Fears grow that HS2 ‘may cost Wales bil­lions’

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS -

CROSS-PARTY con­cern is mount­ing about the cost of HS2 amid fears that Wales will “lose out on bil­lions of pounds” as a re­sult of the high-speed rail project.

Plaid Cymru ar­gues that the for­mula used to al­lo­cate fund­ing means the Welsh Gov­ern­ment will not re­ceive as gen­er­ous a cash up­lift as Scot­land or North­ern Ireland.

The warn­ing comes as lead­ing Con­ser­va­tives are speak­ing out to crit­i­cise the flag­ship in­fra­struc­ture project.

Ja­cob Rees-Mogg, one of the lead­ing Tory op­po­nents of Theresa May’s Brexit plans, told the New Civil En­gi­neer mag­a­zine this month it was “absolutely time to face the facts and pull the plug on the HS2 project”.

Es­ther McVey, who is now Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, re­port­edly told con­stituents in Novem­ber 2017, it emerged this month, that the cost of the project, which the UK Gov­ern­ment in­sists it is com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing within its £55.7bn bud­get, “might now be more than £100bn”.

For­mer For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris Johnson has said there are other projects which ought to “take prece­dence over HS2” and Com­mons Leader An­drea Lead­som has re­port­edly called for it to be scrapped.

Plaid Cymru Trans­port spokesman and Car­marthen and East Dine­fwr MP Jonathan Ed­wards MP said: “We are ask­ing for noth­ing more than our fair share as set out in the de­vo­lu­tion deal. Just the £5bn we are owed from West­min­ster spend­ing £100bn on an English rail­way line.

“Like a black hole, Lon­don-fo­cused in­fra­struc­ture projects con­tinue to suck-up ev­ery last penny of West­min­ster spend­ing.”

Labour peer Tony Berke­ley has warned HS2 is “likely to run mas­sively over-bud­get”.

The con­tro­versy over HS2 fund­ing comes in the wake of last year’s can­cel­la­tion of the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the Great West­ern line from Cardiff to Swansea.

There is also con­cern that if HS2 slashes jour­ney times be­tween Lon­don and English cities it will be harder for South Wales to mar­ket it­self as an ideal lo­ca­tion for out-of-Lon­don head­quar­ters.

Plaid ac­cused the Welsh Gov­ern­ment of not do­ing enough to se­cure a fair share of UK Gov­ern­ment spend­ing. It con­tends that un­der the for­mula used to al­lo­cate cash there is the a risk that, un­like Scot­land and North­ern Ireland, Wales will re­ceive a “smaller slice of the over­all fund­ing”.

How­ever, a Welsh Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “Wales has re­ceived ad­di­tional fund­ing over the cur­rent spend­ing re­view pe­riod as a re­sult of in­creases in the Depart­ment for Trans­port bud­get, which in large part arise from fund­ing for HS2. We will con­tinue to press this case in the run up to the next spend­ing re­view.”

A UK Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: “We are in­vest­ing a record amount in re­new­ing Wales’ rail in­fra­struc­ture to im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity and re­duce dis­rup­tion across the net­work. Net­work Rail fore­casts spend­ing of £2bn in Wales up to 2024.”

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