Plaid Cymru Transport Spokesperson, Jonathan Edwards MP, has said that HS2 must be scrapped, after further evidence of soaring costs and its “deeply damaging” direct and indirect effects on Wales.
The Financial Times this weekend claimed that is to spiral by as much as £30bn, according to an internal review. Allan Cook, the new Chairman of HS2, reportedly warned the British Government that costs could rise to between £70bn and £85bn for the English railway line.
Announcing spending for some railway stations in the Welsh capital, the Welsh Secretary told BBC Radio Cymru that Welsh budgets had “benefited greatly because they get their share of the expenditure that is given to HS2”. However, Wales will receive proportionally less in future funding settlements due to HS2’s influence on ‘Comparability Factors’ – a part of the equation used to decide how much the Welsh Government should receive dependent on Whitehall departmental spending in England.
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 increases 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.
Transport experts have also forecast that HS2 would likely reduce employment growth in Wales by 21,000 jobs between 2007 and 2040.
Jonathan Edwards MP said:
“HS2 is an affront to the Welsh taxpayer. Wales is losing billions of pounds in funding which is rightfully ours, both now and in the future. That is not to mention the economic disadvantage that we will be placed at by this inordinately expensive England-only project. HS2 will have damaging direct and indirect effects on our nation.
“Wales is being cheated out of vast amounts of money owed to us under our devolution deal that could be invested in our own transport networks, schools and the NHS.
“Yet again, Alun Cairns has been an apologist for a rotten deal from London rather than fighting for decent deal for Wales.
“Seemingly due to London Labour’s support for the project, the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay has also refused to fight for a fair deal.
“Wales’s transport network is simply unfit for purpose, yet Westminster is spending billions across the border. It is clear that we cannot trust or afford to let another country decide our transport infrastructure policy.”