Sat

24

Aug

2013

BBC News - HS2 chief says Labour still backs project

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That would be an "act of national self-mutilation", he wrote, in an article for the New Statesman . The HS2 scheme entails building a new high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham and to Manchester and Leeds. The project's initial phase was approved in principle under the previous Labour government, and the scheme has had the backing of all three main party leaders since its conception - despite strong opposition among some backbench MPs. 'No blank cheque' Chancellor George Osborne has predicted the high-speed rail network will be an "engine for growth" for the north of England and the Midlands. I'd really like to knock on the head this talk of costs spiralling out of control End Quote Alison Munro HS2 chief executive Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has suggested the scheme could help to "heal the north-south divide". But on Friday, former Labour chancellor and transport secretary Alistair Darling said he was withdrawing his support for it.
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The helicopter's operator, CHC, said it was flying for the oil company Total and that the aircraft lost communication as it approached the airport on the southern tip of Shetland's main island. The Department of Transport deployed a team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which is charged with investigating civil aircraft accidents, after details of the incident came through. On Friday two lifeboats from Lerwick and Aith joined helicopters from the coastguard and RAF Lossiemouth in the search operation, which also involved a diverted ferry and a freight ship. Poor visibility from misty weather conditions, coupled with strong tides and the location of the helicopter near cliffs made the rescue operation hazardous. A rescue helicopter brought nine people back to Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland islands, where one person was taken away on a stretcher while the rest walked off. "The people that were involved are in varying stages of injury; no one has walked away from this without a scratch," a coastguard spokeswoman said. The police declared a major incident after the crash and the airport was closed to allow the emergency services to deal with the aftermath. All of those who were rescued were taken to Gilbert Bain hospital in Lerwick. The crash was described as a "very serious matter" by the RMT union, which represents maritime transport workers. Jake Molloy, the Aberdeen-based regional organiser, said there had been concern among members after a number of incidents involving another model of helicopter that had been involved in two North Sea ditchings. "We need to wait to determine what forced the aircraft down. Quite clearly it's the last thing we need at this point in time," Molloy said.
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