The Chiltern Society is very disappointed at the Government’s decision to proceed with HS2 in full, and particularly with the section across the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As a charity supported by 7000 members and hundreds of volunteers who support our work to protect and promote the AONB and surrounding area, we have campaigned for 10 years to stop HS2 crossing the Chilterns. The line splits the AONB in two and even though part of it is tunnelled, it will bring enormous disruption and environmental harm to the Chilterns area.
The decision to proceed brings significant threats, not least the destruction of precious ancient woodland, additional noise to a tranquil and protected area, light and air pollution fears, and catastrophic disruption to wildlife. The additional water abstraction from the Chiltern aquifer during construction of HS2 will put internationally important chalk streams at serious risk to pollution and extinction.
There is a real and genuine concern that tunnelling through unstable chalk in the area will seriously affect water supplies and that some of the globally rare chalk streams located in the Chilterns could disappear completely. Unfavourable ground conditions for tunnelling are likely to adversely affect two Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Bacombe Hill and Aston Clinton. Tunnelling is also likely to cause serious ground stability issues in the areas of Chalfont St. Giles and South Heath. All of these will have serious implications for further cost increases.
We have also raised questions regarding the safety of the train evacuation procedures in the Chilterns Tunnel, which HS2 have refused to answer for over a year.
As we believe this is a fundamentally bad decision, which is not in the country’s economic or environmental interest, we will continue to oppose this project, and fight to limit the potentially devastating impacts on the Chilterns and the AONB.