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AXE ON HEATHROW EXPANSION UNDERLINES CASE FOR SCOTTISH HIGH SPEED RAIL
[ 17-05-2010 ]
The new coalition Government’s decision to scrap plans for a third runway at Heathrow means that there is now no alternative to including Scotland in the UK’s future High Speed Rail (HSR) network at the very outset. That was the message from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce this week as the dust began to settle on the General Election aftermath. Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Businesses across Scotland had repeatedly warned David Cameron and his team that a refusal to back expansion at Heathrow Airport could damage not just its value as the UK’s only hub airport, but also the availability of services between London and airports here in Scotland. We have already seen reductions in services to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen from Heathrow whilst Inverness has lost its connection entirely. Airport expansion, with guaranteed slots for Scottish services was essential if we are to improve air links to London.
“The Government’s Heathrow decision therefore adds further weight to our calls for Scotland to be included from the outset in plans to develop the UK’s High Speed Rail network. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have long expressed their enthusiasm for HSR and it is now time for delivery. If Scotland’s air links to London are to be left to wither on the vine, then Government must turn its attention urgently towards delivering HSR and including Scotland from the very outset.
“Scottish Chambers of Commerce have already raised this issue with the new Scottish Secretary, Danny Alexander, and we are also pursuing it with the new UK Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, and the Scottish Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson. HSR is a national project and Governments north and south of the border must take ownership of it. Scotland cannot afford to be left behind, particularly as the full economic benefits of High Speed Rail will only be realised if we are an integral part of the network.
“With a new Government in place, it is time for a new approach to High Speed Rail. Let’s get Scotland connected from the very beginning.”
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