Boris Johnson has given HS2 the go-ahead, despite fears over its cost and impact on the environment.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that his Government had the "guts to take the decision" to deliver prosperity across the country.

The first phase of the high-speed rail link was due to open between London and Birmingham in 2026, but this has now been pushed back to 2028.

The second phase - Manchester to Leeds - should have opened in 2032 but will now debut between 2035-40.

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 decision was met positively by key figures in East Lancashire.

“Delighted to hear the government announcement that HS2 will go ahead in its entirety,” Miranda Barker, CEO of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s essential that this investment be made and that HS2 connects seamlessly with NPR and the wider rail network to further unlock the economic benefit of our Northern business base for the prosperity of the UK as a whole.”

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of major union TSSA added: “Our union welcomes this announcement and we have said from day one that HS2 is vital not only to build much needed capacity on our railways but as a clean and green means of connecting and turbo charging economies across the Midlands and the North.

“Nearly half of Britain’s population will be linked by HS2 services around Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and London but I say directly now to Johnson – grasp the nettle – and commit to taking HS2 all the way to Scotland."