Friday, 1 November 2013

Lancaster MP Backs HS2, despite concerns it might cost Lancaster economy up to £45 milliion in lost business

Despite recently revealed figures which indicate Lancaster may lose out if the controversial HS2 rail link is built, the plan continues to earn the support of its MP, Eric Ollerenshaw.

Earlier this month, a freedom of information request from a member of the public which was passed on to the BBC Newsnight programme revealed the extent to which cities could lose out economically due to HS2. The information, part of the research behind a report which the Government paid KPMG a quarter of a million pounds for in September, was not previously produced.

Among the the full list of places (PDF Link) which could lose out and their maximum potential economic loss, the figures suggest Lancaster could lose as much £45.51m in business, although the figures also suggest the Link could generate £7.13 million for the local economy.

The variance in the estimates will no doubt provide ammunition for both pro and oppostion groups to the scheme, and Mr Ollerenshaw seems resolute in his continued support.

"Obviously many of us who support HS2 hope it will go through to Glasgow and Edinburgh and cannot understand why we do not start building from there now," he said during the debate that lead to a vote in favour of preparatory work beginning on the route in the House of Commons yesterday, "but be that as it may."

Mr Ollerenshaw sought clarification from government that should the link go ahead, future builds might see cities between Manchester and Glasgow left out of the scheme as a potential stop on a high-speed line to Glasgow – including Lancaster.

The Stop HS2 campaign site, which only reported on the highest figures cities might lose, notes the KPMG report itself was widely trashed in September by academics and economics as it relied on a brand new untested methodology, which ignored many of the factors which influence economic activity. As such, it was dismissed as nothing but a PR exercise, which the revelation that negative economic impacts were missed out underlines.

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