THE CHANNEL TUNNEL RAIL LINK: OPPORTUNITIES AND PROBLEMS FOR REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
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The regional economic impact of the Channel Tunnel has engendered much public and private sector interest. Previous studies examining the regional implications of the Tunnel have argued that related development pressures will be largely confined to South East England, further widening the "North-South" divide. Economic Potential Analysis was earlier employed by Clark el. al. (1969) and Keeble et. al. (1982a) to model the geographical impact of the Tunnel on the relative accessibility of the UK regions. The conclusions drawn from these studies support the proposition that the South East would gain at the expense of the more peripheral regions. However, the important implications of a rail-only Tunnel have yet to be modelled. The results of the present study show that opportunities created by the Tunnel could be spread more evenly than had previously been predicted. However, following a review of the legislative and policy environment of the Tunnel and related infrastructure, it is argued that as a result of British Government inaction the more peripheral UK regions are likely to be unable to maximise any potential benefits created. Nonetheless, the overall regional economic impact of the Tunnel will depend ultimately on the reactions of the business community (Pieda 1989a&b). The findings of a questionnaire survey carried out for this thesis reveal a considerable degree of similarity in perceptions and anticipated usage of the Tunnel for companies in the South East and South West, including the "Far South West". If this similarity is apparent after the Tunnel opens, the regional economic structure of the UK might only be marginally affected.
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