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HS2 tunnel spoil to be dumped in Chilterns AONB
UP to 800,000 cubic metres of earth is set to be dumped in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as a result of building work on HS2, it emerged this week.
The spoil will be a byproduct of tunnelling work to minimise the visual impact of the planned high speed rail line through the area.
Rail bosses say the waste will be landscaped but residents are angry they have only just been informed of the proposals, which are set to be presented to Parliament in a Hybrid Bill by the end of the year.
The announcement was made by HS2 Ltd's Country South Area Manager Neil Cowie at a community forum in Little Kingshill on Tuesday.
He said it would be placed within a 'sizeable area' within two or three miles of the planned tunnel portal at Mantles Wood near Amersham - but he added HS2 Ltd did not want the location to be made public yet.
Mr Cowie said: "Rather than taking it longer distance along highways, we've taken some additional land alongside the route which we will landscape.
"When it's finished it will be properly landscaped and will look very nice."
But Steve Rodrick, Chief Officer of the Chilterns Conservation Board, responded: "It's quite extraordinary at this late stage you've decided you've got 800,000 cubic metres of earth you weren't able to tell us about.
"You take us for fools and insult our intelligence. 'It will look very nice'? The shallowness of that is truly astounding.
"The fact it didn't appear of the draft Environmental Statement beggars belief. It undermines our confidence in the process."
And Buckinghamshire County Councillor Patricia Birchley added: "To dump such a massive quantity of spoil in the Chilterns AONB - because however they dress it up, that's what it amounts to - is utterly unacceptable. They should be doing everything in their power to minimise the impact.
"The idea hasn't just occurred to you. You've thought about the spoil problem for a couple of years - this proposal should have been in the draft Environmental Statement so it could have been commented on. You are adding insult to injury by claiming this is a response to local concerns.
"They have never asked whether we would rather have more construction traffic and the spoil taken away, or less traffic and the spoil dumped locally."
Mr Cowie said the plans would help minimise traffic disruption on the single carriageway A413 and B485 in the area where building work is scheduled to take place.
In a later statement, HS2 Ltd said: "We will not being be depositing spoil/excavated materials from tunnelling in the AONB – it will be excavated materials from the cuttings going through the AONB. All tunnelling excavated materials from that part of the line will be taken out via the Colne Valley construction site."
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