Monthly Archives: January 2013

HS2: What’s in it for Kent?

train-trackPlans for the next phase of the £32bn HS2 high-speed rail network have been unveiled and it could be good news for Kent, says the School’s transport economics expert Professor Roger Vickerman.

Commenting on today’s government announcement, Professor Vickerman said: ‘The Government’s announcement of the route for the northern extension of HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds could be good news for Kent.

‘Whilst much of the focus is on the possible environmental effects of the route, a key element of the plan is that it includes a link from the new HS2 route to HS1. In principle this could allow high-speed services to operate from Ashford to the Midlands and North, boosting even further the integration of Kent into the UK economy.

‘This may be unlikely for various reasons, as the main focus has been on linking cities such as Manchester and Birmingham with Paris and Brussels. But the economics of these through services is likely to be marginal; they could be used however to boost services from the Kent stations to the continent with regional Eurostar services calling at the Kent stations.

‘At the same time experience of living with HS1 in Kent can allow a demonstration of how quickly new infrastructure can be absorbed without creating the devastation being predicted by some. The only depressing thing about today’s announcement is that the first trains over the new lines will not run until 2026 to Birmingham and 2032 at the earliest to Manchester and Leeds.’

Roger Vickerman is Professor of European Economics and Dean of the University’s Brussels School of International Studies.

Research could help shape new Common Agricultural Policy

sheep-farmerResearch from the School of Economics could help shape changes to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) being considered by the European Parliament.

Professor Sophia Davidova, Professor of European Agricultural Policy, is leading an international team of researchers looking at proposals for a new CAP package for the period 2013–20.

Professor Davidova is studying the value of semi-subsistence and small family farming to communities across Europe, using case studies in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Poland – as well as the example of Scotland’s crofters. Her colleague Dr Alastair Bailey will investigate the contribution of small farms to the rural environment and traditional landscapes.
Around 66 per cent of Europe’s farmers – 8 million out of total of 12 million – receive direct payments under the current CAP arrangements. Around 70 per cent of farm holdings in the EU area are less than five hectares. However, very small farmers are currently excluded from the CAP.

Professor Davidova said: ‘The research will consider the future of small and semi-subsistence farmers within the context of the CAP.

‘In many countries these types of farms have become more important politically because of their social value in acting as a buffer against pockets of rural poverty.

‘They also have a role in preserving rural communities and protecting traditional environmental features. The long tradition of family farming in many countries in Europe has contributed towards the maintenance of a living countryside, linked to local towns, with an attractive landscape and biodiversity.’

The research will evaluate the effectiveness of the proposals on the table for the CAP after 2013 and make recommendations on policy measures to enhance the capacity of small farmers across Europe to deliver public good.

Professor Davidova’s research findings will be presented to the European Parliament in May 2013.
For further information or interview requests contact Martin Herrema in the Press Office at the University of Kent
Tel: 01227 823581

Launch of new MSc in Agri-Environmental Economics and Policy

wheat-squareThe School of Economics is launching a new Master’s programme in Agri-Environmental Economics and Policy for entry in 2013. The programme replaces both the MSc in Applied Environmental Economics and the MSc in Agricultural Economics.

Sophia Davidova, Professor of European Agricultural Policy and the School’s Director of Graduate Studies, said: ‘There is a strong interrelationship between agricultural and environmental issues, and the School has developed this new programme to provide a more comprehensive learning experience for our students.’

For further information on the new programme, click here.