Campaigners critisise time given to scrutinise HS2 documents

Reports that campaigners have criticised the government for the length of time they have to respond to a consultation on the environmental impact statement for the High Speed Two rail project feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times (subscription)
reports that campaign group The Woodland Trust has hired a new member of staff to read through the government’s 50,000-page High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill and an accompanying environmental impact statement which were published yesterday. The newspaper says that countryside campaigners have complained that they "would scarcely have time" to read the documents in time to respond to a formal consultation on the environmental impact statement, which closes on 24 January 2014. It quotes Campaign to Protect Rural England campaigner Ralph Smyth saying: "A 56-day formal consultation period for 50,000 pages of documents means you would need to read 1,000 pages a day just to know what is proposed."

The Telegraph quotes a Department for Transport spokesman saying the time campaigners have to respond "compares very favourably to the 21 days and 28 days that are the minimum requirements for planning applications".

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has said that gypsies should not be able to "dominate" rural villages near their camps, the Telegraph also reports. The newspaper says that Pickles "indicated that the number of travellers at a legal site should never exceed the size of the local population". It adds that Pickles suggested that the coalition is "considering introducing additional powers that would ease the burden on communities caused by unauthorised developments and camps".

The Guardian reports that penthouse apartments in the redevelopment of Battersea power station "are to go on the market at £30 million each, compounding warnings that the booming London property market is becoming the preserve of a monied elite". The newspaper says that the announcement by the project's Malaysian backers "undermined a pledge by Boris Johnson to advertise all new homes to Londoners first".

In a letter to the Independent, charities warn that moves to cut green levies in an effort to reduce energy bills "would backfire by harming the most vulnerable and driving up the cost of gas and electricity". The newspaper says that in the letter "more than 90 major charities and businesses argue that cutting energy efficiency measures could increase fuel poverty as it will become more expensive to heat draughty homes. They also point out that green schemes help create jobs and foster economic growth".

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