Saturday, February 04, 2012

Sir John Hampden & Hannan on HS2

  An excerpt from the post highlights several complaints

You don't have to live along the route to feel the loss. All of us will have given something up if a new line slits its way through the Chilterns. And, of course, all of us will end up paying for the wretched thing. Even if Britain were running a healthy surplus, I'd be sceptical of the economics of HS2. The costs are vast and immediate, the gains speculative. As local campaigners contest the route inch by inch, securing a tunnel here, a diversion there, the price will rise further. We might end up having to spend more than £30 billion on the link – money which we shall have to borrow, at a time when our deficit is higher than Portugal's, Ireland's or Italy's.
The democratic objection is almost as powerful as the economic. At every general election, you hear the same complaint on doorstep after doorstep: 'It doesn't matter how you vote, nothing ever changes'. Is it any wonder people feel this way? Along the route of the line, there is almost unanimous opposition from elected representatives. District councillors, county councillors, MPs and, for what it's worth, MEPs are against the new line. (I'll be meeting local anti-HS2 campaigners this evening in East Claydon, along with my Euro-colleague James Elles: contact the Buckingham Conservative Association if you'd like to come.) Such opposition has made no difference. No wonder people are giving up on the ballot box.



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