It does seem extraordinarily ironic that the government should choose today to launch the Green Deal and simultaneously announce more news on the HS2 routes from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. There's no doubt which project will draw the headlines. HS2 is expensive, futuristic and sexy, if you like train sets. The Green Deal is a cinderella story in comparison, all about replacing boilers and stuffing insulation into lofts.
But what boggles me is that whilst preaching austerity to all and sundry, the government still sees fit to fork out £32billion on HS2 as an "engine of growth." There will also be a very generous compensation scheme, all paid for by us, the taxpayer. Yet the business case for HS2 is very weak, almost everybody agrees. If the business case was stronger, then no doubt it would suck in private money. But no, there is no private money involved at all, not even via the Private Finance Initiative. This is plain vanilla government spending.
Contrast it to what is happening with our energy infrastructure. Everyone agrees that it needs tonnes of money spent on it because what we have is knackered. Even those who think global warming is a tissue of lies and decry our carbon reduction commitments have to admit that we need shed loads of new power stations just to stand still and keep the lights on. Is the government seeing fit to throw £32billion at the problem? No way. The Green Deal is arguably much more important than HS2, but it's funded by the end user by way of a loan, topped up if they are lucky with a little with help from surcharges on other peoples' energy bills.
Next time you hear someone say that we can't afford to decarbonise the grid because it's "too expensive", just ask compared to what? HS2?