This has been produced by Buckinghamshire Council in conjunction with the four district councils – Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern District, South Bucks District and Wycombe District.
The Blueprint has been endorsed by The Chilterns Conservation Board, National Trust, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trusts, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, Buckinghamshire Business First and the National Farmers Union.
Buckinghamshire Council remains opposed to the current proposals for HS2 and we do not believe this is the right solution to the rail capacity and economic challenges the country is facing.
However, we also recognise that we need to make sure that we secure the best possible outcomes for the residents, businesses and visitors to the Vale, should the proposals go ahead.
We therefore very much welcome the aims of the Bucks Blueprint and support the principle of ensuring that the impact of HS2 is minimised and properly mitigated for.
High Speed 2 is a major challenge. It will do significant damage to the Metropolitan Green Belt, the nationally designated Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of Aylesbury Vale. Were the business case robust, had all alternatives been examined and found inadequate and had the project formed part of a clear integrated Transport Strategy we might well have accepted the project but this is clearly not the case. It is very poor value for taxpayers’ money and far better alternatives exist.
The current ‘engagement’ process is convoluted and disjointed from the perspective of local people. The Bucks Blueprint brings together a wide range of environmental and countryside organisations to propose and describe what we all believe to be the minimum acceptable mitigation required for the scheme. The mitigation in this ‘Bucks Blueprint’ covers more than just immediate screening. It involves specifying landscape value, heritage sites, roads, rights of way, noise standards, tree planting schemes, new local green infrastructure, new tunnelling, viaducts and much more including the endowments necessary to maintain the mitigation into the future.
When announcing the so called ‘Y’ route north of Birmingham, the Department for Transport made much of the fact that it had been designed to reduce, as far as possible, environmental damage, including damage to national AONBs. We hope that by adopting the proposals in this ‘Blueprint’ similar principles can be applied retrospectively to the areas between London and Birmingham. Should HS2 proceed we hope that all will agree that it should be known as an example of the very best of British design and mitigation. An inspiration to the world and not an ugly eyesore designed down to the very lowest cost. We trust that this Blueprint will form the basis of a constructive and positive dialogue between the bodies endorsing it and HS2 Ltd, the Department for Transport and indeed the government as a whole.