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February 2011
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Save our village (from HS2)
By Kathryn Gurney and Tim Hart

If you think the title of this article is sensationalist, think again. On 20th December the Government confirmed that the preferred route for HS2 is as previously announced, albeit with some minor changes. Locally, the proposed line is from Annie Bailey’s through Weights & Measures, parallel to Potter Row just below the ridge, behind Hunts Green, through Durham Farm on Bowood Lane and Wendover Dean, meeting up with A413 just before the roundabout at the southern end of the Wendover by-pass.

HS2 is not an ordinary railway line: it will be 75m to 150m wide and bounded on both sides with security fencing seven metres high and steel gantries carrying the overhead power cable every 50m, plus regular power supply facilities and maintenance stations with vehicular access and security lighting. The noise of a train travelling at up to 400kph every four minutes will be heard significantly further away from the line than current trains.

Environment will be ruined
Then there is construction: dust, mud, tens of thousands of lorry movements and the constant noise of construction equipment. To enable all this, local roads will have to be upgraded, and construction and worker accommodation sites created, all destroying the current environment.

This is only a précis of what might be in store for us if HS2 goes ahead, and all within one km of The Cock & Rabbit and one-and-a-half kms of Oxford Street. So I hope you would agree that a call to arms to save our village is entirely appropriate.

Following a meeting in December called by The Lee Parish Council, The Chiltern Ridges HS2 Action Group was formed. It is fully coordinated with the national campaigns (the locally-based HS2 Action Alliance and Stop HS2) and will be able to direct funds according to need, both locally and to assist the national campaign.

Please give generously
Both these campaigns will be expensive. Already legal opinion has been sought and PR expertise bought in, both funded by local donations. In order to be able to step up the fight we are now seeking donations from the community generally. We hope that you will agree that life as we know it in The Lee and surrounding areas is worth preserving, and that you will contribute generously either with a one-off donation or by monthly standing order.
What should we all be doing in the short term? Below is a short checklist:-
  • Sign the petition at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/stop-hs2.html. If there are 100,000 signatories then the Government can be pressured to hold a parliamentary debate on the issue. So please ask family and friends to sign as well.
  • Write to David Cameron, George Osborne, Philip Hammond and Cheryl Gillan. E-mail and postal addresses can be found at www.parliament.uk.
  • Talk to friends and family who live outside the area and ask them if they are happy to have their taxes (more than £1,000 each) spent on this project. If not, ask them to sign petitions, write letters, etc.
  • If you are a member of a national organisation (e.g. National Trust, Ramblers, CPRE, Cycling, Pony Club) write to them to get them engaged in opposition to HS2.
Don’t be a NIMBY
Whilst everyone will have their own reasons for opposition, the main ones are a flawed business case, the fact that it’s not green (as originally promoted by the government!) and will not solve the North-South divide as the Coalition seem now to claim. Please do not include any reasons which can be construed as ‘NIMBY-ism’ as the Government are saying that the only opposition is from those along the line. This is not the case, as recent letters in the national press show.

The formal consultation opens this month and details will be available on www.thelee.org.uk. and other HS2 websites. It is planned that several workshops will be held in the village to assist in providing information for letter-writing – details will be announced later. In 2008 the volume of responses to NATS’s air traffic consultation was a contributory factor in the proposals not being implemented, so your letters can make a difference. In 2011 we need every member of every household to respond to the consultation.

A company, Chiltern Ridges HS2 Action Group Limited, has been formed. The directors are Kathryn Gurney, John Ford, Michael Jepson, Simon Morris, Phil Jarvis and Tim Hart, who is Treasurer. He will be delighted to receive donations. He can be contacted at Kingswood House, The Lee, HP16 9NU 837328 or tim.hart@virgin.net.

Teams have been formed to focus on fund-raising, letter-writing, engineering, legal and environmental issues and publicity. If you would like to join any of these or help in any other way please contact our membership secretary Sally Knowles on knowlesys@hotmail.co.uk. or 837535. Your expertise and time will be greatly appreciated.

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