Cities may have to help fund HS2 rail link

Cities that are likely to benefit from the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link will be asked to contribute towards the cost of building the new line, it emerged tonight.

News of the potential levy – possibly raised through council tax – took some observers by surprise after it had been assumed the Government would bankroll the entire £33bn project, which will link Yorkshire and the North-west to London via Birmingham.

A Department for Transport command paper published last week said "parties who would benefit directly from opportunities and development" should contribute to the cost.

The Chancellor, George Osborne, claims the scheme will create growth and thousands of new jobs.

However, there has been a growing backlash from homeowners on the proposed route who fear they will be left out of pocket, as well as from environmentalists and some rail economists.

Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and Derby, which will each receive new high-speed stations, are expected to be asked to contribute.

Paul Bayliss, the leader of Derby City Council, said there were potentially huge benefits. "If the cost of the investment means we have a £145m return and thousands of jobs it's a good use of resources," he said.

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said the contributions expected would depend on "local circumstances".