The HS2 announced the start of construction of the first of its five ‘green tunnels’, one of which will be in Buckinghamshire. 

The high-speed railway’s Bucks ‘green tunnel’ will be built in Aylesbury's Wendover, while other locations include Chipping Warden in Northants, and Burton Green in Warwickshire.

To help the tunnels blend into the surroundings, the ‘green tunnels’ are covered with earth, trees and shrubs.

Each tunnel will have tailored landscaping designs using native trees and shrubs typical to the areas such as Silver Birch, Oak, Beech and Willow.

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However, the Chiltern Society continues to oppose the green tunnel plans in Wendover.  

A spokesperson said: “The term ‘Green’ Tunnel is a gross misnomer. This should be referred to as a ‘Cut and Cover Tunnel’, as it involves digging out the soil and underlying chalk, etc to the depth of the line, building the tunnel floor and walls, then refilling the rest of the hole and re-landscaping to the original shape of the land.”

Bucks Free Press: An aerial visualisation of the 'green tunnel' portal in Greatworth, West Northants (EKFB/HS2 Ltd)An aerial visualisation of the 'green tunnel' portal in Greatworth, West Northants (EKFB/HS2 Ltd)

This will result as loss of mature trees, and disruption of the underlying chalk aquifer and greensands, which in turn could risk loss or “significant redirection of water flowing to the streams entering Aylesbury Vale, particularly the Wendover Springs, which flow into the  Weston Turville Reservoir SSSI and the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal," the group feared. 

The Chiltern Society said: “In addition, building the tunnel will require the destruction of the remains of the prehistoric wooden henge found at Wellwick Farm."

In the Chilterns, the preferred solution was a mined three-bore tunnel, as it would provide a “guaranteed place of safety” in the event of an accident, and three-bore tunnels don’t require access or vent shafts, the Society said.

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They added: “In a two-bore tunnel the alternative 'place of safety' is on a 1.5m wide platform in the other tunnel. There are all sorts of issues about moving 1,100 passengers into the other tunnel, including the need to stop the trains running in it.”

An HS2 spokesperson responded: “MPs and peers took evidence on extra tunnelling in the Wendover area when the HS2 Act was being debated in Parliament, but they concluded that a longer green tunnel and noise barriers would be a more appropriate solution.

"The green tunnel will protect the village from noise and disruption from passing HS2 trains, and we are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that any impacts on local water courses are managed appropriately.”

Each ‘green tunnel’ will be made of m-shaped double arch, and it will have separate halves for south- and northbound trains, a structure which is designed to reduce the amount of concrete required and reducing the carbon footprint, Jeremie Martin, project manager at EKFB, the main HS2 contractor, said.

Video and image by HS2 Ltd