The Chilterns Conservation Board has been involved in the High Speed 2 (HS2) project extensively since it was first announced in 2010 and together with many other local groups and individuals, argued that the route should not pass right through the middle of the protected landscape of the Chilterns AONB.
Over the past ten years we have worked hard to reduce the impact of HS2 on the landscape. Just some of our work includes:
In August 2019 the Chilterns Conservation Board welcomed the Governments independent review of the HS2 programme and wrote to Douglas Oakervee, Chair of the HS2 Review setting out our deep concerns for the irrevocable damage to the natural beauty and tranquillity of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). You can read our letter here.
The Oakervee review of HS2 concluded in February 2020 and we were deeply saddened to discover the recommendation that HS2 should go ahead and subsequent decision to that effect by the Government. We believe that the context of HS2 has changed considerably since Parliament approved the project and take the view that, to continue with HS2, would not only be damaging to the environment and people’s wellbeing but also be directly contradictory to key Government policies and ambitions. You can read our full statement here.
On Wednesday 15 April, the Government gave approval to HS2 Ltd to issue Notice to Proceed for the Phase One route of HS2 from Birmingham to London. It did this in order to give the construction industry certainty while the country is suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the Department for Transport published its HS2 Phase One full business case.
Regular visitors to our website will know that, along with many other organisations, we continue to have grave concerns, and unanswered questions, regarding the irrevocable damage that HS2 will cause to the natural beauty and tranquillity of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Chilterns Conservation Board is therefore extremely disappointed that this notice to proceed has been issued. We are also particularly concerned at the Government’s admission in the Full Business Case that “Rapid developments and the uncertain outcome of the COVID-19 outbreak mean it has not been possible within the FBC to undertake specific analysis to determine the outbreak’s potential longer-term impacts to transport passenger demand.” 
The Government also acknowledges that “…until new information is available on the potential longer-term impact of COVID-19 on long-term demand and economic growth it is not possible to say whether this will materially impact the Value for Money of HS2.” 
Given the uncertainties created by Covid-19, we urge the Government to revisit its assumptions on passenger demand and economic growth, and to rethink HS2.
[20 April 2020]
 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-one-full-business-case (paragraph 20)
 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-one-full-business-case (paragraph 21)
Now that plans are developed, we know the heavy environmental cost of HS2 on the Chilterns, including:
Although the Chilterns Conservation Board remains steadfast in its view that HS2 will have a significant and lasting negative impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it continues to work with the HS2 Review Group and relevant partners to secure the best possible outcome for the environment despite the decision.
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