Could £1.85billion tunnel save the Chilterns from HS2?

Conceptual image of HS2
Conceptual image of HS2

Campaigners have unveiled a study which they say makes a case for a £1.85billion tunnel to protect the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from HS2.

The study has been commissioned by Chiltern District Council, and is said to prove the viability of a 24.7km tunnel.

It proposes a revised Green Route, all in tunnel, which goes under the River Misbourne at Chalfont St Giles as far as the A404.

The route then follows a line east of Little Kingshill and west of Little Missenden to cross under the River Misbourne, Chiltern Line and A413.

It then runs parallel to the A413 passing to the east of Great Missenden with an intervention gap close to the A413 south of Bowood Lane.

This is close to existing transport routes, which campaigners say would lessen the effect of this open section.

Access to the required gap for emergency purposes is accessible from the A413 and will be entirely underground.

The government’s current proposed route takes HS2 through the widest part of the Chilterns AONB, which the report states will ‘militate rather than mitigate the impact’.

Research on the tunnel is also in association with Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “The Chilterns are a nationally-designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a treasure for the whole country. Protecting and enhancing them is one of our key responsibilities we owe to future generations.”

Councillor Neil Blake, Leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “While we accept that investment in our rail infrastructure is required, I don’t feel that the proposed HS2 project is the best use of public money, nor is the cost of damaging irreplaceable natural heritage acceptable.

“However, if the project is to go forward, I urge the government to consider our alternative tunnel options that help to avoid permanent environmental damage.”