Monday 5 December 2011
Delays to the final decision about High Speed Two as the Government considers increasing the length of tunnel under the Chilterns shows that it is clearly concerned about the damage the rail line would cause to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Mike Fox, Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board, said: “The damage that would be caused by High Speed Two would be massive, so we welcome the Secretary of State for Transport’s decision to delay her announcement on whether it will go ahead or not. This will give much-needed time for the Government to reflect on the enormous number of objections submitted by people across the UK to this very costly project.”
He added: “A longer tunnel north of Amersham is a better option than excavating deep cuttings, but the rail line will still run across the surface for 8 miles through the Chilterns AONB. The scale of environmental damage to this nationally-protected area would still be huge and unacceptable.”
Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer at the Conservation Board, pointed out: “We recognise the Government’s attempts to ensure the national protection given to an AONB means something. A longer tunnel, whilst welcome, would make little overall difference to the environmental impact of the railway which will still consume huge amounts of energy and damage many, many important sites for wildlife. The Conservation Board still believes that there is no sound case for building High Speed Two.”