What the HS2 review means for the environmental consultancy market

Projected costs for the HS2 rail link have risen to £78bn in 2015 prices, compared with the previously budgeted £55.7bn. A government-commissioned review has placed a huge question mark over its future. What are the implications for consultants?

The north-south high-speed rail link HS2 has been a significant source of income for UK environmental consultancies in recent years. But in one of his first acts as prime minister, Boris Johnson has cast doubt over the project’s future. A “go or no go” review of the project, being carried out by civil engineer and former HS2 chair Doug Oakervee, will review the business case for HS2 and report in “autumn 2019”.

The review’s announcement was soon followed by the publication of figures showing the project’s spiralling costs. In a written ministerial statement in early September, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the project is now expected to cost up to £78bn in 2015 prices, up from a budget of £55.7bn (also in 2015 prices). The timetable for the project has also slipped, Shapps revealed. Earlier this week, the chief operating officer of HS2, Richard Robinson, left the project.

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