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HS2 Environmental Statement inadequate and hugely flawed

Thursday 27 February 2014

The Environmental Statement on High Speed 2 fails to properly assess the impacts of the proposed high speed line on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contains hardly any options to avoid serious damage to this nationally-protected countryside. These conclusions are included in the response the Chilterns Conservation Board has submitted today to the Government’s consultation on the HS2 Environmental Statement.

The Board objects to the development of High Speed 2 because of the significant and irreversible damage it would do to the nationally protected landscape of the Chilterns AONB.

The Environmental Statement, produced by HS2 Ltd, comes to the extraordinary conclusion that the overall impact on the Chilterns AONB is only moderately adverse. This is not credible and flies in the face of the actual facts about HS2’s impact on the Chilterns. These include:

  •  7 miles/11.5 kilometres of the route will be a visible scar as it will be on the surface, embankment, viaduct, shallow cuttings or cut and cover tunnels.
  • 18 hectares of woodland will be destroyed including 10.2 hectares of Ancient Woodland
  • 12 million tonnes of spoil will be generated and potentially dumped in the Chilterns AONB.
  • 41 kilometres of hedgerows including 5.6 kms of important and historic hedgerows will be destroyed.
  • Over 200 mature and veteran trees (outside of woodland) will be felled

 Mantles Wood ancient woodland

The Board has made clear in its response that the only way to avoid huge and permanent damage to the Chilterns is for HS2 to be placed in a fully bored tunnel under the whole AONB. Only then can it be claimed that the Government has complied with its legal duty to conserve and enhance the Chilterns AONB as one of the country’s finest landscapes.

A fully bored tunnel under the Chilterns would save 10 hectares of ancient woodland from destruction, a third of that destined for destruction along the whole route from London to Birmingham. Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, comments: “As both ancient woodland and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty have been given national protection, how can it make sense to destroy them? A full length bored tunnel under the Chilterns to save these national treasures is desirable and practical.”

The Board’s full response to the consultation on the HS2 Environmental Statement can be found on our Maps and Documents page.

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