THE Prime Minister has given the green light to HS2 following a review.

Boris Johnson has given high speed rail link the go-ahead, despite fears over its cost and impact on the environment.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons that his Government had the 'guts to take the decision' to deliver prosperity across the country.

Winsford Guardian:

Boris Johnson addresses MPs on HS2. Photo: PA

To avoid 'further blow outs' in HS2's cost or schedule, a series of measures will be taken to 'restore discipline to the programme', he said.

This will include appointing a minister whose full time job will be to oversee the project, and changes to the way HS2 is managed.

The announcement follows the completion of a Government-commissioned review by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee into whether or not the programme should be scrapped.

Mr Johnson said: "The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee ... leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail.

"A vast increase in capacity with hundreds of thousands of extra seats making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country.

"And that means faster journey times, not just more capacity."

The High Speed Rail Group (HSRG), made up of more than 20 organisations, says the decision is a 'pivotal next step' for the country.

An HSRG spokesman said: “No major project has ever been subjected to as much scrutiny as HS2, and this is right and proper given the public money being spent.

"But having had leading experts analyse HS2 for the last six months, the Government has rightly concluded that going ahead with the project is essential for their vision of levelling up Britain and delivering a transformation of regional economies across the country.

“With the decision taken, the industry’s main focus must now be on delivering every penny of that public investment as efficiently as possibly and wringing every benefit from the project.

"Now the debate on whether to build HS2 has been resolved, we can focus on working together to make the most of it.

"From Japan to France, China to Spain, high speed rail has transformed countries across the globe.

"Now we invite the whole country to work together on the shared national endeavour of using high speed rail to transform Britain too.”

Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “Giving HS2 the go-ahead on the back of the Oakervee Review, a review which was written by the people it was meant to be investigating, is saying none of the evidence matters, none of the facts matter, we’re going to do it for the sake of doing it.

"HS2 will be Boris’ Big Blunder, it’s a shame he can’t see that.”

Critics of the scheme point to its environmental impact and cost, while those in favour say it will free up capacity on existing railway lines.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This announcement is a massive blow to the taxpayers of today and tomorrow who will be left paying for the HS2 white elephant with no light at the end of the tunnel. 

"The business case for HS2 was flawed from the start, offering little benefit to anyone outside the big cities, and nobody can comfortably say what the final bill will be.

"Going forward the government needs to stop HS2 Ltd calling the shots and work out how to keep costs down on a project which is already coming off the rails.” 

Connecting Britain, a coalition of business and political leaders in northern England including Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram - metro mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region respectively - said in a statement: "The north of England needs new rail lines that go north-south and west-east.

"London isn't being forced to choose, it's getting Crossrail and HS2. We shouldn't be forced to either. We need HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail delivered in full.

"The Government needs to be clear we will not accept a gold-plated high-speed line between London and Birmingham, then once again the north getting the scraps."