‘Bit­ter-sweet’ de­ci­sion brings mixed re­sults for HS2 tun­nel cam­paign­ers

Com­mit­tee of MPs rule no over­whelm­ing case has been made for change of track

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

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

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