A study was launched in Westminster on Friday which showed the viability of a 24.7km tunnel for HS2, which would preserve the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The plan, which was produced by Peter Brett Associates, was commissioned by Chiltern District Council, in association with Aylesbury Vale District Council, Bucks County Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board.

They believe that the new route would have ‘significantly less impact’ on the environment and communities along the route.

The route would go under the River Misbourne at Chalfont St Giles as far as the A404.

It would mean the route would be in a straighter line with a gradient of just one per cent, compared to the Government’s route of a three per cent gradient.

Amersham’s mayor Nigel Shepherd said: “We find it unacceptable that the proposal is to transport all of the material using our already crowded roads. Our best option is to have the tunnel. I think that it’s cost effective, we have an AONB that is in the national interest to protect.”

The idea is to use the spoil, which would be made as the tunnel is being built, as marketable chalk material and sell it.

The tunnel would be between 40 and 60 metres underground.

At the launch, MP for Chesham and Amersham Cheryl Gillan said: “For me, the environmental danger is probably one of the worst impacts of this project, it will cause a disruption to the lungs of London, it’s countryside that is worthy of protection.”

The tunnel is estimated to cost £1.85 billion.

However, the government would save money it would pay in compensation to affected homeowners if the project was overground.

Leader of Chiltern District Council Nick Rose said: “It’s a huge improvement.

“I think the government will give it serious consideration.”

Chilterns Conservation Board member Ray Payne cited the value of the landscape, the lessening impact of noise and the value of lost heritage as the most important reasons for adopting the tunnel.

See page six for more HS2 new