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HS2: The plans and the opposition


HS2 train on a viaduct 1: The high-speed rail link plans

The UK government plans to build a high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham capable of carrying passenger trains at speeds up to 250 miles per hour. The planned line would cross Buckinghamshire from end to end, entering at Denham, passing Amersham and Aylesbury, and leaving near Chetwode in the north.

‘HS1’ is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link which already joins London to the south coast at Folkestone. The HS2 would provide a similar line to join London to Birmingham at a currently estimated cost of £32 billion. The eventual plan is to extend this northwards to Manchester and Leeds, then onwards to Scotland.

The government – and its consultants, HS2 Limited – argue that this high-speed rail network ‘would transform the country's economic geography’, bringing Britain's major cities closer together, and so producing growth in employment, economic growth and prosperity.

2: The Opposition to HS2

Anti-HS2 logo The HS2 plans have caused considerable controversy, not only from environmental groups opposing damage to the countryside but also from others who argue that the government's case is not economically sound. Is it really worth £50 billion to cut a few minutes (estimates vary, unsurprisingly) off the journey between London and Birmingham? In Buckinghamshire opposition has been most vocal, and can be found on their websites, in particular:

  • The Chilterns Conservation Board, which has produced a set of map documenting the proposed line's impact on the Chilterns – including the impact on the historic environment of both landscape and buildings.
  • The Chiltern Society, which has produced a DVD setting out its case that the damage that would be caused by the construction of the line across the Chilterns ‘would not be in the national interest’.
  • Buckinghamshire County Council, which does not believe that the business case ‘stacks up’ and has joined other local authorities in active opposition.
  • The Stop HS2 Campaign and HS2 Action Alliance, which have run active campaigns, including meetings and demonstrations

Naturally BAS is in no way responsible for the contents of these independent websites.

The BAS Historical Impact Assessment

To view the society's own work in assessing the impact of the HS2 proposals on the historic environment of Buckinghamshire, in the Chilterns, the Vale of Aylesbury and the north of the county, click on any of the links at the top of the page.