Chilterns: Conservationists and MP renew stance against HS2
With less than a month until the decision on the £33bn HS2 route is due, Chilterns Conservation Board met last week for their annual forum and reaffirmed their stance against the plans.
Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan was present to support the board's work protecting the countryside. After describing the Chilterns as the nearest area to London with open spaces, the MP also expressed the hope valuing the countryside will be a factor in decisions about major infrastructure projects in the future, not just for those who live in areas like the Chilterns but also for the benefit of those who visit. Mrs Gillan also confirmed she has got assurances from Sir Brian Briscoe, chairman of HS2 Ltd - the company responsible for examing the business case for it - on an undertaking that if the London to Birmingham rail link does go ahead mitigations to protect the countryside will be more extensive than originally envisaged.
Mrs Gillan also put the question forward of why go to the trouble of designating an area as being 'outstanding' and then put a project through it as though it was somewhere ordinary.
She has previously confirmed she is not against high-speed rail in general, just the proposed route through the Chilterns, but has been cricised in some quarters for not backing the campaign in public more often.
Great Missenden HS2 campaigner Shirley Judges said: "As a member of the Chilterns Conservation Board I was pleased to hear Mrs Gillan's praise for our work.
"Conservation Board staff work incredibly hard and, even though there aren't many of them, they achieve an incredible amount."
Last week the Examiner reported how the Transport Select Committee had backed HS2 but raised concerns about the business and environmental case for it.
Mrs Judges added: "The board has been one of the leaders in the fight against HS2. We have to hope that (transport secretary) Justine Greening will take notice of the Transport Select Committee's recommendations and take the whole HS2 project back to the drawing board."
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