North East vital to keeping UK plc on the right track

THE president of the region’s leading business group today urged the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers, to recognise the important role the North East will play in helping the UK meet its growth targets.

 Speaking at a High Speed Rail stakeholder event in the region, Martyn Pellew, president of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “A strong economy in the North East is clearly essential to the UK meeting its objectives of better balanced growth. Our unparalleled record on international trade means this region will be essential to growing Britain’s export strength. And our growing expertise in low carbon technology makes the North East a critical player in developing green growth and green jobs.”

 Mr Pellew reiterated the importance of early connectivity to the High Speed Rail network to the future success of the region’s economy, saying: “For the North East, the potential benefits of high speed rail are incredibly exciting. A connection to the North East is forecast to create a £3.1bn productivity benefit, through helping connect our businesses to key markets, attract inward investment and generate increased visits to this region’s stunning tourist attractions.”

 And, Mr Pellew said it was important that the Government’s plans to introduce High Speed Rail was not derailed or delayed by local planning issues: “From the perspective of North East businesses, we would urge you and your colleagues, Minister, to remain focused on the strategic benefits this could bring throughout the UK as you seek to address the very local planning concerns this will doubtless create.”

 Questions were raised about the way in which the North East would be linked into High Speed Rail. Mr Pellew said: “We need to understand how services will connect the North East into a new high speed line from the earliest possible opportunity; when the line will be developed past Leeds to this region and beyond; and how investment will continue in the conventional lines that serve this region to make sure we continue to enjoy good rail connections in the years before a high speed line is completed.”

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