HS2 Green Light Announcement – Amersham Society Commentary

12 Jan 2012

The two most striking points about the announcement by Justine Greening on Tuesday 10th Jan, were:

  1. The Radical Route Realignment in Old Amersham.
  2. The Economic and Environmental Arguments remain very unconvincing.

Route Realignment

If the railway is built, its adverse impact on Old Amersham will have been greatly mitigated, apart from two tunnel escape shafts conveniently located next to road access and the disruption during the extended construction phase to be defined.

The proposed route now moves to the South of the Old Town Conservation area and the bypass, taking it away from all existing buildings and structures and towards Coleshill and underneath the North West end of Shardeloes Lake: See http://assets.dft.gov.uk/hs2-maps-20120110.htm Map 7.        

Further down the line towards Missenden and Wendover matters have been improved on the alignment, but not anywhere near to the degree in Old Amersham, so we still need show solidarity with our friends and neighbours there.

The Economic Arguments

The lead article in the Financial Times, the day following the announcement was entitled, “Doubts over value of HS2” which really says it all, as it while reported the economic case for the first stage, ”had weakened so much over the past year that the London to Birmingham section is now considered ‘low’ value for money according to official calculations.”

The Environment

Less has been said about the environmental impact but common sense about the physical impact and more recent comparative analysis about relative carbon footprints of different means of travel suggest there is not a good pro case here either, quite apart from any aesthetic considerations concerning the Chiltern AONB.

The Society continues to oppose HS2.