Chiltern Society urges government to have ‘courage’ over HS2


The Government cannot continue to ignore increasingly powerful voices against HS2 and must consider alternative options, the Chiltern Society said today.

Society chairman David Harris said the government had recently suffered several knock-backs over the scheme and must now take stock of the railway, which would cut through the Vale.

He said: “First, influential figures within the rail industry itself express doubts about the scheme, then the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee describes the project as ‘ludicrous’ and now the National Audit Office not only finds a £3.3bn hole in HS2’s finances but has severe doubts about whether it will do anything to boost economic growth or solve the north-south divide.

“Surely it is in the national interest to spend our borrowed money wisely rather than fritter it away on a ‘white elephant’. S

“pend money to develop a high speed rail network that connects city centre to city centre across Britain rather than an ultra high speed line serving a few cities with many out-of-centre stations and few intermediate stops.”

The society is currently considering its response to the HS2 Environmental Statement, published last week, which outlines in detail the enormous impact the railway would have on the countryside.

“Now we know the proposed routes north of Birmingham, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is the only AONB that would be crossed in the event of the current route going ahead.” said Mr Harris.

“HS2’s Environmental Statement details in cold, clinical terms, the devastating impact the project would have on what is supposed to be a protected environment.

“The Government should have the courage to pause and reassess.

“High speed rail development should be part of a national integrated transport strategy.

“No Government should make future rail decisions in isolation without considering other transport developments and alternatives – particularly the future of airport development.”