HS2 review poised to 'axe' Leeds and Sheffield link

Reports that the government's review of the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project is looking at axing the project's "eastern extension to Leeds" features in today's newspaper round-up.

An article in The Financial Times (subscription) says that the project "is at risk of being scaled back in northern England under cost-cutting plans drawn up by the panel reviewing the UK’s flagship infrastructure project." The paper says that the "route beyond the East Midlands to Leeds and Sheffield would be axed and train speeds cut by 40mph in an attempt to save more than £10bn, according to people close to the panel, which is led by former HS2 chairman Douglas Oakervee."

A separate article in the FT says that property owners affected by the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project are claiming that "there have been long delays to [compensation] payments and many believe their properties have been severely undervalued." It says that "about 12 property owners have already appealed against their valuation to the Lands Tribunal," according to a freedom of information request by a law firm given to the paper. It adds that, "according to surveyors, more appeals are coming, even though the process is lengthy and expensive."

An article in The Guardian looks at how campaign groups are "fighting back" to prevent the destruction of tracts of ancient woodland along the proposed HS2 route.

The Guardian’s economics editor Larry Elliott writes that without the Beeching cuts to Britain's railway network "there might never have been a Brexit vote". He says that, following the publication of the Beeching report in March 1963, "hundreds of stations and thousands of miles of track were axed". He writes that Beeching "contributed to the UK’s geographical divide between thriving big cities and struggling smaller towns." Elliott adds that "without Beeching there might not have been a vote for Brexit."

The naturalist David Attenborough has called for the creation of "powerful new environmental laws" to ensure that "wildlife is prioritised when managing our land and planning our towns", the Scotsman reports. The paper says that, in a short film launched today as part of a campaign by wildlife umbrella body the Wildlife Trusts, Attenborough says that "a legally binding network for nature would mean that wildlife is prioritised when managing our land and planning our towns." He adds that "powerful new environmental laws can ensure habitats are expanded and reconnected meaning all life will thrive once more," the paper says.

An article in The Times (subscription) says that "a £1.4 billion skyscraper is to be built in the City of London after the project received financial backing from one of Britain’s biggest investment funds, seeking to take advantage of reduced interest from overseas buyers." The paper says that, "in a significant vote of confidence in the future of the financial district after Brexit, M&G Prudential is investing £875 million to buy and fund the development of the office scheme at 40 Leadenhall."

An article in The Financial Times says that "luxury real estate is over". Rana Foroohar, the paper’s global business columnist and associate editor, writes: "For years, cities including London, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have been largely disconnected from national property market trends." But she adds that factors, including "recessionary fears" have put an end to this.

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