National Trust response to the HS2 phase one environmental statement consultation

We’ve just submitted our response to the HS2 phase one environmental statement consultation – you can read the full document here.

In it we are calling for a reconsideration what HS2 looks like at Hartwell House and in its wider setting, which includes Aylesbury and the several nucleated settlements that surround it.

We and others feel our own land bridge proposal, which has been rejected by HS2 Ltd in the Environmental Statement, still provides the most appropriate means by which to offset the significant harm caused by the proposed route. The land bridge  reconnects the landscape and greatly reduces the noise from the railway.

The Environmental Statement acknowledges the negative impacts for Hartwell and the wider area but only proposes some screen planting and acoustic fencing as sufficient, this despite the World Health Organisation guidelines on noise that classify the stated daytime level (after mitigation) of 50 dB(A) as still ‘moderately annoying’.

Elsewhere, the Environmental Statement arrives at the fundamentally incorrect conclusion that ‘the project is unlikely to result in any significant adverse effects on the special characteristics of the Chilterns AONB’.  Placing built structures above ground within the AONB must have such an effect. We support the principle of an extended tunnel for the Chilterns AONB.

We also question the assessments of the cumulative effects identified at Calvert from an ecological perspective, principally bat foraging, and believe a different legacy design is required. A strong consensus exists amongst ecologists that the ‘box like’ structure, as promoted by HS2, to protect Bechstein’s bats is not sufficient and that the evidence base for this needs exploring. The findings reported therefore are entirely speculative. A better design approach is required and one that addresses Bechstein’s, wildlife crossings, habitat management and treatment of the Infrastructure Maintenance Depot and sustainable placement of spoil.

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