The Times (subscription required) reports that the cost of delivering London’s proposed underground Crossrail 2 route has risen by one-third to £27.5 billion. The newspaper says a report by consultant PwC gave the scheme a price-tag of almost double the £15 billion cost of the east-west Crossrail route, which is due to open in four years time. The Financial Times (subscription only) said PwC’s viability research had found that half of Crossrail 2’s cost could be met by fares, business rates and a mayoral Community Infrastructure Levy. PwC envisaged the scheme being ready by 2030 – later than infrastructure operator Transport for London’s estimate.
The Financial Times (subscription required) also includes news that powers over shale gas fracking would be devolved to the Scottish government under cross-party proposals published by the Smith Commission yesterday. It says the Green Party in particular has welcomed the transfer of responsibility for onshore oil, gas and mineral extraction, but that there is no sign that the current Scottish government would stop fracking entirely.
The Times (subscription required) reports that chancellor George Osborne will announce that plans for a road tunnel under Stonehenge are back on the table as part of his Autumn Statement next week. According to the Financial Times (subscription required) the tunnel for the A303 will be part of a £15 billion package of nationwide road improvements.
The Guardian reports that London’s £4 billion Thames Tideway sewer tunnel has been described as a "waste of money for very limited benefit" by one of a panel of experts who originally supported the scheme. It said professor Chris Binnie believed technology had moved on to such an extent over the past decade that the capital’s existing system could be used to better advantage.
The Guardian also carries news that more than one-quarter of English local authorities have used the coalition government’s Sustainable Communities Act to call on ministers to block the clustering of betting shops on high streets. The councils, led by the London Borough of Newham, argue that unregulated casino-style gambling is a significant cause of anti-social behaviour, and the provisions to the Sustainable Communities Act require the government to engage in talks on the issue.