A huge list of benefits from extending the HS2 tunnel throughout the whole of the Chilterns has been handed to parliament.
Under current plans a bored tunnel will stop at Little Missenden but campaigners want it to be extended to the north of Wendover, with an ‘intervention gap’ of 500 metres at Durham Farm in Wendover Dean to make it comply with safety laws.
The Government claims an extended tunnel will add an extra £330million to HS2’s £50bn pricetag.
The report commissioned by the Conserve the Chilterns and Countryside group calculates that an extended tunnel offers the area 10 times greater protection than the government’s scheme
It also claims the impact of the current scheme on the Chilterns economy could be as much as £750million.
Chilterns MP Cheryl Gillan MP, who spoke at the launch of the report, said: “This new report clearly demonstrates the cultural, environmental and social impacts of the current HS2 route on the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty. When these non-market effects are taken into account it is more than enough to justify a cost neutral tunnel to fully protect the Chilterns.”
The report by Peter Brett Associates says that an extended tunnel would save 142 out of the 143 Chilterns homes from being permamently affected (on or within 200m of the line). The only property still affected would be at Durham Farm where the gap in the tunnel would be.
Only six square kilometres of landscape would be affected by the train line compared to 45 sq km.
It would save all four historic sites which would be severely damaged under the current plans, with eight of the nine historic sites which would have been ‘degraded’ also saved (the setting of Bacombe Hill north of Wendover will be altered by the scheme in either option).
A longer tunnel would also save all 9.2 hectares of ancient woodland while 230 hectares out of 250 hectares of agricultual land would also be spared.
In terms of the impact on tourism the alternative sceme would affect just 990 metres of public rights away (compared to 9,400m) and 150m of cycle lanes (compared to 2,600m).
The report concludes: “In broad terms it can be said that under every measure the environmental impacts related to the proposed scheme are approximately 10 times greater in magnitude than those related to the alternative scheme.”