HS2 officially approved with line due to go through south Northamptonshire

HS2, the controversial high-speed rail line due to go through south Northamptonshire, has been approved by the Government today (Tuesday, February 11).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the approval of the multi-billion-pound train link between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in the House of Commons.

An anti-HS2 sign in Culworth, south Northamptonshire, where the high-speed railway line is due to pass nearby, in 2017

An anti-HS2 sign in Culworth, south Northamptonshire, where the high-speed railway line is due to pass nearby, in 2017

"We face a historic choice," the PM told MPs.

"We can try to get by with the existing route between north and south, condemning the next generation to overcrowding and standing up.

"Or we can make the decision no matter how difficult and controversial that will deliver prosperity to every part of the country."

Phase one of the Department for Transport's (DfT) scheme, scheduled to be completed by 2040, is due to pass Brackley, Sulgrave, Chipping Warden and Upper Boddington.

HS2 was due to cost £56 billion in 2015 but that figure could now rise to £88 billion, according to the National Audit Office, but there are fears it could eventually be even higher.

HS2 supporters argue it will improve transport times, create jobs and boost the economy but its critics point to rising costs, allegations of mismanagement and the environmental impact.

Mr Johnson said in the Commons he believed in the 'fundamental value' of HS2 despite 'poor management' and cost savings will be sought.

"When it comes to advocating HS2, it must be said that the task is not made easier by HS2 Ltd, the company concerned," he said.

"Speaking as an MP whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities."

South Northants HS2 Liaison Group was set up by South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom to discuss issues in the district, such as the impact on ancient woodland and housing hundreds of workers in temporary pre-fab housing near Chipping Warden.

The MP has previously expressed frustrations with how HS2 has been handled and raised concerns with the Government - she has been contacted for comment.

North Oxfordshire MP Victoria Prentis described it as a 'sad day' but now the high speed rail project has been confirmed, she wants to work to make it a success.

"Obviously, I remain concerned by the environmental impact of HS2, and by the financial and governance issues of this project which have become increasingly worrying," she said.

"This is a sad day but it also a day to accept that we must come together, as with the other great national project on which there is division, in a spirit of optimism for the future. This project is to go ahead, and it must be a success."

East Midlands CBI regional director Richard Blackmore said: “HS2 shows the government’s commitment to levelling up the nations and regions of the UK.

"The project will bring jobs, new homes, skills and investment to the areas of the country that need them most.

“Once built, HS2 will bring much-needed capacity to our railways and help to realise the government’s promise of an ‘infrastructure revolution’ for the North, Midlands and beyond."