West Norfolk has been
highlighted as one of the areas that will lose out most from the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link.
A 92-page report by KPMG, part of the largest accounting firm in Europe, has revealed that HS2 could make 50 areas in the UK, including West Norfolk, worse off.
When the report was published in September it listed the regions which would benefit most from the rail link, but the areas which would be worst affected have only been revealed following a Freedom of Information request from BBC Two’s Newsnight programme.
The report suggests economic output in West Norfolk would be the fifth worst affected in the country, down by £56million.
West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney was confident that people would not be drawn away from the area and said rural economies must be taken seriously.
He said: “From what I have read in the initial report, I view it with a lot of disappointment.
“It is really important that this infrastructure spending is made to the benefit of the whole country. To develop a part of the country at the expense of another would be a bad move.
“We have been looking forward to some increased capital spending links to King’s Lynn and given to understand these are going ahead and these are essential to the growth of the eastern economy.
“My urge to the government would be to make it entirely clear that we will all benefit from what is some important infrastructure spending.”
Mr Daubney said the report’s findings in relation to West Norfolk had come as a surprise.
He said: “There is the temptation for rural economies not to be taken quite as seriously as the big urban economies and that would be a mistake.
“West Norfolk business growth has been really quite dramatic during a tough recessionary period in manufacturing, service and export.
“Success needs to be encouraged to accelerate even more.”
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “I have always been fairly sceptical about HS2.
“I am not against progress or modern railways as we have to move to the future.
“My concern is the massive cost of HS2. The cost has gone up to £50 billion and we will suffer because of it.
“There are improvements we need locally – £40million would give us new platforms, rolling stock and signalling. That is one per cent of the total cost of HS2.
“The report indicates that as well as benefits to the areas that the link is going to, there will be other areas that will lose out.”
KPMG said its report clearly shows the benefits of HS2 for some regions and the negative impacts it might have on others.
A spokesman said: “Maps in the report show potential productivity gains would outweigh the potential losses and the benefits to the UK economy would be far greater than the negative impacts.”
If the controversial high speed rail link goes ahead it will provide a high speed rail line between London and Birmingham and on to Manchester and Leeds.
Construction is due to start in 2017 and be completed by 2025.