Drop HS2 pet project, government told

 
Kate McCann
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A LEADING think tank has criticised the government’s plans for HS2, calling it an expensive pet project that “should be canned”.

Liberal leaning CentreForum released a report into the UK’s infrastructure projects today and warned that current schemes are “unrealistic and unaffordable”.

“I’m clear that pet projects such as HS2 should be canned. We can’t afford them. Smaller less glamorous projects will give us better results, and we’ll get them much faster and more cheaply,” research associate at the think tank, Quentin Maxwell-Jackson said.

“It’s time for the government to stop behaving like a child in a sweetshop, and to inject much more realism into the UK’s infrastructure plans,” he added.

The report concludes that the government is not investing enough money in infrastructure and calls the schedule for planned schemes a wish list, not a reliable timeline for implementation. It identifies lack of sustainable funding as one of the major barriers, not private finance – which it explains is widely available.

The think tank makes a number of recommendations in order to get projects moving, including charging road users and looking at tax incremental financing so that those who benefit from investment bear some of the costs of construction.

A government spokesperson said HS2 has backing from leading figures in business and industry, as well as cross-party support.

“Rail journeys in Britain are growing faster than many countries in Europe and only HS2 will give the capacity we need,” he said.

A Telegraph/ICM survey at the weekend revealed that only three per cent of British voters think the £50bn high-speed link will be delivered on time and within budget.