Legislation kick-starting the building of a high-speed railway line linking Sheffield to London has received royal backing.
MPs were today informed the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013 has been formally agreed by the Queen.
The legislation allows the Government to spend money planning the HS2 route in detail and buying up property from residents and businesses along the proposed track.
The project, which is estimated will cost about £50 billion, is intended to link London to Birmingham by 2026, with two branches then heading to Manchester and Leeds, via Sheffield, being built by 2033.
Alison Munro, HS2 chief executive, said: “The passage of the Paving Bill is a critical milestone in the delivery of the programme, ahead of the deposit of the Hybrid Bill next week.
“We can now continue to take forward the early activities for delivery of HS2, such as early ground investigation works.
“We’ll also be able to start working with the private sector on developing skills and training in preparation for HS2’s delivery.”
However, the scheme has proved controversial.
Concerns have been raised about the loss of homes and the noise and disruption from the building work and the trains themselves, particularly in Renishaw, Killamarsh and Tinsley, where the line is plroposed to run.