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Rejection of long tunnel 'devastating' for Chilterns

Wednesday 22 July 2015

The Chilterns Conservation Board has described the HS2 Select Committee’s decision yesterday to reject a long bored tunnel for HS2 under the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as ‘devastating’ for this protected landscape.

The Select Committee has been hearing evidence from many organisations and individuals over the last two weeks on the huge impact HS2 will have on the landscapes and the communities of the Chilterns. Strong arguments were made by the Chilterns Conservation Board and others that a long bored tunnel under the whole of the AONB is the only way to avoid irreversible damage to one of the country’s finest areas of countryside. Despite this, the Select Committee announced yesterday that it would not be recommending a long tunnel, and instead recommended a short extension to the current proposed tunnel which will now emerge near Great Missenden.

Kath Daly, Acting Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, said:

“This is a devastating decision which completely disregards the strong evidence put forward of the benefits of a long tunnel for the Chilterns and for the country. This short-sighted decision to reject a tunnel under the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty fails to recognise the true value of the AONB – an irreplaceable resource for the nation. It is particularly disappointing that the HS2 Select Committee took barely an hour to produce its recommendations.

“We will be pressing for the maximum alternative mitigation.”

The Board is working very closely with Buckinghamshire County Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Chiltern District Council to achieve the best possible outcome for the Chilterns.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: "It is very hard to believe this decision. The Chilterns is a nationally designated AONB and a 'lung for London'. The case was overwhelming for a full tunnel. Nevertheless, I welcome the decision to at least instruct HS2 to look at extending the current tunnel length northwards and hope that some more of the precious AONB will be spared. Buckinghamshire County Council, along with our partners, will continue to lobby for the maximum mitigation possible for all affected."

The Select Committee's statement can be read here 

The Committee has recommended that the current bored tunnel is extended by 2.5km to the northern end of the green tunnel running past South Heath. This can be seen on this map: Potter Row HS2 map

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