Fears that HS2 tunnelling could pollute Buckinghamshire's chalk streams and aquifer

Buckinghamshire Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board seek reassurance over impacts of HS2 tunnelling

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:54 am
Updated Thursday, 6th May 2021, 11:56 am
One of the giant HS2 tunnelling machines destined to tunnel through the Chilterns

Buckinghamshire Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board have expressed serious concerns about the impacts of HS2’s tunnelling operations on Buckinghamshire’s aquifer and chalk streams.

The concerns relate to pollution resulting from tunnelling operations, increasing abstraction of water and impacts on the flow of significant chalk streams, such as the River Misbourne.

The two bodies have issued a joint 'Position Statement', with a series of questions regarding their concerns, and are seeking reassurance from HS2 that worst-case scenarios relating to the impacts of their tunnelling operations have been addressed.

They say they are unconvinced that HS2’s approach to monitoring and mitigating impacts is sufficient and are therefore seeking urgent answers to their questions before tunnelling operations commence - to ensure that Buckinghamshire’s residents are fully informed of the likely impacts, and HS2 has plans in place to properly mitigate impacts.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Corporate Director for Planning Growth & Sustainability, Ian Thompson, said: "This is a really significant issue for Buckinghamshire and both organisations share the same concerns about the potential impacts of HS2’s tunnelling operations on the county’s aquifer and chalk streams.”

Chief executive of the Chilterns Conservation Board, Dr Elaine King, said: “Chalk streams are a globally rare and threatened habitat. They are home to a wide range of plants and animals, and an important source of drinking water for thousands of people. We therefore expect HS2 to treat the chalk aquifer and these special rivers with the utmost care and respect.”

Only 200 chalk streams are known globally, 85 per cent of which are found in the UK in southern and eastern England. Nine of these iconic rivers are located in the Chilterns - one of the reasons for the Chilterns being designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.