The Amersham Society gave early warning to the community well ahead of the announcement in 2010 that the Misbourne Valley was on the preferred route.
The Society on behalf of its members is strongly opposed to HS2 on economic grounds and its preferred route on both economic and environmental grounds, as well as its destructive impact on the Chiltern AONB.
We have concentrated our efforts on supporting the specialist campaigning organisation HS2 Action Alliance, www.hs2actionalliance.org and its Amersham branch, chaired by Cllr Nigel Shepherd.
The Amersham Society helped found HS2 Action Alliance and provided some initial financial support.
We wrote in late 2009 to our members,
“Early in 2010 we will start becoming aware of the work of High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. This is the company set up by the Government to consider the case for new high speed rail services between London and Scotland. In the first instance, it has been asked to focus its attention where existing capacity is likely to be most constrained – between London and the West Midlands and is tasked to report to the government with a detailed recommendation by December 2009. This means inevitably recommending a route through the Chiltern AONB which is of concern to us in Amersham whether it potentially passes us nearby or further afield. Such a huge engineering project is likely to affect us all in one way or another as it will eventually carve a new rail link through Chiltern countryside. This is not any rail link but one engineered to running trains at 200 mph and beyond- just remember the impact on Kent of the High Speed One Channel Rail Link. I would strongly recommend if you can becoming acquainted with more details via their website,https://www.hs2.org.uk/, as this is going to be a big issue in all our lives during 2010, whenever such a railway is actually built.”
The Nightmare Begins
‘Our worst fears came to pass when HS2 Ltd proposed that the route should pass directly through Amersham albeit directly underneath the old Town’. The Amersham Society was immediately on to the case responding on the same day on the 11th March 2010 by stating in a News Release,
“The Amersham Society notes with alarm the possible route proposals published today by HS2 Ltd for a new high speed rail link initially to Birmingham. The announcement includes a possible route through the Misbourne Valley passing under parts of Old Amersham in a tunnel and exiting to a cutting above Mantels Green Farm. The Society considers this outrageous and completely inappropriate possibility given the narrowness of the valley, its AONB status and its proximity to a number of historic and important local communities such as Old Amersham. Frequent trains travelling along wide straight routes at speeds of up to 250 mph have enormous destructive implications in terms of construction and operation for local residents and business.
Therefore any national benefits accruing from such a possible route would be at enormous and unjustifiable damage to these communities such as Amersham were this route to be selected, initially in the form of complete “planning blight”.
The Society urges members of parliament now, parliamentary candidates and those elected after the General Election, local government and other community based organisations in the Chiltern District and members of the Society and the public in Amersham and beyond to join together to resist this particular destructive option. The Amersham Society will shortly be calling an emergency public meeting to start this process. This is a huge threat to the quality of our lives.”
What We Are Doing About It
Since then we have actively supported the specialist campaigning organisation HS2 Action Alliance; helping with drafting a response on the proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme as well as keeping our members informed throughout the consultation period which ended in July 2011.
The Society made a submission in its own right to the Consultation in July 2011 and continues to vigorously oppose the proposal, utilising the specialist knowledge and greater resource of HS2 Action Alliance.