Should the government drop its H es? Heathrow, Hinkley and HS2.

Yesterday the Sun on Sunday published an article from me on this topic. I reproduce the blog on it I wrote before the Sun was involved but delayed publishing owing to their interest. This is similar to the article they printed.

I expect the new government to want to increase capital investment throughout the economy. They will be right to order more roads, railway capacity, more power stations, more water supply, more airport capacity and faster  broadband. All these are needed for industrial revival, for better lives, and to keep pace with the big expansion of population that has occurred in recent years.

I would expect this to be done with a judicious mixture of public and private sector money, and with an eye to value for money and to future returns on the investments. Transport, Energy and Business, Culture, Environment and other departments of state will be asked to lift the quality, reduce the price and increase the capacity of the utilities they supervise or own. That is the easy bit.

Before they can get far with any of this, there remain three large legacy projects from the Coalition government which they need to determine. All are contentious, all are very expensive, and all still rest to be finally decided. It is a sign of their difficulty and the state of UK government managing large projects that none of them have been signed off despite ten years or more of study and debate.

Each one is at a different stage of development. In the case of the proposed expansion of Heathrow, it falls to the new government to decide finally if extra southern airport capacity is needed, is desirable, and if so where it should be. I cannot offer a conclusion on this, as we still have not read the long and detailed report and evaluation the Coalition  government commissioned. As a constituency MP I wish to see a better response from NATs and Heathrow to the growing complaints from residents in my area following changes to routes which were not consulted on.

Hinkley Point is a difficult case.
However, the new government had every right to review, and the contract was not signed when they took over. The power pledged is at a very high price, which makes an industrial revival more difficult as cheap energy is crucial to modern industry. Nor does it help bring down fuel poverty. The technology is unproven, and could be subject to delay and cost escalation. There are security issues.

The government’s decision to proceed is understandable, but a costly long term decision for the Uk. The next power stations ordered must offer much cheaper power if we are to have any cha ce of an industrial revival, as this need cheap energy.

HS2 never made any financial sense. There are many better and quicker schemes to improve rail capacity across the country that could be brought forward. This project is the most advanced of the three, but probably the worst value for money of the lot.

It would be a very brave government that swept away all these. It would need to have ready a good list of other projects that could be smarter and yield better returns, with realistic and quicker deadlines for undertaking them.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

102 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    The government’s decision to proceed with Hinkley C is not remotely understandable. It is bonkers to commit to buying power at 2.5 times the going rate for gas (a more controllable source too) for many years to come. With fracking and other technology improvements energy is likely to get cheaper still.

    Even if you accepts the Carbon Dioxide “polution” alarmist agenda then gas and carbon recapture in the short term is a far better option. The decision clearly show the government are totally irrational, innumerate, unscientific, mad or all four.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      When Hinckley finally comes on line the strike rate will look even more absurd than now. No one who understands the numbers, economics and engineering could possiby think it makes sense.

      Still not there money I suppose what do they care?

      • acorn
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps you could explain the “numbers”, the “economics”, and the “engineering”, to us numpties out here?

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 20, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Gas or coal, even with carbon capture (if you believe in the CO2 “pollution” religion) would cost about half as much per KWH and leave far less dangerous waste to be cleared up. I am pro nuclear but this is the wrong project.

      • Hope
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        These are not hard decisions. It might be in the fictitious corrupt bubble of Westminster. People make harder decisions than this every day. The military personnel injured in unnecessary Middle East wars caused by Blaire and Cameron have to deal with a lot more each day.

        Let me help you: scrap HS2 it was an expensive EU infrastructure plan that is of no use to the British public. Hinkley is too expensive, instead of quanta title easing infrastructure projects to reduce energy bills should have been implemented. The reason the UK could not was because of the shackle of the EU policy to make all countries interdependent on each other. Create an energy policy for our country and our needs. Heathrow needs to go ahead. The Tories mass immigration needs infrastructure and public services to support it even if the numbers were stopped tomorrow. Rudd and May were responsible for two of these failed policies and incredibly are in more senior positions to mess up the country even further! These politicians create and are the problem.

    • lojolondon
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Carbon ‘recapture’ is pure garbage, it will not work and it cannot ever work. It is designed simply to seperate money from taxpayers.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        Dear Lojo–Eh? I thought the consensus was that it definitely DID work but that it would be “too expensive”, bit like the Swansea barrier, and I like both of them. “Too expensive” is a relative term and compared with the crazy Hinckley scheme both capture and barriers cost peanuts and with absolutely no security or foreign ownership or just plain complexity risks.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        I do not thing man made co2 is a significant problem anyway but carbon capture can certainly work it wastes some of the energy produced but is far cheaper than Hinckley c even after that wastage, per Kwh.

        Hinkley is bonkers.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

        Even with the energy wasted with carbon capture gas could be half the strike price of Hinkley c

      • hefner
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        lojolondon,
        How do you know that? Any reference would be welcome.
        It is true that the previous government has cut funds for research on Carbon Capture and Storage. Can you justify your statement and thus tell all other countries working on CCS (eg, US) to stop wasting inf money?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Why do you think CO2 capture cannot ever work? Ture it wastes quite a lot of the energy in the capture and storage processes but it certainly can work. However on current evidence atmospheric C02 concentrations do not really seem to be a real problem anyway. The pesky “experts” were, as usual, just telling the politicians, green charities and other alarmists what they wanted to hear (and what kept the experts funded with research grants, trips to exotic location climate summits & nice consultancy fees).

    • APL
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic: “It is bonkers to commit to buying power at 2.5 times the going rate for gas (a more controllable source too) for many years to come.”

      Controllable in the sense that you can switch on the gas turbines and get electricity in 45 seconds, but not so controllable in the sense that you have to buy your fuel from Russia, or the Middle East.

      Hinckley C as is, is probably a bad deal, certainly producing some of the most expensive electricity, all for the benefit of the French, there are other nuclear solutions that might be more economic.

      There are other nuclear reactions that could be harnessed for a lot less that Hinckley C, using for example the Thorium salt cycle. We have a near limitless quantity of it too.

      For the price of Hinckely C we could develop our own safe Thorium-salt cycle reactors and regenerate the nuclear energy industry in the UK – first our politicians need each to get their heads out of their posterior orifice.

  2. Mark B
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I would first like to begin with thanking our kind host on posting this. All three projects are of great interest to this country and deserve much debate.

    I would also like to add, that out of three projects mentioned, I have a very personal interest in. The other two however I know people who also have a in one and as for the other there maybe some although I am not sure. I mention this as I think it is important that our kind host and fellow readers understand know this before I write.

    Now that that is out the way I would like to state that before government got involved in such matters the canals, roads, bridges, ships, trains, dockyards, aircraft, factories, farms, housing, education and even our former Empire, were built by private enterprise. I ask therefore, why cannot this be done now ? Why cannot government just say to industry: “You build it, and keep any profits from it.” However, you fail, and it is you and your investors that must pay the price.

    Whenever government gets involved in such schemes, they inevitably become politicised and, the government of whatever hue always, always ends up being emotionally (via the media) blackmailed into pouring more money into it. If it is a private venture, as many small ones are, then they either become a success (eg Apple) or a failure, without a single penny of Taxpayers money being lost.

    Our kind host and others might do well to read up on one of my hero’s of the 20th Century and a man I most closely believe in an follow: John James Cowperthwaite. Google him and look at his Wikipedia bio’. One line stands out.

    “He was asked to find ways in which the government could boost post-war economic outlook but found the economy was recovering swiftly without any government intervention.”

    If he can do it, so can we !

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      A lot of those infrastructure projects did require Acts of Parliament before they could proceed, Acts which no doubt were procured by nefarious means in some cases. So it wasn’t a case that the state had no involvement, even if it was not financial.

      For example:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_India_Docks

      “Milligan was a wealthy West Indies merchant and shipowner, who returned to London having previously managed his family’s Jamaica sugar plantations. Outraged at losses due to theft and delay at London’s riverside wharves, Milligan headed a group of powerful businessmen, including the chairman of the London Society of West India Planters and Merchants, George Hibbert, who promoted the creation of a wet dock circled by a high wall. The group planned and built West India Docks, lobbying Parliament to allow the creation of a West India Dock Company. Milligan served as both Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the West India Dock Company. The Docks were authorised by the West India Dock Act 1799 … the first parliamentary (as opposed to a municipal) Act for dock building.”

      • Patrick Hurd
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        Can you supply a more recent example please!

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted September 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Why? Mark B referred to a period “before government got involved in such matters the canals, roads, bridges, ships, trains, dockyards …”, and so my response relates to what I believe would be the same period.

        • Jerry
          Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

          @Patrick Hurd; Any new standard gauge (or above, can’t leave IKB’s broad gauge out…) Railway built since the mid 1800s, the last one relevant to the point Mark B made was the GCR’s London Extension around the turn of 1900. Then of course, if I remember correctly, the M6 relief Toll-Motorway had to be authorised by an Act of Parliament.

      • Mark B
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Denis

        True. But what is also true is the point you made regarding my underlining point. And that is, government administrates but does not spend taxpayers money. ie It has no financial skin in the game and very little political one as well.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      How can private industry be expected to to provide cost effective power generation when the SavethePlanet Act 2008 is still on the statute book? The whole purpose of the UN SavethePlanet scam is to destroy industry in the West. Large sums of money are being paid to disreputable scientists to ‘prove’ that every climatic manifestation is entirely a consequence of human activity. This Act needs to be repealed urgently and replaced by law providing for egregious penalties for scientists who swing the lead and use their expert authority to procure and buttress falsehoods.

      • turboterrier
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        @ forthurst

        Is it not called Agenda 21?

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      Mark B ,

      It is wishful thinking to believe that railways were financed with private money .

      It is usually impossible to cash flow positive these projects at any realistic discount rate .

      The “business model” for transport projects/sports stadiums etc is usually a variation on the following :-

      1) entrepreneur buys up land and resources in a location which is not served by infrastructure , e.g. around where stations will be .

      2) entrepreneur proposes infrastructure project servicing this land/resources , obtains all approvals and ropes in political sponsors

      3) entrepreneur floats the fully permitted project .

      Private investors (the muppets) become the bag holders .

      4) The construction project inevitably gets into financial difficulty because the figures in the prospectus were fudged

      5) political sponsors have to rescue the project to save face with public money

      * Important *

      The entrepreneurs do not make their money from the infrastructure project . They make it from the uplift in land and resources which are connected to that infrastructure .

      • Mark B
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Sorry but on the one hand you say; “Private investors”, and on the other you mention; “Political Sponsors” ?

        I am talking about private capital and not a penny of taxpayers money. The job of government to make sure that markets are open, honest and fair. That people are given all the relevant information about their investment and, where there is a high risk, they are told before hand, Caveat emptor, I believe it is called.

        • A different Simon
          Posted September 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

          I mentioned “entrepreneurs” along with “private investors” and “political sponsors” .

          The “entrepreneurs” (promoters) sold the permitted projects onto a different set of people ; the “private investors” (pigeons) .

          I mention this because many of the examples of infrastructure projects you cite as being built with private money required public money to bail them out .

          Our railways are an example where the costs of building and financing could not be recovered from operating revenues .

          The taxpayer rescued the projects . The “private investors” lost their money .

          The “entrepreneurs” made their money on the uplift the completed infrastructure created in the value of land they bought surrounding the infrastructure project .

      • libertarian
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        A different Simon

        “It is wishful thinking to believe that railways were financed with private money”

        Really, try some actual history

        The railway system of Great Britain is the oldest in the world. The system was originally built as a patchwork of local rail links operated by small private railway companies. These isolated links developed during the railway boom of the 1840s into a national network, although still run by dozens of competing private companies.

        What you state as the way it operates now is entirely due to government interference and setting non cost effect parameters for planning consent

  3. Nig l
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    A second runway must proceed, the current delays are unacceptable and masses of jobs are and will be lost as carriers switch to, say, Schipol. I am sorry Mr Redwood, your constituents knew that there was a massive airport very close to them. Their choice, their consequences.

    HS 2 should still be scrapped unless there is a corresponding industrial policy to rebalance industry and commerce away from the south east which is over loaded, towards revitalising those places that are still struggling to replace their lost traditional industries. Hammond should be introducing aggressive tax breaks to encourage businesses to go there plus investing heavily in roads or more efficient rail freight networks.

    If HS 2 doesn’t support that scrap it send slender on the roads and ordinary rail networks.

    Hinckley is ridiculous. It is a political project to suck up to the Chinese with the guaranteed cost of electricity being excessive and coming straight out of my pocket over the next umpteen years. The cost of renewables is falling rapidly and battery storage on the cusp of a massive effucuency breakthrough. It will probably be a white elephan before it is finished, if it is finished because my guess is EDF will pull the plug, either through the unions or the design stages when the risk of cost overruns ns becomes too great.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      J.R. ,

      Nig1 is right that Hinkley is a political project , not an energy one .

      How about U.K. PLC just gives the Chinese £40 billion and tells them not to build the reactor ?

      Wouldn’t that be far more sensible ?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        It probably would be more sensible than building it and cheaper in the long run too.

      • Jerry
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        @ADS; In the long run, all things considered, it will be cheaper!

    • BOF
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      J.R. Fully agree with Nig1.

      Airport capacity is so critical that it really is necessary to build new runways at both Heathrow and Gatwick. ALSO BIRMINGHAM! Flying in and out of there I have found us in a queue for take off and landing!

      As for the other H’s, they are Dave and Gideon’s vanity projects and what I have been calling the product of collective insanity for years.

      HS2 is far too narrowly focused (even apart from the ludicrous cost) and will never address the problems of overcrowding on East Coast, West Coast and Southern. And what about the Great Central Line which would be a great boon for the North.

      Hinkley C is a huge, costly, tragic mistake and the ultimate in collective insanity.
      Call in the Japanese for higher output at half the cost in half the time.

  4. Fred
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    My guess is that all three will continue. They offer far too many fat cat directors salaries and consultancy fees for MPs to be cancelled merely because they make no economic sense.

    • Mark B
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Plus a lot of Civil Servant jobs.

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    “It would need to have ready a good list of other projects that could be smarter and yield better returns, with realistic and quicker deadlines for undertaking them.”

    In the case of Heathrow the “other project” would be expansion at Gatwick. Mrs May must know that a decision to proceed with Heathrow will mean years of legal obstruction and wrangling which will delay it until her successor cancels it.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Both are needed Gatwick could be achieved rather more quickly.

      • Jerry
        Posted September 21, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

        @LL; A new runway yes, all the other needed (transport) infrastructure no, also if you think Heathrow enlargement has a problem with NIMBY’s just wait until the Surrey/Sussex stock broker belt get in on the act come any serious talk of Gatwick expansion.

        Also why are you so concerned Mr Lifelogic, I seem to recall that you are not resident in the UK for (personal) tax purposes, you have never deigned this, so perhaps you could kindly stay out of UK politics, even more these sort of devolved infrastructure projects – just because you may or may no have business interests in England is irrelevant, so do EUropean companies…

  6. Jerry
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    If we need airport expansion in the south then Heathrow is the best and most logical choice [1] as it already has much of the required non-airport infrastructure (such as transport links) either already in place or being built, in fact only such expansion at Heathrow would make any financial sense with regards HS2 and only then if it was routed via Heathrow (which probably means it would have to terminate in or around Paddington rather than Euston) and thus allowing easy and fast connections to the north direct from the airport.

    I still think that HS2 should be scrapped though, the actual time saved between points by passengers is nothing significant, and with advances in providing on-board WiFi along with other telecoms technology etc. makes such small savings less important if business people can carry on working whilst on the train. The UK needs more and better fright (container) train capacity as I have said before, one of the benefits of this will be the rerouteing of much fright traffic off the WCML which then allows improvements in passenger service speeds or intervals. Speed is not so much the issue, frequency of trains and having a seat/table is.

    As for Hinckley C, lets be blunt, the current, even revised, funding proposals should be scrapped, if Hinckley is needed the government should trying to hide these sorts of costs off balance sheet by way of smoke and mirrors, this is a national infrastructure project, and a national (economic/safety) security issue and thus it should be funded directly by the tax payer.

    [1] and the suggestion, by at least one person who comments here, that some how Heathrow and Gatwick could share the air traffic/passenger load via some sort of “Heathwick” with a rapid transit system between the two, it would make HS2 (both cost and planing issues) look like building a new potting shed in the grounds of Buck’ House!

    • Jerry
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Oops, that should have read “if Hinckley is needed the government should STOP trying to hide these sorts of costs off balance sheet by way of smoke and mirrors”.

    • forthurst
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      HS2 is part of the TEN-T Core network which is sufficient grounds of itself for cancelling the project immediately. It is not now the responsibilty of the EU to draw lines on the map of the UK costing taxpayers large sums of money to be much better spent elsewhere: EU aggrandisement which we can well do without.

      • stred
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

        TEN-T is the reason why the rail chief designed it, the civil service is keen on it and the great majority of MPs and lords voted for it and will continue to do so. Why should they not, when they are quietly working towards a diluted Brexit or continuation in all but name. The fact that it is a total waste of taxpayers money is irrelevant and the billions wasted so far are an even better reason not to cancel. It will be someone else’s problem when it is finished.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Dear forthurst–Couldn’t agree more about the EU but it has to be said (and I have many times) that Scotland and the North of England will on any basis still want and need to sell to Europe and to my mind out of a many and strong field the competition for daftest decision is not joining HS2 to HS1, come what may. I can see no reason for the main drag to go into London, a junction somewhere just North of London doing the necessary and ideally fed by the resurrected Grand Central. Apart from the negligible number of people who might walk to Euston, everybody would have to travel to get there so no hardship to travel to Watford or wherever instead. Indeed for people starting from outside London, Watford would be easier to get to–no reason for the nightmare journey in to London in the first place. I find the talk about businessmen and their laptops unconvincing and the (short term) references to Birmingham, which is only a hop, skip and a jump away, even more so.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    In the case of HS2 just spending 5% of this sum on simpler quicker ticketing and minor improvements all over the network would proved 10 times the benefit for 5% of the outlay.

    The project is just as daft as Hinckley c but she flunked that decision.

    • Jerry
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      @LL; The problem with the WCML is not “ticketing and minor improvements” but line capacity, if you call either signalling (the need for safety headway clearances between trains) or platform length ‘minor improvements’ then you really do have a first clue with regards railway infrastructure requirements.

      Oh and UK governments have been ‘flunking’ the countries energy requirements and decisions since at least 1979, and is half the reason we’re in the current mess we are.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        The reason we are in the current mess with energy is the climate alarmist religion. Gas and coal are cheap quick to build and on demand. Without the Libdim green Cameron religion there is no problem.

        • Jerry
          Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          @LL; Rubbish, our problems pre date the climate alarmist religion, by a couple of decades! Of course had the UK politicos been as brave as the French were in the 1960s with their nuclear power programme…

          As for oil, gas and coal fired power stations being “on-demand”, not they are not, far from it unless the operators spend a fortune in keeping the boilers up to full working pressure and the turbines spinning (compared to nuclear).

          • Edward2
            Posted September 20, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

            Oil gas and coal fired are precisely the on demand power generators.
            Come on Jerry do your research.
            What do you think lies ticking over ready to keep the lights on when there is a cloudy day or a day without wind?

          • Jerry
            Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:25 am | Permalink

            @Edward2; Once again you try and argue, but all you have done is prove conclusively that you do not bother to read all that others say, for you to have said what you have above you could not have bothered to read a single word of my second paragraph! 🙄

            Compared to nuclear, coal, oil and gas are very expensive to keep on standby. Come on Eddy, do your research….

      • acorn
        Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

        When your government leaves everything to “market forces” for three and a half decades, you end up where the UK is today, a long way behind our continental neighbours, in every component of our primary infrastructure.

        Thatcher’s “no such thing as society”, has its consequences for 99% of UK society.

        As far as airports go, frequent shuttle services from UK regional airports to Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris Charles De Gaulle, would be much easier than years of commission enquiries; Punch and Judy debates in Westminster; local planning enquiries that will be overruled by regional planning inspectors etc etc.

        HS2. Recently, I travelled on a double decker train across the south of France. If you want to know how to run a modern railway, ask the French.

        Hinkley C. The Areva EPR reactor is what you would build if you lived in post tsunami Japan. Hinkley will be the forth attempt at trying to get one of these rigs fired up. The Chinese one will probably be the first. EDF/Areva, needs the money from Hinkley.

        If we left it to the Chinese, desperately trying to spend some of their foreign currency reserves, they would build a version of the Westinghouse AP1000, probably the China-AP1400. As I understand it, our nuclear regulator is insisting on good old “Electro-Mechanical Relays” for primary protection systems. Hard wired with no computers to get hacked.

  8. Ian Wragg
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Chances are that TM will dither over Heathrow and sign up to Hinckley Point and HS2. Both of the latter are financially ruinous but hey ho it’s only taxpayers money.
    Even the boss of EDF isn’t that confident on the success of the EPR technology ever working. It looks like Flammville may be abandoned as the problems are phenomenal.
    Where does that leave us in 10 years with the whitest of white elephants and all the political class suckling on the teat of public money.
    Still no advance on Brexit. Another 5000 EU nationals arriving weeky.

  9. Richard1
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    That’s a bit of a cop out on Heathrow! It is abundantly clear more airport capacity is needed. The benefit of this is as obvious as that eg for Crossrail. I can understand that MPs with constituencies to the west of London have to tread carefully, but as with shale gas fracking, there is a time when MPs have to explain to people that the threat’s nearly as bad as environmental campaigners make out, and there is an overwhelming economic and business case for it. There are no good reasons not to proceed with Heathrow expansion.

    It is essential the Govt puts a boot behind BT to get decent broadband rolled out. This requires a breakup of BT-Openreach and competition in provision. A fraction of The HS2 money would babe better spent on roads and commuter rail lines, as is also quite obvious. Mrs May needs to show some action. It’s right to analyse things, but drift and delay is costly.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      The threat of airport expansion is NOT nearly as bad as environmental leftists make out! Apologies

    • Antisthenes
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      However much evidence you produce to prove that environmentalist’s claims are erroneous they will not listen. Green is a religion and on any such communication they will retreat into la la land.

      Politicians for all their flaws deserve much sympathy when it comes to them having to deal with their constituents with their often misplaced perceptions of what is right and wrong and what is preferable to what is not. Objective evidence based thinking is not an attribute that predominates in the population. When it does often prejudice and bias tends to skew it so even then the correct conclusion is not arrived at. None of us are immune. We must all doubt our views as it would be rare indeed if we were completely neutral in acquiring them.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Well his constituency is a bit close to Heathrow. We need one at both Gatwick and Heathrow.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    More airport capacity a no brainer, but a new airport needs to be to the east of London, at the same time a second runway at Gatwick is needed and perhaps another at Stanstead, but what about the rest of the UK, why just London ?

    Hinckley point far too expensive, unproven design, too long until operation. Cancel it and build more simple power generators with proven design, technology and cost.

    HS2, Pointless cancel it and spend the money on upgrading more track throughout the UK.

    • sm
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      Stansted is doing very well, but runway expansion would need a far better train service into London than currently exists – I live nearby, so I know!

  11. Ed Mahony
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Spot on.

  12. Bert Young
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    There have been so many adverse comments on the 3 Hs during the time of John’s blog another from me today seems pointless .Infrastructure investment definitely yes ; bolstering the economy definitely yes , reducing the deficit definitely yes – and so on . In each case one expects there to be a careful consideration of all the ingredients – including that of public opinion , however in the case of HS2 and Hinkley this is not so .

    This Government has to show a clear policy of determination and common sense if it is to receive public support ; at the moment there appears to be dithering and uncertainty . Everything depends on the quality of its leadership ; Theresa has to pull her socks up .

  13. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    “All these are needed for industrial revival, for better lives, and to keep pace with the big expansion of population that has occurred in recent years.”

    Which makes it difficult to draw up true accounts for the economic costs and benefits of unlimited and uncontrolled mass immigration.

    • Jerry
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      @Denis Cooper; Trouble with that sort of argument for many is that most if not all of these problems pre-date the period of supposed “unlimited and uncontrolled mass immigration”, we have known that we would need a ‘Hinckley C’ (there or at some other location), for 30 and more years, whilst there has been transport infrastructure problems in the UK for 40 plus years.

      For example, Stansted had been identified, by both the BAA and government, as the third London airport since the mid to late 1960s, thus 50 years on the UK is still bickering about airport expansion whilst our near neighbours get on and build. Same story on the railways, APT (and BR…) get dumped by the wayside, the French state owned railways not only build the TGV but also obtain funding to build new high speed rail lines, as does the state owned German railways.

      What ever mass immigration we have or have not had has done nothing, other than exasperate the pre-existing issues, problems that the planners and politicos you defend have failed to get a grip on in all the many years before.

  14. Antisthenes
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Except on rare occasions how our infrastructure needs are decided and paid for should not be by government. That is the job of the private sector who will decide by applying economic soundness tests to any project. If the private sector does not wish to finance and build a project without a government subsidy then that project is not being done for optimal reasons. Hinkley is one such project on that basis that should not go ahead. HS2 would appear to be another. A third runway apparently is an unknown. I suspect though that it does pass the test and should and will go ahead.

    Infrastructure spending by government has another disadvantage. Government finds the money for projects by diverting money away from the private sector which is a much more efficient user of money. Government is wasteful and inefficient so investment by it means return on investments is considerably less than it should be. The increasing of GDP by government it brings is matched by the decreasing of GDP by the private sector. Probably more than matched because the private sector would have used the money more productively.

    Political and social consideration do have a part to play in deciding infrastructure spending. Under normal circumstances that would be infrequently. However we do not live under normal circumstances as we have decided on following a socialising path. In consequence government if it wishes to survive the contentment of it’s citizens is put above the need of economic prudence. Despite that is does appear to work after a fashion. For how long as contentment is a voracious beast? Only time will tell.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    The Hinkley review gave the impression that common sense might be applied. Sadly, we got more of the same. A government that can commit to such a project, which has no developed commercial plant, several overruns on time and expenditure in other counties and a collosal charge on consumers for 35 years, has serious flaws in its thinking. HS2 has always been a vanity project and is another collosal waste of money with little benefit. Far more could be done to improve railways acrooss the country with such an amount. Airport expansion in the South of England has just become a question of politics in those immediate areas.
    In short, government is poor at choosing and delivering good capital investment projects.

  16. James Munroe
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    What happened about the UK’s ‘security issues’ you mention about Hinkley?

    Was the carpet lifted and a very large broom, used to sweep away all the worries that must not be talked about?

  17. Vanessa
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I think Hinckley Point will be a disaster. It is much too expensive, the electricity is ludicrously expensive and the technology is untried and untested. Finland has a similar nuclear power station which has been riddled with delays and problems and costs. The nuclear power stations being built in the United Arab Emirates by North Korea are cheaper, £15 billion rather than £18 billion and rising and they are using tried and tested technology which works.

    On HS2, this should be scrapped as well. Similarly much too expensive, we are now told that the ground they are proposing to build this white elephant on cannot support the sorts of speed envisaged. It should be built on rock for this sort of speed not on soft, shifting ground. Millions of tons of concrete will have to be poured into the ground to support this speed leading to floods and ruin of the beauty of the area. Cameron’s government was like a 2-year old being offered lots of new toys !!

    Brexit negotiations are much more important to get right rather than spending all this money on idiotic dreams.

    • Vanessa
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Sorry, should be SOUTH Korea !

  18. Shieldsman
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Whether Heathrow (UK’s only Hub airport) is granted permission for another runway or not, it will continue to operate for the next twenty years or more. There is no possibility that a suitable replacement Hub Airport with planning permission, funding, and all the infrastructure can be built in that time.

    What is the point in spending millions of pounds on enquiries and Commissions which Parliament to appease local MP’s and their lobby groups then ignores.

    In the dim dark past we had Roskill (1970’s) which offered alternative sites (of which there were many at that time) to replace Heathrow, which came to nought. The recent Davies Commission costing many millions of pounds found in favour of a third runway at Heathrow. (see BBC News – Airport expansion: What happens next? 1 July 2015, over a year ago). Davies rejected Boris Island and did not offer any alternative sites.

    Any major International airport must have two runways and Gatwick does not qualify. It has operated for over twenty years with a taxiway serving as an emergency runway.

    The simple logical fact is that both Heathrow and Gatwick require at least one additional runway. The Government and Parliament are not living in the 21st Century.

  19. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    It time to tax companies gross and them to pay workers taxes and see how they get on with wasting their own money on bankers and a like and the people to have what they want on there money and pay subsides to themselves. They are just a load of dead weight and incapable of doing anything, the thing they really want is a million people a year coming into the country so they can put some more money into their back pockets and pay no tax and now they want to take over the peoples treasury with their own court and close down more people services and pay the money to themselves, where do you think parliament gets all its ideas from as the people lose out time and time again.

    Do the people ever get a say as they run round like gods on money for nothing.

  20. adam
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It would make sense to cancel anything to do with this interdependence religion in the aftermath of Brexit. So the Chinese nuclear deal, clearly a political stunt, should be dropped for the time being.

    Also HS2 is obviously an EU project. Out of respect for Brexit that should be cancelled. It wont be of course.

    It would be nice to see government officials capable of coming up with their own ideas.

  21. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I’ve just been reading this FT article about the threats being uttered against us by one of our lovely “European partners”:

    https://www.ft.com/content/858a3fbc-7cf3-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4

    “Slovakia says Europe will make Brexit ‘very painful’ for UK”

    And remembering the days when the Tories spun the yarn that it would be great to have the Eastern Europeans in the EU because they would be “natural allies” for the UK.

    Well, yes, provided that we allow all their citizens to come and live in our country, while also subsidising their countries, and buy more stuff from them than the other way round, and also allow them to chip in on how our country will be governed.

    And this under EU treaties that include an Article 8 TEU on the EU’s “neighbourhood policy”, which some of their politicians seem ready to disregard if we have the temerity to say that it is all a little unbalanced, they cannot expect to have their cake and eat it.

    http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-european-union-and-comments/title-1-common-provisions/6-article-8.html

    “The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.”

  22. English Pensioner
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I take the view that if a commercial organisation is not interested in building them without a subsidy in one form or another they should not be built, and certainly not by non-UK companies. At least a subsidy to a UK company remains in the country.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Indeed getting rid of all subsidies for green crap, trains, renewables, nuclear and the rest would broadly be a good plan. Let the market tell us what works in the main with a few exceptions.

  23. The Active Citizen
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Heathrow – Yes.
    Hinckley Point – No.
    HS2 – No.

    Next?

    More seriously, we need an extra runway at Heathrow and another one at Gatwick.
    Hinckley is absurd for reasons of cost, unreliability, foreign investment and ownership, security, technology risks, and other reasons.
    HS2 was always a ridiculous political project.

    Now those questions are resolved, maybe Mrs May could focus on delivering the Leave decision of the British people without fuss.

    • Jerry
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Apologies if this is broadly repeating what I have already said way up.

      @TAC; Trouble is, a new runway is just the beginning, what about all the associated infrastructure required to service the increased airport capacity – build a new runway at Gatwick and the cost is tripled at least by the need to (re)build the existing non airport local and not so local infrastructure. With the exception of direct access to HS1 Heathrow either mostly has the infrastructure already in place or it is in the process of being built.

      • Edward2
        Posted September 20, 2016 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

        Progress eh Jerry
        Most annoying

        • Jerry
          Posted September 21, 2016 at 6:56 am | Permalink

          @Edward; I have no problems with ‘progress’, but I suspect you and others would have problems with the final cost of building and (more importantly) facilitating the needs of a second runway at Gatwick.

          Also if we want ‘progress’ and cost (monitory or environmental) is to be no object then perhaps we should think about “BoJo’s” Thames island again!

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted September 25, 2016 at 1:31 am | Permalink

            Why should airport expansion be financed by taxpayers?

  24. JamesG
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Sizewell B was on budget and on time. As all the engineering is already done we could simply have carried on with that design (as originally planned) at a rough cost of £4 billion each 1.2GW station rather than the EPR that is over-budget and late everywhere else, is crazily expensive even from the outset and which the UK taxpayer will end up finishing off anyway after EDF goes bust.

    • stred
      Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      The main reason that we can’t just build more of the successful and economical Sizewell B station is regulation. Every country has its own regulator and these watch each other’s standards, which are increased continually. For example, the EPR for Hinkley is supposed to withstand an aircraft crashing on the reactor. There is no learning experience for new standards and so some designs adopt very expensive solutions.

      Then each country does its own GDA or assessment and this takes at least 5 years. The UK regulator will not accept, for example, that the US and other reliable regulators have approved the Toshiba AP1000 reactor already but we must wait until 2017 before they can make a start on the one expected for Cumbria.

      Perhaps the civil servants have told Mrs May that no other reactor other than the EPR is approved and ready, even though in practice it has been under construction in France, Finland and China and none of these countries have chosen to build another one. Or that Korean, Japanese and Russian reactors have been approved and successfully built and sold in many other countries. Here it would take years for the regulator to approve these.

      Other than the need for the regulators to keep their well paid jobs for life, it is difficult to understand why they can take so long. The reason that politicians are unwilling to instruct them to speed up the process must be fear of Green people calling them irresponsible and threatening to destroy Mother Earth. No amount of factual logic ever persuades such large numbers otherwise. Of course it also suits large companies to hold competition back.

      Ideally, there would be a world regulation authority in which all countries participated, making the whole process safer and cheaper.

  25. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Like the post-Referendum political scrum, we are again in the realms of : ” What did we and what do we actually mean by…?”

    I seem to remember a committee of cross-party MPs sat at some expense on a regular basis covering all aspects of Hinkley.

    With HS2, surely Mr Cameron did not awake one fine morning and give us a revelation that he had in the middle of the night: “a vision” and that some representative of a deity had come to him and said: “I beseech you, go forth and plonketh a whizz-bang paved way to Heaven right through the British countryside, fearing not disturbances of the fowls of the Earth and the fishies of the flooding. ” In short, the idea of HS2 was discussed at length and a decision made.

    Heathrow? Enough talking surely? Either drop the idea or proceed.

    Out politics are being sandbagged by lack of acceptance of democratic decisions.

    Most trade deals, building projects on grand scales cannot necessarily be analysed as units of pennies on one side of the scale or the other. They are complicated deals which encourage other deals and progressions. So let’s sign “article 50” as it were for not just Brexit but also HS2, Hinkley and Heathrow. Let us get on it with it!

  26. Bryan Harris
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Hinkley – all risk is with Fench/Chinese – Yes consumers will pay a high price but that comes with a high risk project like this

    New airport runway – not sure why this has to be Heathrow – I still like the Boris idea, but Gatwick would be less disruptive

    HS2 – Important but could be scaled back a bit and with longer timescales

    BREXIT – John – what do you think of this piece by Peter Lilley: http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/09/peter-lilley-brexit-should-be-swift-heres-how-to-do-it.html

  27. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Corporation, companies and so called experts are stealing off the public left right and centre aided by parliament and the country only in debt because of them, you pay for their R/D other wises they would not bother, you put all the money up and they just sit back and take all the profit with profit hidden by accountant so they pay no tax, the people have to pay for all their clean up costs like north sea oil 30 billion up to date to take down all the riggers and pipe lines and cap off the wells with billions a year in subsidies going to oil companies and countries so they can drill for oil and high taxes on you on your fuel to pay for it, hinkley will cost more to decommission than it than will cost to build, all down to the taxpayer, when you take all there taxes together which mainly paid by small companies who do not get a lot of subs, they are getting multiple times of money out of the taxpayer than they put in, bankers are robbing you blind again with the help of parliament.

    Most of the companies are now owned by oversea companies and pension funds and the people own next to nothing except for the one%, when the parliament say we are open for business, what they mean is everything is subsidies for you, you can have as many cheap oversea workers as you like plus you not have to pay any tax hear you take all back home with you and on top of that if you want buy any thing we will sell it to you at knock down price and you can do any thing like with the assets like land, building and companies and we in parliament will approve it so you can take money back home tax free.

    Any body would think that i am a communist or a marxist reading this but i am just pointing out the facts, it the parliament that is marxist against the people and run by the devil children behind the senses.

    I see mrs may going to the un to talk about refugees coming in, try to get the law changed, just wasting more money talking BS making out she for the people, look what i am trying to do for you, she been the one letting them all in for big business, she says we can not handle it any more, do not worry about it mrs may, when the people arrive in parliament they will have it all reverse and put right with un just looking on.

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    A fascinating series of papers just published by the Fabian Society:

    http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/FABJ4808_Europe_Report_130916_WEB_2.pdf

    “Facing the unknown”

    Most of the authors seem to have undergone a post-referendum Damascene conversion about mass immigration and freedom of movement in the EU.

    It may help Theresa May to see things aright if the Labour Party officially accepts the recommendations from Rachel Reeves:

    “Immigration controls and ending free movement has to be a red line post-Brexit – otherwise we will be holding the voters in contempt. Subject to that, we need the
    greatest possible access that we can get to the single market without free movement.”

    and Emma Reynolds:

    “However, it is my strong view that no future deal can retain free movement of people in its present form. We must argue for restrictions while getting the best possible economic deal in the circumstances. This won’t be as good as the status quo but leave voters clearly
    said that their concerns about immigration trumped their worries about the economic
    cost of leaving.”

    Which has some substance, given that:

    “Just because 48 per cent voted with Europhiles, it doesn’t follow that 48 per cent are Europhiles. In fact, 44 per cent of remain voters think it is essential that immigration is reduced, with only 20 per cent disagreeing”

    according to another contributor.

    However I don’t think there’s much mileage in the suggestion from Stephen Kinnock:

    “The only way Theresa May can resolve the Brexit dilemma is to negotiate a panEuropean
    agreement on reducing freedom of movement, as a pre-cursor to negotiating the new terms of our access to the single market. Our prime minister is supposedly a tough and accomplished negotiator. For our country’s sake, she must now prove it.”

    That approach has been tried, without success.

  29. adam
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    How about banning Charity muggers.

    As a wealthy nation we are being prayed on.

    I cant understand why the rest of you like being accosted for your money every time you go down the high street.

  30. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    With birth rates starting to hit one million a year soon and people coming into the country at a rate of 400,00 a year with illegals coming in, that about 1.4 million people a year with on average 500.000 people a year that die and going up with parliament help. it about 850.000 extra people net a year, that 1.3 per cent growth in people a year which will double the population in 60 years to 130 million people in this country, we ready have next no services left with parliament and council cutting everything they can and selling everything they can to pay for it, in another 20 years with hotter summers most of england will putting stand pipers in streets to ration water and land fills will be full and shanty towns will be going up all over the country, getting on to the road or a train will be a no go and getting into a hospital or school will be a thing of the past and as for care in your old age you can forget it it all shutting down now and with council spending most of their money on pension and wages their will be no money for services and are now going to one month bin collection this year.

    How they are going to get all the fuel in food and goods i do not know, housing you can forget it, they would have to build as many houses as they have now and even that would leave millions of people with no proper housing as now, the green belt will be gone as they sell it off to the chinese to do what they like with, can you imagine all electric, water, bricks, sand and every thing they are going needs and as they going forward with prices going up as things become hard to get hold of and start running out.

    They have no money now and have no idea how to get money apart from printing it out of thin air for corporation and big companies who live off the taxpayers with the elite and experts who are waste of time and keep telling you with the media that they know what they are doing, i can tell you they not got a clue what they are doing and are just getting as much out of the system as they can with parliaments help, the debts will get bigger and bigger and they running out of cuts to services to make and still running at over 77 billions a year debt which can only go up in the long run.

    If you do take control of parliament soon, you will have nothing left, you be lucky if you be able to feed yourselves let a loan a roof over your head, you are slipping into a third world country already and if you listen to your MP you will doomed.

  31. Atlas
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Quick answer to John’s question:

    Yes !!

  32. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Off Topic:
    Baron Kinnock ( Socialist ,74 ) says there will not be another Labour government in his lifetime. Another Labour pie in the sky promise.

    • Jerry
      Posted September 21, 2016 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      @CH; I believe Kinnock was referring to “New Labour”, and I suspect he is correct, but that says nothing about there being any more traditional Labour governments – hence why the right wing MSM and others are jumping up and down trying to vilify Mr Corbyn and supporters.

  33. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I keep hearing we have to protected ourselves from russia and build a big army against them or they will take us over, you have nothing, no land to grow food, oil running out, debts up to your eye balls, you are a fail state. If russia wanted to do something they do not have to a attack you they just have to cut off the oil and gas and gains like wheat and that you done, you will last for a while as the prices go up but that will be the end of you, it would all be hard for russia but as we know they are mostly self sufficient, the usa food production is going down the same as oz and the eu because of weather and water.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      An EU army will be to control the EU people. Nothing else.

  34. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I am now getting ready for hinkley to not go on my bill, some one else can pay for it and if it blows up because turn out that it bad tec, i live far away from it and be able get out before it hits me and as we saw in japan one big sea storm and all waste from it will go into the sea and that apart them having control over your electric like a kill stwich with massive prices on people electric to come and being able to tell what to do or else no ele.

  35. ian
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Hinkley costs, it already going to cost 30 billion to build with over runs and so on, with inflation for 35 years if open that will double to 60 billion and with clean up costs and decommissioning another 30 billion that 90 billion pounds, with solar costs coming down to 4000 pounds per house and getting cheap as you go you could of fitted 21 million houses with solar for 90 billion and and more as the price when down so most house would of not needing ele apart from big households who use more electric, that would of been free electric for most people in the country with loads more electric left over for business and transport. not a brain between them.

  36. Mark
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    It may seem remarkable, but in fact there seems to have been no growth in the number of aircraft landings and takeoffs for the past several years – and they remain somewhat below the peak numbers of 2007. An increase in the average size of aircraft has catered for the modest growth in passenger numbers, while air freight tonnage has remained essentially flat since 2000. This suggests that runway capacity is not a constraint – and may not become one unless government decides to promote air travel by cutting APD.

    HS2 is unequivocally a white elephant that should be cancelled before it swallows up more in consultancy and management fees. Evidently its CEO thought it not worth staying.

    Hinkley should have been replaced by alternative nuclear technology that is much cheaper than the EPR, and proven. The AP1000 based design being put forward for Moorside is less than half the price, and is proven and working: learning curve effects through building a series of reactors to the same design would also help to lower costs – something that cannot be achieved with the present plans to award nuclear contracts to a variety of different, bespoke designs. Should we build nuclear? Yes, so long as it can be done at reasonable cost, requiring little or no subsidy – it offers a hedge against rising fuel prices, since nuclear fuel is a very small element of the cost of nuclear power, and it offers reliable baseload and helps ensure grid stability through providing physical inertia in its generators.

    We should also have cancelled that other “H” – the Hornsea windfarm that was recently given a green light at a subsidised indexed price currently £148.06/MWh – around 50% more than Hinkley Point. We need cheap energy, not expensive power sources such as this.

    I don’t think it is for government to direct investment by picking expensive projects which later have to be subsidised or written off at taxpayer expense: rather, it is for government to create the conditions in which profitable investment in sensible projects goes ahead.

  37. Chris
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Boris Island yes.
    Hinkley Point no.
    HS2 no.

    To provide extra runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick is a very short term measure and within a few years there would be a clamour for another runway, probably at both of them. There is already very great congestion and pressures on infrastructure around Heathrow and another runway would result in the infrastructure almost seizing up with massive congestion unsustainable pressures being put on housing etc, not to mention the effects on those who live on flight paths. I live in the next door constituency to John Redwood’s, and the changed flight paths/heights of flights have had a great impact on our local environment/quality of life (no consultation, and still no remedial action despite Mr Redwood’s best efforts).

    A grand project such as Boris Island could provide a huge boost to our economy and revolutionise our airport capacity etc. A huge contrast to the uncalled for HS2 project, which was merely part of an EU proscribed rail network/system which was not tailored to the particular needs/requirements of the UK but instead ticking a box/fulfilling requirements of the EU grand design for the rail network for the superstate of 28+ countries.

    B I would also certainly provide almost a morale booster to this country, which has been progressively worn down by more mind numbing bureaucracy and legislation imposed on us by Brussels. It would be a great “flagship” policy, and could give us a huge boost in our standing, showing that we can provide something world class.

    I suspect that as an interim measure another runway will have to be provided at one of the London airports, but surely not at Heathrow which is already “overdeveloped” in terms of what the surrounding area can sustain.

    • anon
      Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Heathrow – possibly runways at other airports around first.

      Boris Island – medium term-probably good to invite international partners to invest and send a message we are open for business.

      We can then cancel Hinkley for other more suitable projects which deliver quicker and cheaper. i.e within 2-5 years.

      HS2 is already obsolete consider the impact of driverless tech. Spend on roads, bridges, and infrastructure so we can increase trade with the ROW .

      We have to exit the EU and EU laws to free us from the tentacles of prior policies.

  38. LondonBob
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Heathrow and Hinckley are particularly daft, HS2 too. Heathrow is in the wrong place and can never act as a true hub, actually we have spare capacity until2040, at least, so there is no rush, Stanstead should be expanded in the long term. Gas makes more sense than Hinckley which will hobble Bristish industry and consumers for decades to come. Incremental improvements make more sense than HS2.

  39. NickC
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Hinckley C – Cancel it. However at £92.50 (2012) per MWhr it is a bargain compared to the CfD auction prices for offshore Wind that I last saw of £117 per MWhr (Feb 2015). Nuclear is always on; Wind is intermittent. Having worked in a related industry it wouldn’t surprise me if the regulatory regime hasn’t doubled the Hinckley C costs, as well as making the plant less safe.

    HS2 – Cancel it. HS2 will not benefit the North or the Midlands; only London will “gain”.

    Heathrow – Expand Luton, Gatwick and Stanstead before Heathrow.

  40. turboterrier
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    No wonder we all despair when we read these comments on a daily basis because of the fact that they make sense and as usual the politicians at the top table just carry on as they have always done because in reality they do not give a stuff.

    Sadly John there are not too many like you and those that are, are relegated to the back benches.

  41. old salt
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    The £18bn (for starters) Hinkley Point nuclear plant will probably be overtaken by a host of cheaper technologies. Solar will be so advanced and increasingly cheaper with storage and safer by the time Hinkley (will it ever work) comes on line and risks degenerating into an epic white elephant as we pay fat subsidies into the second half of the 21st Century.

    The French-built EPR reactors Hinkley Point are a refinement on an inherently dangerous technology from the 1950s, and it is the cost of trying to make them absolutely ‘Fukushima-proof’ that is so crippling

    Just how much uranium fuel is available with so many nuclear stations being built around the world with all the inevitable consequences e.g. control of security of diminishing supply etc. in the decades to come?

    And who will bear the cost of the eventual clean up when the time comes not to mention any accidents which can and do happen.

    With so many foreign countries vested interests involved where will all the profits go? Leaving the country even deeper in debt. Same with the EU’s TEN T HS2. Are they paying for it with our taxes? With the profit motive of foreign companies involved the safety aspect will obviously be in question. Sellafield safety is already in question according to a recent TV programme.

    On a political front the need for more energy should decrease or at least not increase to such an extent once immigration is reduced as promised years ago combined with increased efficiency usage over time.

    Just what is our government up to effectively still selling our sovereignty and what happens if the financial status of EDF becomes questionable or worse not to mention the political status or relationship with China and others following leadership and other unforeseen changing circumstances over the decades to come not to mention home grown and other terrorist issues?

    Present difficulties stem from our system of successive governments over the past decades. Dumping our coal fired stations when others building. Whatever happened to our nuclear industry?

    I understand we are paying for a sufficient quantity of diesel generators to be on standby, and being paid for, for use when the wind doesn’t blow the right speed thus ramping up the cost and diesel pollution. (the STOR programme) I read somewhere the life of sea based wind units have a life of around only 10 years due to the environment. Living by the sea I am well aware of the corrosive effects of the salty air even some hundreds of yards inland.
    http://www2.nationalgrid.com/uk/services/balancing-services/reserve-services/short-term-operating-reserve/

    This madness has to stop or we will end up like Greece being sold stuff they couldn’t afford and support and now being subjugated from afar with no end in sight and worse.

  42. StevenL
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Judicious? Isn’t that too big a word for The Sun?

  43. Chris S
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve commented repeatedly about these three numerous times.

    Needless to say all thrèe should be dropped but other than say we desperately need a comprehensive road building program, I’m not going to repeat the arguments over new airport capacity or securing reliable new energy capacity.

  44. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted September 19, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Is there some reason why we should not buy American nuclear power plants? Are they particularly dangerous?
    Safety with a capital “S” appears as a secondary consideration to our UK Establishment. Most of them live in America. A Ruling Class…not here. Why not buy American?

  45. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Yes, no and yes.

    Gatwick is preferable to Heathrow because it can be delivered and need not cost taxpayers much. Incidntally, why not scrap the BAA and let airports compete with each other?

    Hinkley Point is surely now unstoppable; Bradwell too. Nevertheless, we need to limit foreign ownership and control of strategic assets and infrastructure. Don’t sell a majority stake in National Grid and don’t let the London Stock Exchange merge with its German counterpart. And I think two nuclear power stations will be enough.

    If HS2 is a White Elephant – as HS1 was – don’t build it. What would be the customer base and the fares policy? Presumably some sort of business class.

    With these decisions, and scrapping our £14 billion per annum net cash contribution to the EU, we can afford a sensible package of transport measures – better signalling and longer platforms on London stations, improved road junction capacity, selected widening of motorways and more cycleways.

  46. rk
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Great post title!

    Heathrow Expansion I would suggest is the odd one out of the three.

    I think the government will do what it thinks is best on HS2 and Hinckley Point…

    But Heathrow Expansion is purely political at this stage… and with only a majority of 12 it’s hard to see how TM can afford to alienate MPs in her own party… and risk losing her FS and Education Secretary.

  47. Antisthenes
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Another excellent article from Mises Daily https://mises.org/blog/post-brexit-boom-baffling-elites. Tearing to shreds Brexit doomsayers and recent BoE actions. Well worth the read reinforcing much of what you and some of us say on the subject.

  48. Anonymous
    Posted September 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    We could scrap HS2 and build 10 Hinckley Points with the money saved.

    The country will not thank the political class if it goes ahead with this folly.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page