COMMONS

High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee: Statement by the Chair

21 July 2015

Statement made on 21 July 2015 by the Chair of the Committee, Mr Robert Syms MP.

We heard argument and submissions this week and last week in relation to options for further Chilterns tunnelling. Our views are as follows.

First—on the long tunnel options, we have kept in mind the potential non-quantifiable effects of the project on the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty. On the evidence heard we are strongly of the view that the case for a long tunnel is not made out. Without prejudging the arguments we may hear from future petitioners we believe it is unlikely that an overwhelming case will be made out for the long tunnel options as we move forward into further hearings.

Secondly, we believe that the case has been made for an extension of the bored tunnel to the northern end of the South Heath green tunnel. This would not cause an overall delay to the scheme. We want reassurance on how far that option will result in a deepened cutting laterally to the west of the portal, and we want HS2 to evaluate the effects of a deepened cutting on the local area. Provided that review is satisfactory, we will direct the promoter to work up that proposal as an additional provision.

Thirdly, on Wendover, we are minded to recommend a southward extension of the currently proposed green tunnel, unless hs2 report back with a very convincing scheme of further mitigation, on which we expect a report back in September.

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