Lords block last-minute bid to derail HS2

Artist impression of HS2
Artist impression of HS2
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An eleventh-hour bid to derail the high-speed rail project has failed in the House of Lords.

Peers opposed a backbench move to block legislation that paves the way for the £55.7bn scheme by 386 votes to 26, majority 360.

The long-awaited HS2 project is now set to go ahead after more than three years of parliamentary scrutiny. Construction is expected to begin in the spring, with phase one due to open in December 2026.

The wrecking amendment, stopped in its tracks in the Lords, was proposed by Tory peer and former deputy Commons speaker Lord Framlingham, who argued all credibility for the scheme had “long since gone”.

Opening the debate on his amendment, Lord Framlingham told peers that they were “all that stands between the wishes and the welfare of the people and a folly on the greatest scale imaginable”, as he claimed the project would bring “no discernible benefit at all”.

He was supported by Baroness Mallalieu, a Labour peer and president of the Countryside Alliance, who warned of the “devastating” environmental damage that would be caused by the project.

She urged the scheme to be “called in” by the Government and examined over whether it still represented value for money.

However, Transport Minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon insisted checks and balances were in place for the scheme and stressed the importance of HS2 to ensuring UK infrastructure is fit for the 21st century.

“This project is not only necessary for investment in our railways but is important to ensure connectivity, capacity and that our country is truly a 21st century country on the world stage,” he said.