Leading business group says HS2 is 'one grand folly'
IoD survey reveals businesses have little confidence in costly project and see few economic benefits
A LEADING business lobby group has described the controversial HS2 rail project as "one grand folly" and has called on the government to scrap it.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) said a survey of its members showed firms were unconvinced by the economic case for the £42.6bn scheme. According to the BBC, the survey found that only 27 per cent of members felt the project would be good value for money. Since August 2011, the number of IoD members who believe HS2 will be "important to their business" has dropped from 54 per cent to 41 per cent.
IoD's director general, Simon Walker, said: "Businesses up and down the country know value for money when they see it, and our research shows that they don't see it in the government's case for HS2.
"Overall there appears to be little enthusiasm amongst IoD members, not even in the regions where the benefits are supposed to be strongest," he said. "We agree with the need for key infrastructure spending, but the business case for HS2 simply is not there... it is time for the government to look at a thousand smaller projects instead of falling for one grand folly."
Last week, Labour's Alistair Darling, who approved the first stage of HS2 in 2009, said he now believes there are here are "better ways to spend £50bn than on one line." Earlier that week, Treasury officials had warned that thecost of HS2 has spiralled and could hit £73bn.
However, the Department for Transport insists that HS2 will provide investment opportunities and create a significant number of jobs, adding £50bn to the UK economy.
A DfT spokesman told the BBC that the HS2 Growth Taskforce would "work with city and business leaders to ensure we are capitalising on every opportunity to help regeneration, job creation, investment opportunities and in building a skilled UK economy".
Without HS2, the spokesman said, "our existing rail network will be full by the mid-2020s at a cost to passengers and businesses up and down country". ·