Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Destructive jealousy

I don’t really understand why people are getting so worked up about the clear conclusion that if some areas of the UK benefit from the development of the new HS2 rail line, other areas of the UK will lose.  That is surely an inevitable concomitant of any investment in improved infrastructure – ‘extra’ economic activity in one place is lust as likely to be ‘displaced’ economic activity from somewhere else as it is to be genuinely ‘extra’.  Justifying a project on the basis of the competitive advantages derived in one place has an inevitable concomitant elsewhere.
I particularly don’t understand the knee-jerk reaction of some which is to argue that because some areas lose out from a particular investment, then that investment should not proceed.  It’s a bit like saying ‘because we can’t have it neither can you’.  Surely the more constructive responses to say ‘if you’re having it we want it too’?
My biggest reservation from the start about the HS2 proposal has been that it has been put forward as a stand-alone project rather than part of an overall strategy.  I can understand other areas being ahead of us in the queue, but my concern is about the fact that we don’t even seem to be in the queue at the moment and nobody seems to be putting the case that we should be.  Rather than opposing a scheme which will benefit others surely it is far more productive and constructive to demand inclusion of Wales in the longer term plans.
There’s a danger in the attitude being displayed here that infrastructure investment becomes a race to the bottom.

1 comment:

G Horton-Jones said...


Call me a cynic but perhaps there is only a short term plan and that anything outside the London Birmingham Bristol triangle is an irrelevance