‘Bitter-sweet’ decision brings mixed results for HS2 tunnel campaigners
Committee of MPs rule no overwhelming case has been made for change of track
REACTION to the HS2 select committee’s decision not to allow a tunnel to be built under the Chilterns has been mixed.
Some campaigners have slammed the verdict as “astonishing” while others are pleased that more of the area will be protected by an extended tunnel to South Heath.
The committee said it was unconvinced of the argument put forward for a tunnel under the whole of the Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty.
However, committee chairman Robert Syms added: “We believe that the case has been made for an extension of the bored tunnel to the northern end of the South Heath green tunnel.
“This would not cause an overall delay to the scheme.
“We want reassurance on how far that option will result in a deepened cutting laterally to the west of the portal, and we want HS2 to evaluate the effects of a deepened cutting on the local area.
“Provided that review is satisfactory, we will direct the promoter to work up that proposal as an additional provision.”
Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight for more to be done to lessen the impact of the line in the Chilterns.
Listed below is the reaction of key figures and groups in Bucks to the verdict. Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham “I am delighted that the HS2 Select Committee has accepted that there should be more tunnelling to protect South Heath, Hyde Heath, Potter Row and the Chesham & Amersham constituency.
“The committee members have asked HS2 Ltd to work up the case for additional provisions based on what I have described as the bare minimum to protect the area.
“I know if this goes ahead it will bring great relief to more of my constituents for which I am very grateful.
“However, the hearing was bitter-sweet as the committee rejected the arguments for a full tunnel, which would have protected the whole of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
“The announcement means we can enter the summer with more hopes in our hearts about gaining the protections which we need for the communities and the environment and we still have further petitioning after the summer recess.” Chiltern Countryside Group “The statement on the long tunnel for the whole of the AONB is a considerable blow to everyone who has worked so hard and given their all to protect our beloved AONB, not just for those of us who live in it, or nearby, but for the people of our nation.
“It is an astonishing decision from the committee.” Isobel Darby, leader of Chiltern District Council “Whilst we are disappointed that our own option, the Chilterns Long Tunnel, has not received the support of the Select Committee, we appreciate that some of this outstanding area will be getting protection through an alternative tunnel option.
“We stand by our evidence that the equally valuable AONB to the North requires a similar measure of safeguarding and will continue to do everything we can to ensure the whole of the Chilterns AONB receives the statutory protection it rightly deserves.”
DISAPPOINTED: Cllr Isobel Darby who campaigned for the long tunnel