The impact of HS2 on the Chilterns AONB

The impact of HS2 on the Chilterns AONB

HS2 Amersham vent shaft (Photo: Chiltern Society)

Now that plans are developed, we know there will be a 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 tranquillity, 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.
  • 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 the River Misbourne, one of nine of the UK’s internationally important chalk streams found in the Chilterns.

Direct loss of protected wildlife species

HS2 Ltd has acknowledged that all barn owls living and hunting within a 3km distance either side of the HS2 route will be killed (a 6km wide danger zone).

Chilterns ANOB

Goodbye Grim's Ditch

This video, filmed and edited by local resident, Karl Neilson, shows the devastation HS2 has caused to Grim’s Ditch, a linear earthworks, ancient woodland and scheduled monument dating back to at least the Iron Age.

Chilterns ANOB

The visible effects of HS2 on the Chilterns landscape.

Photos from 2015 vs. September 2019 taken from Angling Spring Wood public footpath.  After photo shows new HS2 road constructed  from the  Great Missenden Link Road roundabout to take construction traffic to tunnel portal.

The Chiltern Society has been keeping a photographic record of changes to the Chilterns and Colne Valley Park as construction progresses. You can view the photographic diary here.

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

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.
Chilterns ANOB

Outstanding Chilterns Magazine

Jam-packed with news and updates from the Chilterns National Landscape, now available to read online or find out where to get a printed copy.