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.” 1
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.” 2
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)