Government approves HS2 in the face of fierce opposition

The government has given approval to plans for a £32bn high speed rail line linking London and Birmingham despite fierce opposition from local, mainly Conservative, MPs.

Transport secretary Justine Greening said on Tuesday: “It is not a decision that I have taken lightly or without great consideration of the impact on those who are affected by the route.

“I took more time to make this decision in order to find additional mitigation, which now means more than half the entire 140-mile line will be out of sight in tunnels or cuttings.”

The changes include 22.5 miles of the route enclosed in tunnels, up from 14.5 in the original plans, and 56.5 miles in cuttings to reduce noise.

Alasdair Reisner, director of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “The delivery of HS2 both on time and to budget will confirm the strengths of the UK infrastructure sector at home and abroad.” But he added that contractors needed to be involved early to realise the opportunity.