This week Conservative MP for Aylesbury, David Lidington, writes to Bucks Free Press readers...

As you may have seen, I made my second presentation on tunnelling to the HS2 Select Committee on 25 November – for which you can find links to the video and transcript on my website . My first presentation resulted in a recommendation for an additional length of green tunnel and noise barriers to protect Wendover from the line, which I welcomed. But I know that more still needs to be done.

After the presentations of the major tunnel promoters early this year, the Committee said that it was minded not to support a long tunnel through the whole AONB. While I profoundly disagree with this decision, the Select Committee do have a duty to consider what the best value is for the tax payer and a key part of their objection to the Chilterns Long Tunnel was the estimated cost of £300 to £450million. That is why I was very interested to hear about new proposals that have arisen since the Committee made their interim decision – particularly the new ‘Tunnel Bored One Way’ or ‘T-BOW’ proposal.

This proposal offers a substantially cheaper method (potentially between £50-£200 million) for providing a tunnel through the whole Chilterns AONB and would solve a wide range of problems along the length of the route up to and including Wendover. It would also reduce the construction impact by having the spoil evacuated from the end of the tunnel nearest to London, reducing the traffic impact around Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury and protecting key ambulance routes between Stoke Mandeville and High Wycombe.

I also made the case for backup options to protect Wendover if the Committee does not approve T-BOW. These include bored, mined, and extended green tunnel proposals to protect residents as well as key sites like St Mary’s Church and the Wendover Campus of the Chiltern Way Federation.

I will have further conversations with Committee members as well as Transport Ministers to push for a fair and transparent comparison of the costs of these different schemes before my final Committee appearance in the New Year. In that presentation I will also be covering wider issues including other types of mitigation and improving compensation schemes so that residents whose lives are being drastically affected by the line are properly compensated. If any constituents would like to provide feedback before that appearance, they can get in touch using the contact details on my website.