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HS2 gets go-ahead

13 January 2012

The UK’s biggest and most controversial infrastructure project since the construction of the motorways, the high-speed rail network (HS2), was given the go ahead earlier this week despite strong opposition.

The first phase, connecting a new Birmingham station to London and the Channel Tunnel, is projected to be completed in 2026 and cost £33bn. A second phase, which will face a consultation in 2014, would extend the line to Manchester and Leeds by 2033, whilst connecting the line to Heathrow is also being considered.

Government claims that the project will create £47bn of benefits have been disputed; environmental groups say that 160 important wildlife sites will be damaged despite modifications being made to the route; and residents are concerned about HS2 affecting their land and communities.

The strength of opposition suggests that HS2 may still hit the buffers, potentially through judicial review proceedings brought in the courts. The debate over HS2 is far from over.

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