Scottish business groups back UK high-speed rail plan

14 December 2011 (Last Updated December 14th, 2011 18:30)

The majority of businessmen in Scotland support proposals to extend the UK high-speed rail project into the country, a new survey has revealed.

The majority of businessmen in Scotland support proposals to extend the UK high-speed rail project into the country, a new survey has revealed.

The survey was carried out by the Scottish Partnership Group for High-Speed Rail, which was formed by the UK Transport Minister Keith Brown, and found that 72.5% of Scottish businesses believe the extension of high-speed rail to Scotland would attract new investment.

The Scottish Partnership Group for High-Speed Rail has published the report detailing the benefits for business, communities and the environment.

Keith Brown said, "The argument for a high-speed rail network in the UK is strong – but it is stronger when Scotland is included. That is the clear message from this report and one that the Scottish Government fully backs."

"The Partnership Group speaks for communities and business across Scotland and it recognises how high-speed rail will stimulate our economy and encourage inward investment," Brown said.

"As it would also reduce the need for domestic flights, the potential for environmental benefits is huge," Brown said.

The report estimates that if the high-speed line is extended north of the border it will bring Scotland economic benefits to the tune of £24.8bn.

It calls for the cancellation of the HS2 company, formed by the UK Department for Transport, to be extended to consider detailed planning for Scotland.

About 40 businesses were surveyed by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry while preparing the report.

The Partnership Group included Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils, Network Rail, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Transport Scotland and other bodies chosen to help represent wider sections of Scottish civic and business life.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron told BBC, "As the UK moves towards a rapid, resilient and sustainable rail network for the 21st century, it is vital that Scotland is included from the outset."

"The ball is now squarely in the court of the UK Government and we are seeking a clear signal that they are prepared to work alongside the Scottish Government to deliver this essential infrastructure project," Cameron said.