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Push for HS2 Review Panel

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Push for HS2 Review Panel

On Wednesday 20th January the Chilterns Conservation Board  and local authorities in Buckinghamshire (Bucks County Council, Chiltern, Wycombe and Aylesbury Vale District Councils) put a strong case to the HS2 Select Committee for an effective and properly-funded AONB Review Panel.

A Review Panel has been set up for the Colne Valley Regional Park to provide recommendations on design and mitigation proposals for their section of the HS2 route with £300,000 funding confirmed for the panel plus £3 million for mitigation works. At present no such Panel is proposed for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), despite the fact that the HS2 line crosses 21km of the AONB, which is an internationally-important landscape.

Planning consultant Jerry Unsworth, on behalf of the Conservation Board and local authorities, made strong representations to the Select Committee today that the AONB should have a Review Panel which has the same remit and funding as the Colne Valley one. He requested that:

  • The Panel's activities include overseeing the production of a wide-ranging mitigation plan to offset some of the huge damage that the HS2 route will cause through the Chilterns.
  • It has an independent chair and includes representatives from Natural England and the Environment Agency.
  • It has proper funding.

A table of the current differences between the propsals for the Chilterns and the Colne Valley is below.

Mr Unsworth's presentation made an impact on the Select Committee which has asked HS2 Ltd to go away and consider the requests from the Board and local authorities.

 

Comparison of Chilterns AONB and Colne Valley Review Panel/group proposals

Issue

AONB

Colne Valley

Total length of route

20.9km

9.5km

Above ground length

8.9km

6.8km

Structures

More tunnel portals, vent shaft buildings, overbridges, pylon changes etc

Longer viaduct

Status

National/ international designation

Regional designation

Number of local authorities

4 plus statutorily constituted Chilterns Conservation Board.

5  plus the Colne Valley Community Interest Company

HS2 Panel?

No, Review Group offered instead to consider   design principles

Yes

Independent chair

No

Yes

Membership of panel / group to include   Natural England and Environment agency

No

Yes

Additional ‘local’ Mitigation Plan to be   developed

No

Yes

Funding for Panel/ consultants/   implementation

Not confirmed

Yes – including 300k for the Panel/ local   officer + £3m for additional mitigation works.

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