A HIGH-VALUE “manufacturing valley” along the M1 corridor in Yorkshire could build the trains used on the high-speed rail line linking the region to London, a university chief has claimed.
Sheffield University vice-chancellor Sir Keith Burnett outlined ambitious plans for growing South Yorkshire’s manufacturing sector at the 378th Cutlers’ Feast last night.
He told his audience that the HS2 line presented the chance for a new generation of trains to be made in Yorkshire.
He also identified civil nuclear energy as another major growth area which could attracts billions of pounds of investment.
Sir Keith said the Sheffield City Region should look to build on the success of the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The centre carries out world-leading, industry-based manufacturing research and development.
It includes the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, launched in 2001, and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which was launched four years ago.
Sir Keith chose what has been described as “the most important business dinner outside London” to unveil the university’s future ambitions.
He said: “I believe we have the potential for a great deal more, something which could transform the AMRC site at Waverley into the hub of advanced manufacture in the UK: a high-value manufacturing valley along the M1 corridor and renewing our city region and nation through the possibilities of investment and major new production.”
Sir Keith told his audience that the UK faced three choices in manufacturing. He said it could buy from the rest of the world and accept “the subcontract work they pass down to us”; it could aim to develop new products by small and medium sizes enterprises; or it could accept the challenge of large infrastructure projects in order to “sell what we make to the rest of the world”.
Sir Keith, who is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology and advises the Treasury on major infrastructure projects, outlined opportunities around the manufacturing of civil nuclear energy and high-speed trains.
He said: “Why shouldn’t small modular reactors which can play a key role in our energy infrastructure – and indeed in keeping the lights on – be made here in Sheffield? New-build nuclear energy will be an investment of approximately £60bn.
“Should the ability to manufacture the civil nuclear energy which will be needed to power a nation which began in this country be lost to France or to China?
“And why should our region not only have a station for HS2 but actually produce the trains which will run on that track? Because we can.
“The HS2 market is worth £7bn. What would that mean to our region and to our nation?”
He added: “We have the skills to do this kind of work better and more efficiently.”