Lengthy legal action by protestors is expected to be triggered by government confirmation today of plans for the controversial £32 billion HS2 high-speed rail link.

Transport secretary Justine Greening is due to give approval for the scheme which will initially run from London to Birmingham from 2026.

More measures to mitigate the worst affects of the line are expected to be announced in the face of strong opposition from residents in the Home Counties.

The link will see passengers travelling at 225mph, bringing journey times on the 100-mile stretch from London to Birmingham down to 49 minutes.

It is hoped high-speed rail will become a credible alternative to many short-haul flights, particularly as the UK network is linked up to the growing number of high-speed schemes in Europe.

The government argues that the scheme, including a second-phase Y-shaped extension to Manchester and Leeds by 2033, will generate £44 billion of benefits to the economy over 60 years.

But residents in the Chilterns as well as some local authorities and Conservative MPs have been vocal in their opposition to the project, which is backed by industry.

The creation of HS2 will lead to the demolition of homes while others will suffer from noise. Extra tunnelling is expected to be added to the route to try to appease opponents.