||March Contents Page
The Chiltern Long Tunnel
Never mind the General Election, 7th May will also see the current Chiltern District Council come to an end. This is the time when, every four years, we, as elected members, have to stand before our electorate as candidates and justify our existence. This last council has been extraordinary, totally dominated by HS2 which is probably the greatest potential catastrophe we are ever likely to see here in our rolling Chiltern Hills.
From the moment we became aware of HS2, everything changed. We set up an HS2 Ops Room and seconded some staff from other departments to work on aspects of the likely impact – from landscaping to noise. We contributed to a detailed legal challenge which sadly did not succeed. Very early on it was obvious that, if the project went ahead, it would be best mitigated by a tunnel through the AONB, but it was the work done by CRAG that led us to believe that the idea was a serious possibility. We instructed Peter Brett Associates to carry out a feasibility study and several possible routes emerged; our emphasis was on the geology of the hills... and so it has continued. It is bizarre tunnel design by HS2 Ltd that has a track rising up to the top of a hill at a gradient of 1:33 and then pops out to run down the other side on the surface. Why not tunnel straight through? We will shortly publish details of ‘The Chiltern Long Tunnel’ which is fully bored throughout its length.
It takes over from the Government scheme tunnel at Mantles Wood (but deeper in the ground) and continues on the same horizontal track as HS2, but just after South Heath the horizontal track deviates slightly from the proposed scheme to take the line further away from Wendover. The proposed north portal will be slightly to the west of Wendover.
We have to present our ideas to HS2 when we next meet and there is no certainty that they will agree. If they do not, then it will be our task to convince the Select Committee when we petition that this solution is to everybody’s advantage. Our countryside will be saved from destruction, the villages will be spared the disruption and the hideous proposed viaduct at Wendover Dean will be unnecessary. Above all, there will be no noise.
Let us hope that the political composition of the new council on 8th May will be as resolute in opposition to HS2 as the current one!
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