlements, in which the East Midlands missed out at the expense of other neighbouring regions.

Coun Jason Zadrozny, Ashfield Council leader , said: “The uncertainty over HS2 has hung over Nottinghamshire and the Midlands like an albatross. We have residents and landowners in limbo.

“The reality is the East Midlands has been shafted again by Government.

“The Government has announced major public transport infrastructure projects in every other region but ours.

“This budget was meant to be about levelling up but it has done the opposite – it’s as if the East Midlands doesn’t exist.”

The council is supporting plans to reopen the ‘Maid Marian Line’ between Kirkby and Pye Bridge to passengers, providing a direct rail link from the Robin Hood Line, serving Mansfield and Ashfield, to the planned HS2 station at Toton.

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Coun Ben Bradley, Nottinghamshire Council leader, Mansfield MP and HS2 East campaign co-chairman has written a joint letter, with Coun James Lewis, Leeds Council leader, calling for the Government to act.

They said: “The IRP is now 10 months overdue.

“This continued uncertainty is undermining business confidence and we need clarity now that we will get what we were promised.

“If the Eastern Leg of HS2 is scaled back or cancelled, the region will pay a heavy price.

“We’ll miss out on jobs, investment and opportunity, while the west of the country becomes better-connected, through the high-speed rail network acting as a spur for growth and regeneration.

“Levelling up requires full delivery of HS2 both sides of the Pennines.”

Mr Sunak said the IRP will be published ‘soon’.

He said: “To connect our towns and cities, we’re investing £21 billion on roads and £46bn on railways.

“Our IRP will be published soon, dramatically improving journey times between our towns and cities.”

A DfT spokesman said: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the North and Midlands need and deserve.”

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