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Tunnel for HS2 would protect Chilterns

Friday 27 March 2015

Tunnel for HS2 would protect Chilterns

A fully-bored tunnel for the HS2 rail line under the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) would prevent huge damage to this nationally-protected landscape and also makes more economic sense than the current proposals, says a report launched yesterday.

The report on the Chilterns Long Tunnel, produced by Peter Brett Associates, was commissioned by the Chilterns Conservation Board, together with Chiltern District Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Buckinghamshire County Council.

Currently, the Government’s proposals for the HS2 route include a bored tunnel under only half of the AONB. This tunnel rises steeply to emerge at the top of a hill covered in ancient woodland in the centre of the Chilterns near Great Missenden. The route then runs on the surface for 12km through the AONB, in cuttings, on embankment and on viaduct, which will create a huge eyesore in one of the country’s finest landscapes and result in great damage to wildlife, local communities and the rural economy.

The proposed Chilterns Long Tunnel, put forward by the Board and partners, is a 24.2km fully-bored tunnel under the AONB starting near the M25 and emerging next to Wendover. The additional cost of this longer tunnel is a mere 0.8% of the total budget for Phase 1 of HS2. The Chilterns Long Tunnel (CLT) makes more sense than the current proposals because:

  • Damage to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty would be greatly reduced
  • The gradient of the CLT is more gentle, which has benefits for the fuel economy and speed of HS2 trains
  • There would be far fewer impacts on the local economy, including tourism
  • Impacts on local communities along the route, during construction and operation of the line, would be greatly reduced
  • Less compensation to property owners on the route would be paid out by Government, making the financial case for the tunnel even stronger
  • The amount of land acquired along the route for construction would be far less than for the current proposals 

Kath Daly, Acting Chief Officer at the Chilterns Conservation Board said: “The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of England’s finest landscapes, subject to the highest levels of protection. We expect those responsible for designing the HS2 railway to take seriously their duty to conserve this special place. A long bored tunnel is the only acceptable mitigation if the HS2 scheme goes ahead. “

Leader of Chiltern District Council, Isobel Darby: “HS2 would create a huge and ugly scar through parts of the AONB. Our proposal represents a huge improvement over the existing government proposed scheme and avoids the reckless damage that the rail line would cause.”

Read a summary of the full report  on the Chilterns Long Tunnel.

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