Commenting on the publication of the HS2 Bill Select Committee report earlier this week Nicola Briggs London and South East Director for the National Trust said, “We are disappointed that the Select Committee have not supported a long tunnel under the Chilterns. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are designated to protect their importance to the nation. HS2 as the nation’s biggest infrastructure project for decades should have the best mitigation for its route through the AONB. This is why we have supported calls for a fully bored tunnel.
“However we do welcome the recommendations that HS2 Ltd should engage better with local communities affected by the proposals. We believe that with good community engagement HS2 Ltd will be better able to deliver a railway that is sensitive to local needs rather than just creating negative impacts.
“The National Trust listened carefully to what local residents and experts told us which helped us put the best proposals to HS2 Ltd as to create the best solutions for all. So we are pleased that we have successfully negotiated with the Secretary of State that HS2 Ltd will undertake proposals that will offer better protection for the special places in our care”.
The outcomes of these negotiations are:
Hartwell House – Aylesbury
HS2Ltd have agreed to the adoption of our Green Banks proposal at Hartwell House which better merges HS2 into this historic part of the Aylesbury Vale. This option will help to minimise the visual and noise impacts of HS2, and deliver better public access over the line whilst still protecting the rural views and wildlife of this historic setting.
The endorsement of our proposal at Waddesdon Manor reduces the impacts of the reconfigured road network on the surroundings of the Grand Lodge. This is good news for walkers, cyclists and bridleway users. It will also reduce light pollution into the Aylesbury Vale.
Coombe Hill – Dunsmore
The improved tree planting and screening of the Stoke Mandeville Maintenance Loop will protect the far-reaching views from Coombe Hill which is on the edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and enjoyed by so many people.
Claydon House, West Wycombe and Bradenham
We will continue to put pressure on HS2 Ltd to establish better ways to both mitigate the visual impact of HS2 and the Infrastructure Maintenance Depot at Claydon House. The effects of any significant HS2 construction traffic at West Wycombe and Bradenham villages will have a potential negative impact upon local communities so it is vital that an agreement is reached.
We welcome the commitment to establish an Ecology Review Group. As this group will ensure that independent experts are able to assess whether the ecological mitigation provided by HS2 Ltd is working and suggest alternatives if it isn’t. The role of the Ecology Review Group could go further and HS2 Ltd should establish this group as soon as possible to that the most sensitive ecological mitigation is designed right first time round.