Chiltern Society HS2 newsletter
As many of you may know, the Government has asked HS2 Ltd to carry out more work on high speed rail routes. The Transport Minister, Theresa Villiers, told MPs that the Government wanted to see a “genuine, national high speed network” which also included Wales and Scotland. The Government want to see options that would include Heathrow as part of the high speed network and desire to link the St Pancras to Channel Tunnel HS1 line with HS2.
HS2 Ltd is expected to report on suggested expanded routes later in the summer. However, the proposed HS2 routes across the Chilterns are still very much on the table. The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond asked HS2 Ltd to continue the additional work it was asked to do by the previous Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, and provide more environmental information about the preferred Chilterns route via the Misbourne Valley, Great Missenden and Wendover, particularly in relation to noise. We are assuming that additional information will also be published later this summer.
This extra work has resulted in the postponement of the public consultation on HS2, although this has yet to be officially announced by the Government. According to HS2 Ltd the public consultation is now likely to take place early next year, instead of this autumn as originally proposed.
Thanks to all of you who have responded to our website and leaflet appeal for volunteers to assist with the campaign. Hopefully you have all received an acknowledgement.
If you haven’t heard anything further, please be patient. We aren’t ignoring you, it is simply that the campaign team are working on a new timetable of action in view of the delayed consultation. An outline of what we plan over the coming months will be announced in the next newsletter and we will be approaching volunteers for assistance where needed.
If you know of others who may wish to volunteer please ask them to email Geoff Wiggett firstname.lastname@example.org
Our designated fundraising campaign in now underway. By the end of June, £3,000 had been donated, which is a great start. This money is initially being used to assist the production of the detailed technical reports we are writing in order to present an evidence-based argument against HS2 crossing the Chilterns. We are fortunate to have a number of technical experts who are also members of the Society and they are volunteering their expertise in the compilation of these reports. However some expert advice we don’t possess is needed, and our initial funding is aimed at that. In addition some funding has been used to provide publicity material and attendance at local events (see below).
The business case
A lot of the initial debate around HS2 involves its economic viability. The local authorities in Buckinghamshire, supported by the Chilterns Conservation Board, are arguing that the economic case for high speed rail is not proven and the figures produced by HS2 Ltd, and supported by the Department of Transport, do not stack up. In addition, these Conservative councils have expressed dismay at the proposed cost of the high speed network at a time when the Government is making severe cut-backs (a view also expressed to constituents by John Bercow, the Speaker, who is also MP for Buckingham).
The Chiltern Society also has concerns about the economic viability of HS2 and the economic need for it to cross the Chilterns. We have a team conducting our own review of the business case is due report later in the summer. It will be published on the website and a synopsis given in the next newsletter.
We have received a lot of support for our stance against HS2 crossing the Chilterns. Thanks to the volunteers who attended the Chiltern Society stall at the Great Kingshill beer festival and fete at the end of June. We ran out of the 100 information packs we had, so we will know to have more at the next event where we will be represented – The Lee flower festival on July 17. We will be handing out our HS2 leaflets at fêtes in Hughenden, Speen and at Amersham Carnival. We aim to have a presence at a number of events in the coming weeks and months, including the Bucks County Show on 28 August, the Amersham Heritage Day on 12 September and the Chiltern Conservation Board’s Countryside Fayre at Ashridge on 26 September
When we talk to people we are finding quite a lot of ignorance about the HS2 proposals and the likely effect. Many people seem to think it’s just another railway like Chiltern Railways, while others think it doesn’t really matter because “most of it is in a tunnel anyway”. We obviously have a lot of work to do to get over the truly devastating impact HS2 would have on the Chilterns and the AONB should it ever become a reality (see our website pages). Please do all you can to spread the message.
We’ll be bringing you another newsletter next month. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions please . If I can’t help, I’ll hopefully know someone who can.