Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. AIMS OF THE REPORT

  This report looks at the wider implications for regional development in the UK of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). Whilst the Government is supportive of an early introduction of regional services on economic development and regeneration grounds, there has been no systematic attempt to review the regional development case for these services.

  The setting up of the new Regional Development Agencies for England, together with the new national strategies for transport and sustainable development have created a window of opportunity for looking at the broader policy context of the CTRL regional services.

  The report grasps the opportunity for a fresh perspective on the CTRL from the standpoint of sustainable regional development.

2. EVALUATION FRAMEWORK

  The impacts on the regions of the CTRL are evaluated and the results presented in a format that relates to an analysis of sustainable development in the UK with specific reference to:

    —  economic competitiveness;

    —  social cohesion;

    —  environmental sustainability.

  A survey of available data and a review of the case for the complete CTRL was undertaken, with easier connections to the regions at the heart of the argument.

  New data and evidence was also collected from around the country and brought together within this study.

  The links between current UK Government and EU policies are made in relation to regional development strategies, the CTRL and high speed rail links to continental Europe.

3. FINDINGS

  CTRL regional services offer a unique "win-win" opportunity to achieve improvements in all three areas of sustainable regional development at once—neither road nor air transport are able to offer this three-way benefit.

  Our nationwide survey of expert opinion and review of regional strategies indicate that the regions north of London will benefit in terms of:

  Economic Competitiveness—improved accessibility to EU markets and suppliers, efficiency gains in supply chains and logistics, better prospects for inward investment and tourism, and more broadly, opportunities for regional economic adjustment and dynamism.

  Social Cohesion—enhanced prospects for regional convergence in living standards, less labour market exclusion and a better quality of life as citizens of the 21st century Europe.

  Environmental Sustainability—a new enabling infrastructure for national and regional integrated transport strategies that can help to reduce road congestion pollution and health and safety throughout the UK.

  Importantly, CTRL regional services will bring long-term benefits to London and the South East as well as to the UK regions north of London.

4. IMPLICATIONS

  The UK regions are entering the most competitive era of their economic development. As we argue in this report, most regions are simply not competitive by European standards, such that the opportunity costs of the CTRL are extremely high. Not only is the UK's social cohesion at risk, but also the country's aspirations to environmental sustainability are at issue.

  The opportunity costs of unequal regional access to the pan-European High Speed Rail Network also include enormous political risks. The Government's policies of:

    —  establishing Regional Development Agencies and the role of transport infrastructure in regional development strategies;

    —  committing the UK to constructing a sustainable future in activities around economic development and regeneration, the environment and social cohesion;

    —  investing in an integrated transport policy;

will carry little weight with regional and local private-public sector partnerships, if the CTRL opportunity is seen to give London and the South East a major head-start, rather than providing a badly needed kick-start to the regions north of London.



 
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Prepared 26 January 1999