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Kent’s economy could lose up to £159m a year if the government’s HS2 high speed rail plans get the go-ahead, according to campaigners.
A report by accounting firm KPMG says the county could suffer as businesses choose to invest nearer the new £50bn line between London, Birmingham and Crewe.
Groups opposed to the plans say the county will suffer greater adverse effects if the government follows through with plans announced this week to scrap the link between HS1 at St Pancras and the proposed HS2 terminus at Euston.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the Commons on Monday that the link “requires too many compromises” and it will be removed from the HS2 legislation.
The decision means there will be no direct high speed rail services between Europe, Kent, London, Birmingham and the North West of England.
The 92-page report by KPMG on HS2’s economic impact, released last year, shows Kent will be one of 50 areas of the UK to lose out if the high speed line is built.
However, the report says the line could boost the UK economy by £15bn.
Anti-HS2 campaign group HS2 Action Alliance believe Britain will have a two-tier economy if HS2 is built, with areas close to the line gaining and many other areas losing out.
The group also says last week’s re-launch of the project in Manchester by HS2 chairman David Higgins offered no benefits to Kent.
Local campaigns director Peter Chegwyn said: “KPMG admitted its report clearly shows the benefits of HS2 for some regions and the negative impacts it might have on others.
“HS2 is very bad news for Kent as jobs could be lost if firms choose to relocate nearer to the new HS2 rail line.
“Just as Kent gained from business investment when the HS1 rail line was built, so too the KPMG research shows that Kent will suffer if HS2 is built.
“Kent has nothing to gain but everything to lose from HS2, including local jobs and economic output.”
“Kent has nothing to gain but everything to lose from HS2, including local jobs and economic output” - Peter Chegwyn
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “A new north south railway is vital to meet the capacity crisis that we face on our railways. With services to both London and Europe, Kent already benefits from high speed rail.
"And we have not ruled out linking HS2 and HS1 in the future – the Secretary of State has commissioned a study to consider better connections between the rail network and the continent.
“However, it is not a case of spending on HS2 and nothing else. Kent will not lose out, for example, from 2018 Kent will see huge rail improvements as a result of the £6bn Thameslink programme.”
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