The Government has agreed to extend the HS2 tunnel through the Chilterns to beyond South Heath.
The move follows recommendations from the HS2 select committee to do this in order to mitigate the impact of the line.
An announcement was made on the subject today (Friday, August 28) and will involve an amendment being made to the HS2 hybrid bill to extend the deep bored tunnel 2.6km to a new portal just past South Heath.
By continuing the main tunnel all the way past the village, the government says that there will now no longer be a need for a separate ‘green tunnel’, designed to reduce noise and help blend the line into the landscape.
It will also mean that the scale and duration of construction activity will be reduced, and that 12 hectares of woodland in Mantle’s Wood, Sibley’s Coppice and Farthings Wood will be saved.
The HS2 select committee visited the Chilterns earlier this year and has been hearing petitions from people living in the area.
It made the recommendations having heard several arguments about the increased need for mitigation.
However, it has not so far accepted the case for a ‘Chilterns Long Tunnel’ which would have seen the whole of the HS2 line through the Chilterns Area of Natural Beauty buried underground, and says that it is not likely to be persuaded of this argument.
Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, has also been lobbying the Department for Transport to make the changes.
Transport minsiter Robert Goodwill said: “We are committed to listening to the communities that live along the HS2 route as we deliver the railway’s important national benefits.
“These new proposals will protect woodland and mean less disruption for people living nearby. It is essential that we take their views into account so that we build this vital railway in the best way possible.”
Alison Munro, HS2 managing director of development, said: “HS2 is determined to keep the environmental impact of the project as small as possible and we recognise the importance of listening to stakeholders and local communities as we continue to develop the scheme.
“Major infrastructure projects like HS2 will always be about striking a balance between engineering, cost and environmental impacts. We will remain open to potential design improvements and I believe today’s proposals would deliver a successful long-term solution for South Heath, Hyde Heath, Great Missenden and the wider area.”