THE Government has launched an independent review into high speed rail link HS2 to analyse whether and how the project should continue.

The Department for Transport has announced former HS2 chair Douglas Oakervee will lead the inquiry, with long-term critic Lord Berkeley acting as his deputy.

It will review a number of factors including HS2's benefits, impact, affordability, efficiency, deliverability, scope and phasing. The final report will be sent to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps - overseen by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Sajid Javid - by the autumn. 

The report will "inform the Government's decisions on next steps for the project", according to the DfT.

Mr Shapps said: "The Prime Minister has been clear that transport infrastructure has the potential to drive economic growth, redistribute opportunity and support towns and cities across the UK, but that investments must be subject to continuous assessment of their costs and benefits.

"That's why we are undertaking this independent and rigorous review of HS2.

"Douglas Oakervee and his expert panel will consider all the evidence available, and provide the department with clear advice on the future of the project."

Mr Oakervee added: "The Prime Minister has asked me to lead this important review into the HS2 programme.

"I am looking forward to working with my deputy, Lord Berkeley, to advise the Government on how and whether to progress with HS2, based on all existing evidence."

The Taxpayer's Alliance has welcomed the review, and has long campaigned to scrap the HS2 project.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "We have long argued that HS2 is a waste of taxpayers' money, and it's good news that the government will conduct a full review.

"This is a sign that the government is willing to be bold and think seriously before spending taxpayers' money on a white elephant.

"Brits need new world-class infrastructure that will make us competitive, but it's vital that taxpayers get value for their hard-earned cash, too."

An enraged Lord Andrew Adonis blasted the review on social media, saying it "screws the North" and is "as stupid as you can get".

He said: "It throws the project into flux and will cause big delays, loss of confidence & cost increases.

"But HS2 will almost certainly continue afterwards in modified form. What a shambles.

"Membership of the review is about evenly divided between supporters & opponents of HS2, who will now engage in a massive bun fight while the Transport Department runs for cover & HS2 Ltd is paralysed by indecision.

"Designing an infrastructure project by committee is always bad, but redesigning by committee of contrarians is reckless and irresponsible.

"This is a (Boris Johnson adviser Dominic) Cummings-style Maoist mayhem to appease a handful of Tory backbenchers."

CBI director of infrastructure Tom Thackray said the business world has a simple message for the Government: just get on with it.

He said: “The business message on HS2 is clear-cut - back it, build it, benefit from it.

"The debate has gone round the houses too many times. While it’s always helpful to review major projects like HS2 to ensure that value for money is delivered, the business case is well known.

“The approval of HS2 Phase One led to record levels of Foreign Direct Investment in the West Midlands. We have seen and are continuing to see similar benefits right across the proposed route.

“We firmly believe committing to HS2 in full, once and for all, will spread the flow of investment across the Midlands, the North of England and into Scotland.

"The current poor connectivity in the North is a major obstacle to encouraging companies from growing in the region and is a barrier to inward investment.”