Brits want more housing but not high speed rail

Marion Dakers
THE BRITISH public would like to see the government invest in or facilitate more house building to boost the flagging economy, according to a poll out yesterday.

However, a survey suggests that there is less support for building new airports and runways or for beefing up the country’s rail infrastructure.

Four in ten people believe that government support for building more homes is the best way for the state to boost the economy through infrastructure projects, according to a poll of 1,442 people by Ipsos Mori.

Two in ten see improvements to roads as the best option, while 14 per cent think work on existing rail infrastructure would be the most effective way to kickstart growth in this manner.

In contrast, five per cent chose expanding air capacity as their preferred project, while four per cent want a new high speed rail line the most.

The High Speed 2 Action Alliance, which lobbies against HS2 and commissioned the research, said the poll showed public opinion lags behind the coalition’s ambitious plans.

The lack of enthusiasm for aviation expansion has not deterred air chiefs from banging the drum for more capacity, however.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told the transport select committee yesterday that the UK needs “at least three [new runways]: one at Heathrow, one at Gatwick, one at Stansted, as fast as possible”. However, he mocked the idea of a new hub in the Thames Estuary as “insane, stupid, hare-brained”, stopping himself of going much further as “in parliamentary language it would be unprintable”.