National Audit Office 'publishes damning report on HS2 delays and soaring costs'

News of a 'damning' report by Parliament's spending watchdog on the High Speed Two (HS2) project, which found that it was running a decade late with a total cost unknown, features in today's newspaper round-up.

According to The Times, the National Audit Office (NAO) study found that HS2 is "running ten years behind schedule and it is impossible to know how much it will cost". The NAO said  the project's first phase "might not open in full until 2036, a decade later than planned", with a "risk of an even longer delay unless building work started within the next two months". In addition, the original budget of £32.7 billion "was revised to £56 billion then rose to £88 billion last year", with fears it "could increase further, mainly because plans for the leg north of Birmingham are yet to be fully developed". 

Also covering the NAO report, the Daily Telegraph says it "comes amid mounting pressure on Boris Johnson to scrap the project, which has considerable opposition within his own party". It states that 13 Tory MPs, including those newly elected to seats in the North and the Midlands, have "appeared in a video posted on YouTube imploring the Prime Minister to rethink HS2 and spend money on improving local railway lines, roads and rural bus services nationwide".

The Guardian reports that plans to moor holiday boats on the shores of a lake in the Lake District National Park "have been withdrawn, in a move described as a huge victory for community activism". According to the newspaper, Lowther Estates, which owns the lake in the village of Grasmere, announced that it would shelve plans to moor 10 motor yachts measuring 12 metres by 3.7 metres following a public outcry, including a protest in the village. Tjhe article adds that "thousands of people are still expected to descend on the Lake District next month to demonstrate over what they say is the increasing push to develop the national park for commercial gain". 

According to the Telegraph, "millennial home ownership in England has caught up with private renting for the first time in seven years". It says the government's latest English Housing Survey shows that "around 41 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 were classed as owner-occupiers in 2018-19 - the same proportion that are in the private rented sector". It adds that the news "arrests more than a decade of decline in home ownership for millennials". 

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