Update June 2019Published on June 18, 2019
The Chiltern Society campaigned against HS2 cutting through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since the project was first outlined in 2009. We presented evidence to both the House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committees and have taken part in extensive lobbying. We have given a detailed response to the Environmental Statement.
When Parliament approved the scheme the Society decided to keep up the pressure. We now meet regularly with politicians, contractors, relevant bodies and HS2 Ltd trying to ensure that the impact the railway will have on the Chilterns is as minimal as it can be.
Update June 2019
John Gladwin, chairman of the Chiltern Society’s HS2 committee, writes:
The Society has met recently with HS2, including their tunnel safety expert, to discuss concerns over the operational safety of the 16km Chiltern Tunnel. They gave us a thorough explanation of how they intend to deal with things in the event of an emergency. While this has alleviated some of our concerns, we are continuing the dialogue to resolve other issues.
To give some understanding of our concerns, when fully operational, HS2 will run up to 18 trains per hour each way at 320kph in the tunnels (360kph in the open). Each train will carry up to 1,100 people, including disabled and children. If a train has to be evacuated in a tunnel the only place to move people to is through cross passages 350m apart into the other tunnel. Here they will have to wait on a walkway 1.3m wide for a train to come to collect them.
The Society has been campaigning for a number of years for bridges that cross the high speed line to be ‘Green Bridges’. This means that the bridge is much wider than needed for a road or a footpath. It is planted with bushes and wild flower grassland. This provides an opportunity for migrating animals to find routes across the line.
Currently the main contractor, Eiffage Kier (EK) has proposed that they are funnelled into the area under the viaduct planned near Wendover where there will be free movement. The disadvantage of this is that it offers easy opportunities for predators.
At the March HS2 Forum I asked Helen Hall, representing the AONB HS2 Design Panel, whether they were insisting on Green Bridges at least 30m wide to enable existing migration routes not to be disturbed. The response was they are looking at how animals can be channelled to going under the viaduct. I pointed out that they were talking about moving animals two to three kilometres along the line. She had no answer.
Please let the AONB HS2 Design Board know your views.
This link takes you to the Chilterns Conservation Board website where you can find the AONB HS2 Design Panel design principles. https://chilternsaonb.org/latestNews/hs2/HS2-Review-Group.html
Bacombe Hill SSSI (site of special scientific interest)
The Society has met recently with EK with regards to concerns about the stability of Bacombe Hill, raised by our Geological Advisor, Dr Haydon Bailey. The hill is sited very close to the proposed line. The result of this is that further ground investigations are taking place.
Sub-contractor Fusion has said it would be commencing road widening works on Frith Hill initially, and then the Great Missenden link road, with traffic lights to control the traffic and a one-way system in Great Missenden. The local community also does not want a one-way system. However, this has been delayed as they have not applied to Bucks County Council for Schedule 4 permission for the traffic control. The Society will be a keeping a close eye on the situation.
Peter Brown writes
Both John Gladwin and Dr Haydon Bailey were featured on a BBC TV South Today report last month explaining the Chiltern Society’s concerns about the danger HS2 poses to the River Misbourne.
The Chiltern Society’s Keith Hoffmeister has been busy this spring touring many local groups and organisations with his illustrated presentation on the HS2 proposals and the latest developments. His next presentation is to the Dunstable Rotary Club on 9 July. If your group would be interested in hearing an entertaining and informative presentation without the HS2 “spin” please contact the Society.
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