Newsletter 67 - 23 July 2015

DISAPPOINTING NEWS ON HS2 IN THE CHILTERNS - LATEST UPDATE FROM CHILTERN COUNTRYSIDE GROUP

Dear supporters,

  • STATEMENT FROM HS2 SELECT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ON HS2 AND TUNNELLING IN THE CHILTERNS AONB

As you will be aware, since Monday 13 July 2015 until Tuesday 21st, the HS2 Select Committee has heard petitions from the local authorities, the Chiltern Conservation Board, the National Trust and campaign groups, including the CCG on tunnelling the HS2 route through the Chilterns AONB. 4 different tunnel options were presented to the Committee in considerable detail after months and months of work, in most cases, freely given by volunteers with appropriate engineering and planning expertise.

It is extremely disappointing therefore, to say the least, that within less than 2 hours of the close of the final petitioner's hearing, the Chairman of the SC gave the following statement:

'We heard argument and submissions this week and last week in relation to options for further Chilterns tunnelling. Our views are as follows.

First—on the long tunnel options, we have kept in mind the potential non-quantifiable effects of the project on the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty. On the evidence heard we are strongly of the view that the case for a long tunnel is not made out. Without prejudging the arguments we may hear from future petitioners we believe it is unlikely that an overwhelming case will be made out for the long tunnel options as we move forward into further hearings.

Secondly, 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.

Thirdly, on Wendover, we are minded to recommend a southward extension of the currently proposed green tunnel, unless hs2 report back with a very convincing scheme of further mitigation, on which we expect a report back in September.'

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.

We have not as yet evaluated the impact of the changes outlined above.

  • INDIVIDUAL PETITIONS

Many of you will be busy over the summer putting together your individual petitions ready to be heard from September onwards. If anyone needs help with this, do please get in touch.

  • CCG APPEARANCE BEFORE SELECT COMMITTEE

A HUGE THANK YOU TO YOU ALL FOR YOUR KIND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT FOR OUR APPEARANCE BEFORE THE COMMITTEE on Monday. It made an enormous difference to know we had your backing and encouragement. Our presentation went well and you can view this at:

http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/484dfb3e-1777-4ca2-b1b5-e4c8547124c8

We appear about 14.30 straight after the National Trust. You can also read the uncorrected transcript at:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/oral-evidence/2015-16/200715_Afternoon.pdf

THANK YOU TOO TO ALL WHO HAVE SENT MESSAGES OF ENCOURAGEMENT SINCE OUR APPEARANCE. These mean a great deal to all the team here.

We will keep you posted of events as they develop. Parliament has now begun its Summer Recess.

With all good wishes,

Steering Group

Chiltern Countryside Group

www.chilterncountrysidegroup