Preserving the Peace of the Chilterns

Chiltern Countryside Group

e mail:

Re: HS2 Rail Route through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

How can we stop this act of vandalism?

Once again, the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is under serious threat. The Chilterns is an invaluable and irreplaceable asset for the nation, for many thousands of visitors, residents & businesses and for future generations.

A few weeks ago, Lord Adonis announced his proposals for High Speed rail routes to connect London and Birmingham, and eventually, beyond. Three options were presented, all of which traverse the Chilterns AONB bringing consequent visual & aural desecration to the tranquil rural settings which form the character of AONBs nationally. Of course in addition to this permanent & irretrievable loss, there would be total & stressful disruption to the lives & homes of residents and major, possibly permanent, disturbance of the landscape during the many years of construction. We understand that one tunnel alone, for example, would take 5 years to construct.

As we all discovered, the preferred route would go straight through the heart of the Chilterns AONB, alongside the A413 and the existing Chiltern Line. As an environmental campaigning Group, we are not against High Speed rail but we are totally against this route and will do all within our powers to prevent its adoption.

The Chiltern Countryside Group fervently believe that no HS routes should go through any part of the Chilterns, whether it be following the A413, on a viaduct across the Hughenden Valley or alongside the current West Coast Main Line (the other 2 options).

The CCG do not feel it is in anyone’s best interests nationally, let alone locally, for one route to be favoured against another by any party or organisation. We believe this will divide communities & decision-making bodies & weaken the collective voice with the consequent potential to jeopardise the entire campaign. Protection of AONBs should be a mission for all UK residents which transcends County boundaries and political parties to achieve the outcome we all desire – which is to protect every ridge, valley, woodland, and settlement of every part of the Chilterns AONB.

Just under 2 years ago, the AONB was confronted with the prospect of low level flight paths across the peaceful hills, valleys & ancient settlements of the Chilterns. Our campaign against these proposals achieved much – as you all know, NATS are currently reviewing its plans and will consult again later in 2010. The success of this campaign was founded on the united voice of all communities and decision-making bodies saying the same message – if this had been diluted, it is unlikely to have succeeded and low level flights would be crossing the Chilterns AONB right now.

Therefore, the Chiltern Countryside Group urges all local residents, and those who have been elected to represent them, to object to all HS routes which transverse the Chilterns AONB, thus demonstrating the unquantifiable value to the nation held by the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which we are privileged to live & for which we have an individual and collective duty to protect.

Further, by maintaining this policy, you will show commitment to preserving an ancient and unique environment for future generations. Clearly signalling that the whole of the Chilterns AONB is a ‘no-go’ area for HS rail routes will prevent a dangerous precedent being given to those in office who appear intent on destroying some of the UK’s most valuable and irreplaceable resources – its Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Chiltern Countryside Group’s hope is that united we may strive to preserve the peace of the Chilterns, a statement which rings true for us all.

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