Eurotunnel extension under fire

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Indy Politics
EUROTUNNEL was granted a 10-year extension to its 55-year Channel tunnel operating concession without a detailed examination of the cost to the taxpayer, a Labour MP claimed yesterday, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, has so far failed to identify the likely value of revenue foregone. In return for the extension to 2052, agreed in December, Eurotunnel agreed to drop up to pounds 1bn worth of legal claims against the British and French governments for extra costs arising from safety, security and environmental measures.

The move allowed the company to reach a settlement with its bankers for extra funding to cover start-up costs. The tunnel's cost rose from pounds 6bn in 1987 to about pounds 10bn, partly because of additional measures demanded by both governments.

In reply to a parliamentary question from John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley West, Mr MacGregor said: 'It is not possible to say with any precision what the cost to the Government of the extension of the concession will be.'

Mr Spellar said: 'It is quite extraordinary for the Government to give away 10 years' future revenue while being unable, apparently, to put a figure on it. It is yet another example of government mismanagement - unless the fact is that it is afraid to reveal what it has handed over.'