HS2 and Wendover Dean Footpaths

The Chiltern Society have reluctantly agreed to work with EKFB, the HS2 contractors, to manage changes to the footpath network during the construction process. Two of our long distance paths – the Chiltern Way and Chiltern Heritage Trail – cross the works, while the Chiltern Link runs close by. A degree of cooperation is necessary to keep these paths open and to keep walkers informed about the situation.

Initially, things started well – EKFB ‘community engagement’ held a meeting with the Society, before announcing what they were going to do. However, the HS2 act allows them almost unlimited powers within the act limits, and so we were in no position to negotiate. We were offered two (permanently manned) crossing points – one on WEN/37, which runs beside Bowood Lane, and another on GMI/2, near Havenfields – and a contribution towards the expense of rearranging the signs and waymarking for our paths. All other routes crossing the line between South Heath and Smalldean will be closed for around 5 years – an unsatisfactory situation, but one we can do nothing to prevent.

Things then went downhill, with path closed signs appearing unexpectedly, then being thrown over fences, and contradictory maps posted on the Bucks footpath webpage for a time. However, after a site visit with EKFB we were assured that the plan previously agreed would in fact be implemented, and so we could go ahead with our signs. They now plan to place their prominent red path closed signs where paths cross into the act territory (and where they can be attached to the new fences); smaller notices with maps will indicate paths which are closed at the point where they leave the roads.

HS2 have powers to close paths outside the act limits (and Bucks have very limited grounds for objection) although notice must be given, but it seems that these closures have not so far been requested – so it is still possible to walk on the paths as far as the act limits, if you want to witness the destruction at close quarters.

HS2 are still free to make changes, and for the latest information, see www.hs2watch.com/Footpaths.html. Also, please report any inaccuracies to info@HS2watch.com so we can keep this site up to date.
Jim Conboy
Chiltern Society – Rights of Way group