Yesterday the Chair of the Hs2 petitioning Committee, Robert Syms MP announced that they had rejected the idea of a full length tunnel to take the railway underneath the Chiltern’s AONB. You can read the full decision here. It was a decision that surprised no-one but a few fundamentalist antis & those naive enough not to understand the issues.
The idea was always a non-starter. there’s lots of reasons why but the main ones are cost & (perhaps more importantly) the precedence it would create. If new transport corridors like Hs2 have to be buried under the Chilterns, what would happen when any have to pass through other AONBs or National Parks? After all, there are 46 AONBs covering 18% of the UK. Many of them are grouped to the North West of London, as this map shows (Interestingly, it also shows how the Chilterns is one of the smallest AONBs). It was an impossible demand & the Committee sensibly rejected it.
Whisper it, but the Chilterns aren’t particularly special. Only 5% of the AONB is virgin landscape. The other 95% is man made. It’s an area already criss-crossed by railways & motorways & I don’t see the local anti’s clamoring to have building restrictions applied that might prevent land being taken by factories etc. Let’s be honest, much of this is about protecting a few folks house prices as much as it is about the environment.
Of course, this decision doesn’t bode well for the anti’s other ridiculous demand – that the Euston terminus is abandoned & Hs2 is terminated at Old Oak Common instead.