High Speed 2 (HS2) is the proposed new high speed rail line between London and Birmingham due to start operating in 2026 with a second stage linking to Manchester and Leeds by 2033. As soon as the project was announced, the Chilterns Conservation Board, along 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. Despite winning some concessions – bored tunnels were extended and 3 areas of ancient woodland saved – at the end of the judicial process, HS2 received Royal Assent in 2017 to proceed.
Sue Holden, Chief Officer, said: “We would like to thank all the residents and local organisations who have fought so long and so hard alongside the Conservation Board and Local Authorities to protect the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty from the impacts of HS2. Whilst deeply saddened by the decision and acknowledging that there will be permanent changes to our very special landscape, we will now turn our efforts to making the very best of the situation, working as part of the Chilterns Review Group which we and Local Authorities pushed so hard for.”
The Board and partners continue to work hard to lessen the impact of the project on this internationally significant landscape.
A core part of this work is led by the HS2 Review Group. Helen Hall, Programme Manager, leads on this work and is based within the Chilterns Conservation Board offices. Membership of the Review Group includes Local Authorities in Buckinghamshire, the Chilterns Conservation Board, Natural England, HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport. As well as seeking to influence the design, the Review Group will identify extra environmental measures to further integrate the scheme into the AONB and enhance the wider area.
The Chilterns Conservation Board was involved in the HS2 project extensively between 2010 and 2015. Documents and maps from this period are available to view in our HS2 archive.
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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