HS2 chief forced to defend project amid new claims

Plans for High Speed 2 took a blow today as they were attacked on both financial and environmental grounds.

A report by the Institute for Economic Affairs suggested that the cost of the project is likely to double official estimates, reaching £80 billion.

The charity Campaign for Rural England also said it believes half a million people - including some living 40 miles from the planned route - would be affected by the construction.

But the chief executive of HS2, Alison Munro, described the claimw as "absurd" and insisted the project would remain within budget.

ITV News correspondent Lewis Vaughan Jones reports:

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HS2 chief: £80bn claim 'absurd'

The chief executive of the High Speed 2 has dismissed claims that the rail project will cost £80 billion as "absurd". A report by Institute for Economic Affairs, due out on Monday, says the costs are likely to double the current estimate.