The HS2 Phase 2a Bill has been given Royal Assent, meaning that work can now start on the next phase of the project from the West Midlands to Crewe.
The HS2 Phase 2a: High Speed Rail Bill, which passed into law on Thursday exactly one year after ministers gave the project the green light, will allow HS2 Ltd to start environmental works along the route with construction expected to begin on this section by 2024.
Construction of Phase 1 between Euston Station in London and Birmingham is already underway, supporting more than 15,000 jobs and 500 apprenticeships.
Progress has however been hampered by major protests at Euston, which have seen anti-HS2 campaigners dig a tunnel beside Euston Square to try and halt construction works.
A high court judge recently ruled that the eviction of protesters from the tunnel could continue.
The Guardian reported had that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had twice asked HS2 contractors to stop evicting the climate activists because of concerns about the way it was being carried out. The evictions had been stopped, and then restarted.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: 'Whatever your view of this project, HS2 is now a reality – heading north, creating jobs and building a brighter future for our country.
'This vital project is at the heart of the Government’s commitments to build back better from the pandemic, tackle the north-south divide and drive growth across the country.
'The signing of the Phase 2a Bill into law is a historic milestone for this ambitious project, which is already creating and supporting thousands of jobs across the UK. I look forward to seeing spades in the ground to get this section built and deliver the benefits of high-speed rail to the north as swiftly as possible.'
The Government and local leaders emphasised the importance of the job creation aspect of the controversial £106bn HS2 scheme, againt the backdrop of the national recovery from COVID.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, said the scheme would be 'a key anchor of the region’s recovery plans' the latest research 'suggests HS2 could eventually generate 175,000 jobs and more than £20bn of investment' in the West Midlands region.
Government officials said construction of Phase 2a is expected to support around 5,000 jobs, with more in the supply chain, as well supporting 140 permanent jobs at its maintenance base near Stone in Staffordshire.
HS2 Ltd marked National Apprenticeship Week this week by announcing that it will be directly recruiting for 30 new apprentices to join the company in September 2021.
The company has also launched a new online jobs board. HS2 Ltd’s construction partners and station contractors are currently recruiting for over 100 live vacancies, with jobs based at various office and satellite locations along the Birmingham to London route.
The Government aims to publish its delayed Integrated Rail Plan this year, which will outline how HS2 can work with existing rail plans and Northern Powerhouse Rail to deliver the benefits of HS2 to the East Midlands, Yorkshire and beyond.