HS2 will benefit whole UK, transport secretary says

Patrick McLoughlin said that areas that did not benefit from HS2 would benefit from other planned rail improvements

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The HS2 high-speed rail project will bring benefits to the whole UK, the transport secretary has said.

Patrick McLoughlin was speaking after details of the potential losses that HS2 could cause in about 50 regional economies as calculated by consultants KPMG were revealed by BBC Newsnight.

Some of the "losing" areas would benefit from other planned rail improvements, Mr McLoughlin said.

He said the project "was controversial, but it was the right thing to do".

'Voodoo economics'

Speaking to the BBC, Mr McLoughlin said he wanted to see every part of the UK benefit from HS2.

"All these investments that we are looking at is to serve the people of the UK, to make the UK a place where we attract investment," he said.

"It's of no doubt to me that it's beneficial to the UK. We need to make sure our cities in the north are able to compete with the rest of Europe as well.

"HS2 is vitally important overall for the long-term future of the economy."

Map showing the route of phases 1 & 2 of the proposed HS2 rail service

The KPMG report, which was released in September, said the line could boost the UK economy by £15bn a year and listed the regions it said would benefit, with Greater London and West Midlands the biggest winners.

But although it included maps showing which areas not on the route could potentially be worse off, it did not include details of the scale of possible losses.

KPMG's findings have now been released in a freedom of information request passed to BBC Two's Newsnight programme.

According to the research economic output would be worst affected:

  • Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Moray (-£220m)
  • Norfolk East (-£164m)
  • Dundee and Angus (-£96m)
  • Cardiff (-£68m)
  • Norfolk West (-£56m)

HS2 Ltd's chief executive has called them "unsurprising".

But James Bream, policy director of Aberdeen's Chamber of Commerce, said it was "really disappointing" that such a huge number was left out of the original report.

He added the negative impact for the whole north-east of Scotland could be "significant to say the least."

Richard Houghton, from campaign group HS2 Action Alliance, claimed the whole project is based on "voodoo economics".

He said: "If I was sitting in one of the 50 areas set to lose out to the tune of millions of pounds, I would be asking very clear questions."

The chief executive of HS2 Ltd, Alison Munro, said: "What this is showing is that the places that are on the high-speed network... those are the places that will benefit most from high-speed two.

"But high-speed two isn't the only investment that the government is making. Over the next five years it is planning to spend £73bn on transport infrastructure."

Graphic showing how HS2 will reduce journey times: London-Birmingham 35 minute saving; London-Nottingham 35 minute saving; London-Sheffield 46 minute saving; London-Leeds 50 minute saving; London-Manchester 60 minute saving.

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