Councillors have voted to extend Edinburgh's tram service to Newhaven, it has been announced.

The controversial decision comes after the final business case for the extension revealed the cost could reach £207 million.

READ MORE: Edinburgh trams extension cost could hit £207m

The potential hike is £42m more than the previously cited £165m, and includes a contingency fund.

The project on the original Line 1a is due to begin at the end of March with a six-month Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) period.

Construction work will get underway after the ECI has concluded with Edinburgh Trams aiming to take their first passengers to and from Newhaven in early 2023.

According to Edinburgh City Council, nearly 16 million people are forecast to use the completed Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven tramline in its first year of operation. 

The council added that work is ongoing to finalise a £2.4million package of support for businesses throughout the construction process. 

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: "This is a crucial decision for Edinburgh - for today's residents and for generations to come. Taking trams to Newhaven will allow brownfield development sites to be transformed, opening up the whole of north Edinburgh to a wealth of opportunities in terms of jobs, housing and local facilities. And vitally, this will be achieved without putting pressure on existing Council budgets."

READ MORE: Staff threaten to bring Edinburgh Trams to a standstill over 'culture of blame'

She added: "Our city is growing faster than anywhere else in Scotland - a sign of our continued attractiveness as a place to work, live, visit and spend time - and boosting our public transport infrastructure in a sustainable way is fundamental to catering to our expanding population. I firmly believe the tram project is in the best interests of the city's current and future residents and, as an Administration, we will do everything in our power to make sure it's delivered on time and on budget. Next stop: Newhaven!"

Two opposition parties refused to back the plans, with the Scottish Conservatives highlighing the cost of the project.

Tory transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, said: "The Conservative message on the tram extension is clear: Edinburgh Council should invest in building schools, not in a £93m per mile tram extension.

"Unfortunately, SNP, Labour and Green councillors have opted to vote to extend the tram and in doing so have backing a costly business case filled with unknown financial risk to taxpayers. It offers terrible value for money.

"The Edinburgh tram inquiry is set to become one of the most expensive in British history. It is arrogant in the extreme that the council has today opted to proceed without the Inquiry’s full findings."

The Herald reported yesterday on residents and businesses in the area most affected by the extension calling for commitments to tackle concerns key to minimising disruption to the daily lives of 75,000 residents and 1,500 firms.

The call was made in a joint statement by Community Councils Together on Trams, a coalition of the four community councils that cover the areas most impacted.

READ MORE: Warning over disruption to 1,500 businesses ahead of trams decision

The group said ahead of today’s trams decision: “While we continue to support the broad principle and ambitious aims of the tram extension, a number of our concerns have yet to be fully addressed.

“We recognise that a strong feeling exists among many people in our communities that this project is being pushed through with undue and unnecessary haste.”

It added: "We remain sceptical about the absence of sufficiently robust progress or commitment over the following measures which are essential if the tram is to achieve its steep environmental mode-shifting targets and if the collateral damage of the inevitably disruptive construction period is to be reduced."