Newspaper review: HS2 rethink for Darling

Papers

Former Labour Chancellor and Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has written an article for the Times in which he reveals he is now against the proposed HS2 high-speed rail link.

It was Mr Darling who approved the first stage of the scheme. Two months ago, he told the Sunday Telegraph that he was an HS2 sceptic.

In the Times article he goes further, saying the facts have changed since 2010 and so he has changed his mind.

In particular, he says, the projected cost has risen from £30bn to £50bn, sucking money out of other vital projects. The Times describes his change of heart as "a shattering blow to the political consensus behind the project".

The Daily Telegraph says an official report at the centre of a coalition row over renewable energy will disclose for the first time the impact of wind farms on rural house prices.

The paper revealed the existence of the report on Tuesday and says it has been told by coalition sources that officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are trying to block its publication.

Two Tory MPs tell the paper they expect the report will show that wind farms reduce property prices by billions of pounds across the country.

On the letters page Energy Secretary Ed Davey writes in response to Tuesday's article to say his department is not blocking publication of the report.

India health

According to the Independent, Britain runs a secret internet monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic.

The paper says it will not disclose the location of the site - information on its activities was apparently contained in the documents leaked by American fugitive Edward Snowden.

The Daily Mirror claims that some NHS patients could be sent to India for treatment. It says up to 20 health trusts are in talks with Indian companies, mainly about doctor swaps.

The deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, Dr Kailash Chand, is quoted saying he fears the next step could be flying patients to India to save money. He tells the Mirror: "This is a huge scandal".

The Daily Mail focuses on the founder of CPP, the firm at the centre of the credit card insurance mis-selling scandal.

Hamish Ogston has described the £11.3bn compensation bill suggested by the Financial Conduct Authority as a "ridiculous figure" and accused the authority of "sensationalism".

The paper claims he amassed a £100m fortune but CPP will contribute what it calls a "paltry" £29m to the compensation pot.

Cosmetic surgery

The lead in the Sun tells of a 27-year-old woman from Huddersfield who had a £5,000 tummy-tuck operation on the NHS, apparently because she wants to become an actress.

The paper has a picture of Kelly McManus, a mother of three, who tells the paper: "I'm so grateful, it's changed my life."

In an editorial, the paper calls it "another ludicrous episode in the comedy we call the NHS."

The paper says it was just two weeks ago that the NHS needed a £500m bailout to keep A&E departments afloat this winter.

It believes the NHS should refuse all cosmetic surgery unless it is proved beyond doubt to be a clinical necessity.

Finally, the Daily Express reports that a stranded dolphin hitched a lift back to sea after swimming 30 miles up the River Dee at Chester.

Flint inshore lifeboat crew hoisted the mammal into their inflatable. The dolphin had been given the name Dai - but it had to be changed to Di after it was discovered it was a female.

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