Plaid Cymru Transport Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has said that “HS2 is an affront to the Welsh taxpayer” following the announcement that it has been given the go-ahead.
Not a single piece of HS2 track will reach Wales, however, the Westminster Government is refusing to give Wales any funding to offset the cost of HS2 in England, as is normally the case, claiming it is an ‘England and Wales’ project.
Typically, spending in England leads to an uplift in the money given to the Welsh Government as part of the devolution settlement – this is known as a ‘Barnett consequential’. This population based measure means Wales gets around 5% of money spent by Westminster in England.
Scotland and Northern Ireland will see a full population based funding increase due to Westminster’s spending on HS2, however, the Westminster Government has refused to give the Welsh Government the same uplift via the Barnett consequential mechanism.
The costs of the project has almost trebled from £32.2bn to £106bn, even before work has begun in earnest to build the railway.
Transport experts have also forecast that HS2 would likely reduce employment growth in Wales by 21,000 jobs between 2007 and 2040. This would be a result of business moving to areas closer to HS2 stations outside of London, rather than choosing Wales, which will be at a competitive disadvantage.
Following the announcement, Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“Plaid Cymru has long said that HS2 is an affront to the Welsh taxpayer, and with spiralling costs it is only going to become worse.
“While the Westminster Government plans bridges to Northern Ireland and £100billion railways in England, Welsh commuters are stuck on cramped, delayed trains that are unfit for purpose.
“There isn’t even a rail line within Wales that links the north and south of our country, never mind a high-speed line.
“Wales is losing out on billions of pounds of funding that is rightfully ours – it is simply not tenable for the Westminster Government to argue that this project is ‘England and Wales’ when not a single inch of track is in our country.
“Last time I checked a map, London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds are all in England.”