HS2: MPs approve law paving way for high speed rail link
Legislation paving the way for the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham has been approved by MPs.
The £56bn project - backed by both the Conservative and Labour leadership - cleared its final Commons stage and now goes to the House of Lords.
But 44 MPs opposed the measure, many concerned at the cost and the threat to the environment.
It is due to be complete in 10 years, with a further extension to Manchester and Leeds due to be finished by 2032.
The bill was approved at third reading by 399 votes to 44.
Several MPs representing constituencies through which the route will pass voted against the bill, including Cheryl Gillan (Amersham and Chesham), Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras), Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) and Victoria Prentis (Banbury).
Campaigners against HS2 said the report stage and third reading of the bill had been rushed through in less than an hour, leaving little time for amendments to be discussed and MPs to speak.
"With just 37 minutes given to debate a £56bn project, that works out at over £1.5bn per minute, rushing through spending at a phenomenal rate," said Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2.
But Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the vote had brought HS2 "one step closer to reality", with construction expected to begin next year.
"As we enter this new phase I make three pledges: we will work closely with those communities affected by the HS2 route, we will keep a firm grip on costs and we will drive maximum value for money from this new railway," he said.