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Report says HS2 will give economy £15bn boost
A NEW report suggests HS2 will boost the British economy by £15billion per year - but critics say it is "a report commissioned by HS2 Ltd to justify HS2 Ltd".
Research carried out by accountants KPMG says the proposed project will boost the economies of Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and close the north-south divide.
But Bucks County Council Leader Martin Tett said the review wasn't impartial and relied on a number of assumptions.
The report was released days after the Public Accounts Committee said the Department for Transport had not yet provided a convincing economic case.
Cllr Tett, who is also chairman of the 51m campaign group of councils opposed to the controversial project, said: "This has the feeling of a desperate attempt to shore up a failing project that has been independently reviewed by experts groups such as the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office and the Institute for Economic Affairs. All have found HS2 a seriously flawed project and a poor use of public money.
"The real test is how does the use of over £50 billion of hard pressed taxpayer's money on HS2 compare to the alternatives available of upgrading our existing rail, road and international airport infrastructure.
"We could also be investing billions in really high value business projects in our core cities and around the entire country generating jobs and growth now. On every count HS2 is found wanting."
He added: "[This is] A report commissioned by HS2 Ltd, to justify HS2 Ltd. This is hardly the impartial, independent review of the economic value of HS2 that is desperately needed."
Richard Houghton of the Amersham-based HS2 Action Alliance said: "Betting £50 billion on a single train line being the solution to the economic woes of the country outside of London really is irresponsible - and doesn't cover up for the lack of a coherent economic strategy for the regions. It's time to accept the facts: HS2 is an unnecessary waste of money."
Richard Threlfall, KPMG’s Head for Infrastructure, Building and Construction, said: "There have been repeated calls for a business case for the HS2 scheme focused on jobs, productivity and growth. KPMG’s analysis forms a key part of that business case, setting out the economic impact across the country of the HS2 scheme.
"It shows beyond reasonable doubt that HS2 brings net benefits to the country of many times the scheme’s cost. It shows the UK will be £15 billion a year better off with HS2, recovering the cost of the scheme within just a few years."
Lewis Atter of KPMG added: "The work also shows that once the focus is what HS2 can do for the economy, the debate about the ‘lap-top’ effect on the value of time saved on rail turns out to be a red herring. Yes it’s true that because it is possible to use a train a little bit like a mobile office, saving time on a journey isn’t as important as it once was, but it also means that the value of rail connections between places to the economy has gone up and will rise over time.
"HS2 is not just about speed, it is also about new capacity and the ability to provide those mobile office benefits to more businesses, between more places and at higher levels of frequency."
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