Buckinghamshire is the county most adversely affected by HS2 and the route crosses under and over the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nationally designated as one of England’s finest landscapes.
The route severs irreplaceable ancient woodland, destroys nationally important historic landscape, permanently damages heritage assets and areas of great biodiversity value.
As we have always said, HS2 has no tangible benefits for people or place in Bucks.
Together with Aylesbury Vale District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board we commissioned a new study ‘ High Speed Rail in the Chilterns: a feasibility study of an alternative tunnelling option’ to ensure all our local concerns were addressed.
Considerable consultation has taken place with local action groups and parish councils to ensure that by solving problems in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and making improvements to the alignment in Wendover, our amendments do not cause further harm. Although we have improved the position considerably we accept that for many other communities, HS2 does cause considerable damage.
The Chilterns Long Tunnel route option follows the majority of the Government’s proposed route but as it is underground the result is that no houses will be demolished; there will be no landfilling of surplus soil; there will be minimal disturbance to the irreplaceable and tranquil AONB and there will be minimal impact on communities, businesses and residents. As our report states, the permanent and irretrievable loss of environment caused by HS2 is avoidable; the technology is available and the engineering solutions exist. The report has now been launched in the House of Commons with the support of all the Bucks MPs and has been presented to HS2 Limited.
We await HS2 Limited’s response and expect to present our report to the HS2 Select Committee in Parliament this summer.