As Grant Shapps unveils the new Integrated Rail Plan, we support the Government’s commitment to addressing economic imbalances across the country, but the South East’s points of entry to the UK must not be overlooked.
Following the 2020 Oakervee Review into major transport schemes including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, today’s Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) is described as the “biggest transport investment programme in a century.”
Investment is singularly aimed at regions in the North and the Midlands – purposefully beyond London and the South East – with priority given to a quicker delivery to meet levelling up ambitions.
The South East has the main points of entry to the UK with major sea ports at Dover, Southampton and Portsmouth as well as Gatwick Airport and Eurotunnel. Unfettered, smooth movement through these ports for goods, services and tourists – all so vital to the economic recovery – can only be secured through efficient transport links to and from these ports. South East Councils will continue to call for more efficient east-west journeys with more capacity on links to and from regional ports of entry.
Strengthening these points of entry in the South East will unlock potential and open up new opportunities across the region. The South East is one of three regions in the UK that makes a net contribution to the Treasury and solid investment in the region’s infrastructure is vital to enable the UK’s economy to thrive.