Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has announced an independent review into the High Speed 2 (HS2) project.
The review will be led by Douglas Oakervee, a former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers who has considerable experience gained from a wide range of major projects.
Oakervee’s deputy will be Lord Tony Berkeley, former head of the Rail Freight Group and a Labour peer.
They will be supported by a panel of experts, including consisting of Michèle Dix, Stephen Glaister, Patrick Harley, Sir Peter Hendy, Andrew Sentance, Andy Street, John Cridland and Tony Travers. Each will focus on a specific area of interest; they will feed in to and be consulted on the report’s conclusions, without having a right of veto in the event that consensus cannot be reached.
The Transport Secretary said that this panel would bring together a range of perspectives from business, academia and the transport sector to ensure an independent, thorough and objective assessment of the project.
The terms of reference confirm that the review panel will look at whether and how HS2 should proceed, using all existing evidence on the project to consider:
- Its benefits and impacts;
- Affordability and efficiency;
- Deliverability and scope;
- Its phasing, including its relationship with Northern Powerhouse Rail.
A final report will be sent to the Secretary of State, with oversight from the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, by the autumn. The report will inform the government’s decisions on next steps for the project. Limited, largely preparatory works, on the project will continue in parallel with the report’s work.
Making the announcement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.
“That’s why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2. Douglas Oakervee and his expert panel will consider all the evidence available and provide the department with clear advice on the future of the project.”
Douglas Oakervee said of his appointment: “The Prime Minister has asked me to lead this important review into the HS2 programme. I look forward to working with my deputy, Lord Berkeley, to advise the government on how and whether to progress with HS2, based on all existing evidence.”