There are fears HS2 compensation and mitigation could be squeezed after cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Haywood began looking at ways to cut its £55bn cost.
According to the Guardian, Sir Jeremy, the head of the civil service, is expected to report to ministers by the summer.
Stop HS2 said there are ‘significant’ concerns along the route that the first thing to be trimmed will be environmental mitigation, such as deep cuttings, tunnels and sound barriers, as well as making compensation harder to get.
Campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “The idea that government is looking to see what they can slice off to stop cost escalation is very disturbing to communities and environmentalists, as the very first thing to go will be the already inadequate proposed mitigations, and the only other thing they can do is reduce the already woeful access to compensation.”
“But even if government did that, it would not stop the cost skyrocketing as this project is simply out of control.”
The action group said Sir Jeremy’s review was a ‘tacit admission’ that Chair of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins ‘has failed in his remit to cut costs’.
It is on top of the Project Review which is due to start and the current National Audit Office investigation, which is their third study into HS2.
A government spokeswoman told the Guardian: “As is normal for large projects, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority is conducting assurance of the HS2 programme as it proceeds into its delivery phase. It is standard practice for this to include a small cross government team.”