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London to Birmingham rail link through Chilterns

PUBLISHED: 09:32 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:45 28 February 2013

London to Birmingham rail link through Chilterns

London to Birmingham rail link through Chilterns

Residents and conservationists in the Chilterns have reacted angrily to the Government's proposed high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham which was unveiled yesterday (March 11, 2010)...

High speed rail link through the Chilterns


London to Birmingham rail link through Chilterns



Residents and conservationists in the Chilterns have reacted angrily to the Governments proposed high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham which was unveiled yesterday (March 11.)



The proposed high speed rail route from London to Birmingham will pass through the Misbourne Valley past Chalfont St Giles, Amersham and Wendover, one of the most scenic valleys in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Chalfont St Giles was home to the poet John Milton and his cottage is still preserved there. The Misbourne Valley is home to the Misbourne chalk stream and several areas of historic parkland.


The Chilterns Conservation Board say the line is not in the national interest and should not be built through the Chilterns.The Board believes that the net benefits of the new line, both environmental and economic, have not been proven and therefore there is not a strong enough case to justify causing irreversible damage to the Chilterns AONB.


The Chilterns is protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the same family as National Parks its countryside is nationally important,

says Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board.

It is not an appropriate place for any major development. Even if High Speed 2 is considered to be in the national interest that case has yet to be proven and accepted as beyond doubt. In our view there are realistic alternatives to achieving the same environmental and economic gains.


AONBs, like National Parks, are designated as some of our finest countryside. National planning law states that major development within an AONB can only be considered if it is clearly in the national interest and cannot go anywhere else. The Conservation Board does not believe that High Speed 2 meets either of these tests.


The building and operating of the High Speed 2 line will have significant environmental costs. There will be irreversible damage to the nationally-protected landscapes of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thousands of acres of farmland and woodland will be lost, thousands of trees felled, hedges grubbed up. The millions of tonnes of concrete and steel used to build the line and all the accompanying infrastructure will generate a large quantity of carbon dioxide emissions which must be taken into account when calculating the carbon efficiency of journeys on the new line.


I have told Lord Adonis that we oppose the routing of the new high speed rail line through the Chilterns. I expect we will get strong support from local people,

says Sir John Johnson, Chairman of the Chilterns Conservation Board.

Lord Adonis has promised there will be lengthy consultation with local communities before taking a final decision. He has agreed to visit the Chilterns to see for himself what the potential impact might be and I look forward to welcoming him.


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