The National Infrastructure Commission has today (15 December) published the final report of its Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. In response to this report Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said:
“The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report presents a short-sighted and deeply flawed set of options which risk undermining any contribution HS2 could make towards levelling up. The government now has a choice, and they must not turn their back on us again. Any option which leads to a significant delay in the renewal of our appallingly neglected infrastructure would leave South Yorkshire and other areas out in the cold, just when we need support more than ever.
“There were arguments for and against HS2 as a whole, but it would be an absolute travesty for it to go ahead while leaving out one of the most deprived regions in the country, which has long had a deeply unfair gap in transport investment compared to other areas.
“The economic analysis underpinning the NIC report is based on flawed assumptions which bias investment towards the wealthiest parts of the country – flaws which the government recognised in its recent reform of the Green Book. That calls its findings into question. We offered to work with the NIC to make sure the report fairly reflected the needs of South Yorkshire and the North. As it is, their findings are based on a top down economic model that gives too little weight to HS2’s core justification as a way to reduce the profound inequalities between the regions of the UK.
“My priority for South Yorkshire is first and foremost to fix our unacceptably decrepit local transport infrastructure and strengthen connections within the North. But the cancellation or delay of HS2 2b East would have serious knock-on effects which would undermine Northern Powerhouse Rail, especially the Sheffield to Leeds leg that matters so much to South Yorkshire.
“Any plan should start with a guarantee those local projects can be built in full and without delay. The report presents them as competing with HS2 for investment – rather than recognising them as the other side of the same coin, with both essential to deliver the Government’s levelling up agenda.
“The government’s commitment to levelling up is already deeply in question following the recent Spending Review. An HS2 network which bypasses South Yorkshire would be a kick in the teeth: once again, the interests of our region would be put last by Westminster.
“The government has a choice to make. We need them to look to the long term, and give South Yorkshire the levelling up of our transport which they have promised and which our people deserve.”