Chilterns HS2 tunnel would save country £500m

Monday 2 December 2013

Putting HS2 in a tunnel under the whole of the Chilterns AONB would save the country at least £500 million by avoiding negative impacts on landscape, wildlife, heritage assets and people’s health and well-being, according to a report published today.

Under Government plans just under half of the HS2 line through the Chilterns will be in a bored tunnel, with the remaining 11km of line in deep cuttings, embankments, viaducts and ‘green’ tunnels (cuttings with a lid on). A report by Peter Brett Associates, commissioned by the Conserve the Chilterns & Countryside Group, has highlighted the huge economic and social costs that this ugly scar across the Chilterns would cause – impacts which would cost the country between £500m and £750m. For approximately half this amount - £330m – the entire route across the Chilterns AONB could be put in a fully bored tunnel, avoiding huge damage to the environment and communities and protecting nationally-important countryside.

Key benefits of the proposed fully bored tunnel compared to the Government’s current plans include:

  • Only 20ha of agricultural land would be lost, compared to 250ha under current plans
  • Only 1 dwelling would be lost, compared to 143 dwellings lost or significantly affected under current plans
  • Only 6 square km of the AONB would be affected by the route, compared to 45 square km under current plans
  • No ancient woodland would be lost with a fully bored tunnel, compared to 9.2ha of irreplaceable ancient woodland destroyed under current plans.

“It is clear that a fully bored tunnel under the whole of the Chilterns AONB represents far better value to the country than the current proposals from the Government,” says Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer at the Chilterns Conservation Board. “On top of that, putting HS2 in a tunnel would save the Government having to pay out up to £150 million in compensation for property blight.  It is a no-brainer that a tunnel makes economic, environmental and social sense.”

The Government’s own Natural Environment White Paper (published in June 2011) references the Chilterns AONB as a “national treasure” and states: “… year by year, the erosion of our natural environment is losing us benefits and generating cost.”

Conserve the Chilterns & Countryside are launching the report today at 2.30pm at an event in Portcullis House hosted by the Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP.

Read the full report on the Assessment of Non-Market Effects of the Proposed HS2 Scheme compared to the Alternative Scheme on the HS2 Map and Documents page.


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