When the government proposes to spend billions of taxpayer’s money on a single project which will take more then 20 years to build, it is vital the project is examined very carefully.
For instance, it should be compared to other transport projects which could be put in place with £33 billion. That scale of spending could be used for numerous local transport projects, which overall will benefit millions of people in many different areas of the country.
However, £33 billion doesn’t need to be spent on transport. For instance, we could roll out ultra high speed broadband which would be genuinely new infrastructure. Ultra high speed broadband would benefit people in all areas of the country, enabling people across the entire country to grow their businesses and create local jobs. It wouldn’t be limited to people who live in a handful of big cities, but could be used by the city dweller and country dweller alike.
Or it could be spent on a huge number of smaller projects: if each constituency in the country was given an equal share of that £33 billion, they would have £51 million to spend locally, on the things that benefit local people and local businesses. The priority for the area might be new schools, job creation schemes, improved hospitals or something local to the area.
It’s easy to say that we aren’t spending very much money now on HS2, so it doesn’t matter, but the government is expecting to spend nearly a billion before the next election on HS2, so it does matter to the country’s finances that this project is allowed to rumble on.