The independent London newspaper

HS2 is purely about economic growth

04 January, 2018

• WE have noted the correspondence and articles about HS2 that have been published within the pages of the New Journal over the last few years with interest but also with some concern.

Although our views differ on many issues, there is one matter upon which we both agree; and that is the importance of delivering the HS2 project over an extended period of time. Consequently we have taken the unprecedented step of submitting this joint letter, in order once and for all, to set the record straight.

Your readers are correct in questioning the rationale of the level of expenditure on the HS2 project given the apparent paucity of benefit that the final product will deliver. This is, of course, because the HS2 project has nothing whatsoever to do with decreasing journey times across the country or indeed enhancing connectivity across the same. It is to do purely with economic growth.

As your readers are aware, the GDP is the main measure of UK economic growth based on the value of goods and services. So any activity that involves the flow of capital enhances the GDP. Although the New Economics Foundation has suggested more effective metrics of measuring the “quality”, as well as “quantity” of our economy and lifestyles, we firmly subscribe to this more “traditional” approach.

The GDP for the third quarter of 2017 has been put at £490.7billion (Office for National Statistics). The cost of the HS2 project has been put at just over £50billion (www.parliament.uk) although the final cost is likely to be nearer £90billion (CityAM and other commentators).

In other words, at its lowest figure, the total cost for the HS2 project equates to nearly 2.5 per cent of our annual GDP, and at the higher figure, over 4.5 per cent. Although these percentages appear small, they are hugely significant in terms of fuelling our GDP.

And, of course, with the economy destined for a huge dive over the next decade or two due to our departure from the EU, we need to do everything possible to enhance our GDP.

So if your readers wish to augment their understanding about the HS2 project (as is their democratic right), we advise that they would be better to approach their political representatives with arguments focused upon the way we measure the economy, rather than the cost-benefit of reduced rail travel time, which has nothing to do with the delivery of HS2.

Having clearly explained the rationale behind the HS2 project, we are confident that your readers will be fully supportive of its delivery, despite the short to medium terms adverse environmental impacts it will have on the Camden area (and beyond).



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