Government confirms HS2 tunnel extension – but only in leafy south Bucks

Map showing proposed HS2 route through Bucks and the alternative long tunnel proposed by Bucks County Council

Map showing proposed HS2 route through Bucks and the alternative long tunnel proposed by Bucks County Council

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People living in and around South Heath, Hyde Heath and Great Missenden ‘stand to benefit from a new extension to the Chilterns tunnel proposed as part of the HS2 rail project’, the government has proudly announced today.

However, those living further along the route in Wendover will have to make do with the ‘green tunnel’ (where earth is built up around and over the line to lessen its visual and noise impacts) – while around Aylesbury and north Bucks trains will thunder along on embankments, cuttings and viaducts.

The announcement comes after a select committee of MPs rejected calls by Bucks County Council to fully extend the Chilterns HS2 tunnel planned for south Bucks all the way to Wendover. However, it did recommened extending it by 2.6km to protect the Heaths and Missenden.

As well as ‘reducing the scale and duration of local construction activity, the new proposals would also preserve 12 hectares of woodland at the nearby Mantle’s Wood, Sibley’s Coppice and Farthings Wood’, the government said.

Transport minister, 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, added: “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.”