ANTI HS2 campaigners have slammed the government after it was revealed that it has cut the value of countryside through which the train line will run by up to 90 per cent.
Figures obtained by HS2 Action Alliance through Freedom of Information Act requests showed that that the government's landscape impact value, which estimates the cash value of green space to Britain and the environment, had dropped dramatically since it was last calculated in 2010.
Two years ago in an offical assessment by HS2 Ltd, the London to Birmingham route was estimated to cause £4.3bn of damage to the environment across the UK, with the London and Chiltern area of natural beauty sections causing just under £1.1bn of damage.
However, this has now dropped to £957m for the whole country, 78 per cent lower than last time, and to just £114m in London and the Chilterns, around a tenth of the 2010 figure.
HS2 Action Alliance's Hilary Wharf, Great Missenden director for the group, said: "It is disgraceful.
"It is a case of the government devaluing land so that it can get what it wants.
"It has been done very quietly and so that people won't notice, but it has huge implications.
"As well as HS2 it sets a massive precedent for other developments to be built on green belt land.
"It is irresponsible and should not be allowed to happen. If it does, we will see other big projects being built on protected land all over the UK."
The new assessment shows that almost all the London and Chiltern land along the proposed route has been reduced to about £103 per hectare.
However, the Department for Transport says that the 2010 figure came from early estimates of the damage.
In a statement, it said: "The earlier figure is not directly comparable to the more sophisticated exercise we have now carried out."