UK Government accused of disdain for Wales over HS2 ‘mockery’
The Welsh Labour MS for North Wales has hit out at the UK Government over the HS2 railway project, accusing it of ‘making a mockery’ of its commitment to a ‘United’ Kingdom
Carolyn Thomas, Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Public Transport, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Schapps accusing him of continuing a ‘pattern of neglect’ of Welsh rail infrastructure and urging him to reconsider the Welsh funding element of HS2.
She points out that under the current proposals, Wales will receive no direct benefit for the £96bn project yet the Welsh taxpayer is contributing to its rising costs.
Ms Thomas says: “Scotland is receiving £10 billion of funding from the HS2 budget and Wales should be entitled to around £5 billion.
“According to the Wales Governance Centre, from 2011-2019, Wales has received a total of £514 million less than it should have received under a population-based share of the UK’s rail infrastructure spending.
“The refusal to provide such funding continues a pattern of neglect of Welsh rail infrastructure by the Welsh Government.
“Public transport is vital to any serious attempt to tackle climate change; it can drive economic advancement and social inclusion for the groups in society who need it most, whilst helping to drive down emissions.”
🚅💷| Not giving a single penny of the £96bn HS2 budget to Wales makes a mockery of the UK government's commitment to a 'United' Kingdom.
I have written to Grant Shapps urging him to stop the disdain for Wales and ensure that Welsh taxpayers get their fair share of rail funding. pic.twitter.com/8vznXGtJDv
— Carolyn Thomas MS / AS (@CThomasMS) February 18, 2022
In March 2021, a Cardiff University report concluded that the Welsh Government will receive less money to spend on transport “for decades” thanks to HS2.
HS2 was designated as an England and Wales project despite the fact that no part of the track is included in Wales.
The decisions excluded Wales from receiving the additional funding that will flow to Scotland and Northern Ireland over the lifespan of the project, researchers at Cardiff University said.
“For the remainder of the HS2 project’s lifetime – likely to be several decades – the Welsh Government will now receive a much smaller share from any increase in the Department for Transport’s budget,” they said.
It was part of what they called “historic under-funding” that was “being baked into the system” in Wales.
‘England only project’
In February Michael Gove claimed that Wales will “benefit significantly” due to HS2, with his comments coming after Wales’ FirstMinister slammed the UK Government’s “neglect” of rail infrastructure in Wales as “pathetic”.
As Levelling Up Secretary, he commented “I do not think Wales loses out as a result of HS2,” he told the House of Commons. “I think north Wales in particular benefits significantly because of increased connectivity.”
Last year the cross-party Welsh Affairs committee called for the rail scheme to be reclassified as an ‘England only’ project.
“We recommend that HS2 should be reclassified as an England only project,” it said. “Using the Barnett Formula, Wales’ funding settlement should be recalculated to apply an additional allocation based on the funding for HS2 in England.
“We suggest that such a reclassification would help to ensure that Welsh rail passengers receive the same advantage from investment in HS2 as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
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