HS2 will drive forward a wider long-term vision for regional growth Region ready to reap HS2 benefits

The route has been decided, the stopping stations and main East Midlands hub location have been chosen and supply chains are being established. All that remains to make HS2 Phase 2B

Eastern Leg a reality is the final commitment from Government. Until that is forthcoming, the regional benefits

of the biggest rail infrastructure project since Victorian times cannot begin to be realised. It has been calculated that HS2 Eastern Leg

will add about £4bn a year to the GVA of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire once passenger services start to roll on the route in 2032. The area immediately surrounding Toton,

between Derby and Nottingham, will see the biggest opportunities for growth as that is where the regional hub will go. Housing, new businesses, new supporting

infrastructure and improved links between the hub and neighbouring cities and, perhaps, East Midlands Airport will make the area extremely attractive to investors. Work on development around Toton, and

realisation of the benefits that will come from it, can begin almost immediately after the Government gives the hub the final sign off. Chesterfield and Staveley, the first as a

stopping station and the second as a maintenance depot for HS2 rolling stock, will also benefit greatly. Both will see jobs creation, new housing and

improved infrastructure. With one HS2 train an hour stopping in the

town, the railway line through Chesterfield, from its two junctions with the new HS2 main line, will have to be electrified. That could lead to improved air quality in the

town as the bi-mode trains proposed for Midland Main Line services will, in theory, be able to turn off their diesel engines while running under HS2 electrification.

32 business network June 2018 But in addition to all the heavy rail and

infrastructure-based aspects of the project, there are huge and varied opportunities for regional businesses to capitalise on the project long before work starts to lay and electrify the track. Those opportunities include things as diverse

as landscaping, tree surgery, wildlife habitat and woodland relocation, telecoms, site offices and compound works, site security, signage, CCTV, traffic surveys and management, ground investigation, drone surveys, labour and staff wellbeing, plant hire, aggregates, ducts and pipework, pest control, specialist photography and much, much more. Some of those specialities are needed now,

others will have to be in place ready to step up to the plate once all the ‘t’s have been crossed and all the ‘i’s dotted. As they say about the National Lottery… you

have to be in to win it, and the Chamber is working hard to make sure local SMEs can be part of the bigger supply chain picture. Along with Strategic Partner Geldards LLP, it

has set up an HS2 Business Advisory Group which will develop asks and activity around how the economic impacts of HS2 can be exploited to greatest advantage and to link opportunities with the wider growth agendas of HS2 in the region. In particular, the group’s work will focus on how to maximise the economic opportunities of the stations at Toton and Chesterfield, ensure local businesses benefit from the construction and delivery of HS2, support skills development activity across the region to align with the opportunities created by HS2 and use HS2 to drive forward a wider long-term vision for growth across the East Midlands. The Chamber is also working with HS2 Ltd,

the company tasked with delivering the multi- billion-pound project, to host seminars at which smaller firms can learn about the many primarily Tier 2 procurement opportunities available and how to take advantage of them.

Chris Hobson, Director of Policy

‘Many businesses are now beginning to recognise the financial benefits of not just supporting the project but also taking advantage of it’

Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at the Chamber, said: “It is essential throughout this process that the private sector in the East Midlands maintains a strong influence on the development, ensuring that the opportunities arising from HS2 are maximised to ensure that a vision for a successful East Midlands economy is driven by an understanding of the long-term business needs and opportunities for the region.”

Although there are still some people who

vehemently and vociferously oppose HS2, many businesses are now beginning to recognise the financial benefits of not just supporting the project but also taking advantage of it. A recent free #FIT4HS2 event, hosted by

Nottingham Trent University and underwritten by the European Regional Development Fund, ‘sold out’ in less than 24 hours. Chris said: “There can be no doubt that HS2

will be transformational for the region and it’s important that local firms know how to identify and grab the opportunities it will offer.

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