Gareth Stace, UK Steel's Director-General, has welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent announcement that he intends to push ahead with the controversial HS2 rail project, which will link the north and south of the United Kingdom and hopefully bring greater prosperity to the north of the country.

“We welcome the Government’s decision to press ahead with HS2 in full," Mr Stace commented."Today, we are calling on the Government to ensure that the benefits of this multi-billion pound project are felt in all four corners of the United Kingdom, by maximising the opportunities to use high-quality UK steel products.

According to Stace, HS2 will use 2Mt of steel over the next 10 years. "The UK’s steel producers stand ready to supply the steel for the new track, rolling stock, tunnels, bridges and much more besides," said Stace, adding that the use of UK-made steel for HS2 would support over 2,000 jobs, and deliver £1.5 billion to the UK economy – ensuring the benefits of this project are not just felt along the route, but in steel communities across the UK.

“Last May, the steel industry, with BEIS support, launched the UK Steel Charter, a new initiative that will drive-up the use of UK-produced steel in public projects. We firmly believe that where projects are paid for from the public purse, there is a duty to maximise the benefits to the UK in terms of jobs, skills and economic growth; the use of UK steel will do just this. We now call on HS2 and the Transport Department to sign up to the Charter and ensure that this multi-billion pound project benefits steel communities across the UK.”

Stephen Phipson, chiefexecutive of Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, added: “Industry will applaud this bold, sensible and pragmatic decision which will help change the country for the better. For too long poor regional connectivity, and the UK’s creaking infrastructure, have been major contributors to the regional imbalance between the North and South, as well as the continuing poor productivity performance which urgently needs lifting.

“However, this was never an ‘either or’ decision favouring one project at the expense of other infrastructure investments including better East West links, especially across the Pennines. Government now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop a fully integrated transport plan for the whole country which it should grab with both hands.”