High Speed 2 (HS2) - Latest Developments

High Speed 2 (HS2) – Latest Developments

The Chilterns Conservation Board welcomes the Independent Review of High Speed 2 (HS2), the proposed new high speed rail line between London and Birmingham. As soon as the project was announced, the Chilterns Conservation Board, along with many other local groups and individuals, argued that the route should not pass right through the middle of the protected landscape of the Chilterns AONB.

Now that plans are developed, we know the heavy environmental cost of HS2 on the Chilterns, including:

  • Dramatic changes in landform and the construction of vast concrete structures including two squat viaducts, tunnel portals, together with a new wirescape of overhead line electrification equipment, noise barriers and high fencing – all at odds with the natural beauty of a protected landscape
  • Constant assault on tranquility, from both the noise and visual disturbance of trains passing at high speed every few minutes through the Misbourne valley
  • Physical interruption of many rights of way – including the internationally significant Ridgeway National Trail and the Chilterns Cycle Way – both used annually by thousands of people for relaxation and recreation, with recognised benefits to health and wellbeing
  • The permanent loss of irreplaceable ancient woodland
  • Loss of key elements of the Chilterns’ cultural heritage – including ancient sunken greenways and one of the remaining sections of the Grim’s Ditch scheduled monument
  • Loss of historic hedgerows and field patterns and fragmentation of habitats and wildlife corridors – directly contrary to the Lawton principles of ‘bigger, better and more joined up’ habitats
  • Concerns that HS2 tunnels beneath the River Misbourne will impact on water draining through the fragile chalk and affect the flow of the Misbourne, and other rivers, in addition to water quality. The Chilterns chalk aquifer not only supplies fresh drinking water to many people in the south east of England, but it is also the source of nine of the UK’s internationally important chalk streams
  • Direct loss of protected wildlife species. For example, HS2 Ltd has acknowledged that all barn owls living and hunting within a 6km wide corridor of the HS2 route will be killed.

Since the HS2 route was first announced in 2010, the nation’s – and the Government’s – understanding and appreciation of the value of our natural world has significantly increased. We believe that the context of HS2 has changed considerably since Parliament approved the project and take the view that, to continue with HS2, would not only be damaging to the environment and people’s wellbeing but also be directly contradictory to key Government policies and ambitions.

Chilterns ANOB

Chilterns ANOB

The world has changed. It’s not too late, it’s time to reconsider HS2

Related news

HS2: more sinkholes open up in the Chilterns

We are aware of a further two sinkholes appearing in farmed fields between Sibley’s Coppice and Frith Hill.

Hyde Heath Sinkhole

We have been made aware of a second sinkhole occurring above one of the HS2 tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in Hyde Heath.

Chilterns Conservation Board’s position on the cancellation of the Northern Leg of High Speed 2

The announcement by the Prime Minister cancelling HS2 north of Birmingham undermines the justification for the remaining section of the route.


Chilterns ANOB
Chilterns ANOB

Challenging HS2

Find out how we are actively working to hold HS2 and their contractors to account, to reduce environmental damage and seek the best designs possible.
Chilterns ANOB

The Management Plan for the Chilterns National Landscape

The Management Plan sets out the policies and actions to be followed by all stakeholders to conserve and enhance this special place. The current Plan (“the Chilterns AONB Management Plan 2019-24”) has been extended to March 2025 and is currently under review.