DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg was in Sheffield to defend the decision to site the new HS2 station three miles from the city centre.
The Sheffield Hallam MP was speaking at the site of the proposed new station at Meadowhall.
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He said the project was ‘good for the whole country and especially good in healing this north-south divide that we have in our economy for far, far too long’.
Asked about criticism the line will not run into Sheffield city centre, Mr Clegg said: “The city centre option is not a cost-free one.
“It would be a lot more expensive and also the train link would be slower, which slightly defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.”
Mr Clegg said a route in central Sheffield would have cut through a 4,000 home community housing development, the state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and a stretch of ancient woodland.
He said: “If you look at those balance of effects of one location versus another, most fair-minded people would conclude, as the Department for Transport has, that this is a better location.”
Mr Clegg said: “Having the high-speed rail link just coming here for instance, in South Yorkshire, will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.
“It’ll mean that businesses here are much more connected with the rest of the country – only an hour from here down to London.
The Department of Transport said the Meadowhall station will be connected to Sheffield Midland station by a link with a five-minute journey time and nine trains per hour at peak times.
HS2 is also expected to support the creation of around 5,000 jobs in the station development regeneration areas around Meadowhall.