Belfast Telegraph

HS2 cash injection for Northern Ireland economy

By Paul Gosling

The proposed High Speed 2 train line in Great Britain could provide a large cash boost for the Northern Ireland Executive if the scheme goes ahead.

Under the so-called Barnett Formula, Northern Ireland could |receive around £1.3bn as compensation for not benefiting directly from the project.

The Barnett Formula is the mechanism for distributing funding to the three devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This is based on population, with an adjustment according to population distribution and the higher cost of servicing a largely rural |population.

If High Speed 2 goes ahead, it will provide a new, faster, link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds — and potentially on to Scotland. The total cost, including new rolling stock, is likely to be in region of £50bn. The coalition government remains committed to the project, although |opposition is growing.

The Welsh government has made a case for obtaining what is called a ‘Barnett consequential’ payment if the line is built, though the UK Government has responded that the line would benefit Wales and so no ‘Barnett consequential’ would be |required. It is difficult to see how any similar argument could be put forward for Northern Ireland and the Department for Finance and Personnel confirmed that it will seek what is in effect a compensation payment.

A spokeswoman for DfP said: “The Northern Ireland Executive should receive Barnett consequentials in relation to the planned HS2 project, provided that this will be funded from Capital DEL [the departmental expenditure limit for the UK’s Department of Transport].

If the Barnett consequential are allocated in line |with those flowing from spending on London for last year’s Olympics, Northern Ireland would receive around £1.3bn.

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