Business case by Hilary Wharf of HS2 Action Alliance

High Speed 2 (HS2)

Start of public consultation on HS2

Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, launched the public consultation on High Speed Rail on the 28th February.  It is one of the biggest public consultations ever undertaken, and will cover the Government's proposed strategy for a wider network linking London, the West Midlands and Manchester and Leeds, and the proposals for a route from London to the West Midlands.  

The proposed wider network would deliver around £44bn of benefits and would cut 30 minutes off the journey between London and Birmingham and around an hour off journeys between London and Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  In addition, released capacity on existing lines such as the West Coast Main Line would offer the possibility of more frequent, fast commuter services from places such as Milton Keynes and Coventry.  

The consultation will run until 29 July, and there will be roadshows in towns and villages along the proposed route between London and the West Midlands.  

The roadshows will give local people an opportunity to read the evidence underlying the proposals and a wide range of material explaining the project including a number of factsheets.  There will be experts for people to talk to, such as engineers, environmentalists and property specialists from HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport, who can explain the proposals in detail and the potential effects on the local area.  

Sir Brian Briscoe, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, said:  

“Our work has shown that there is a real need for HS2 to relieve the ever worsening problems of over crowding on the rail system, and for the economic boost it would bring to the regions and businesses of this country.  

“But we want to do everything we can to minimise the potential impacts of HS2, so I would encourage everyone who has an interest in the proposals to come to our roadshows and talk to us.  This is your opportunity to voice your concerns and find out more about the Government’s proposals, and have all the information you need to respond to the consultation.”

The locations of the roadshows can be found here: HS2_Roadshows.pdf

The consultation document and the documents underlying the proposals such as the Appraisal of Sustainability, economic case report and engineering report have been published on the consultation website and will also be available, for example, at central libraries along the line of route.  

People can respond to the consultation on the website at or by completing a questionnaire form which can be found in the summary of the consultation document.  

For further information go to at or contact the public enquiries team on 020 7944 4908 or

The Report

On 11th March 2010 the Government published the High Speed 2 report. It is part of a Command Paper on high speed rail which Lord Adonis announced to Parliament. The Department for Transport is the sponsor/promoter of the scheme, their website is the best place to get information. The report is now available at:  

The report identifies a preferred route for a high speed railway line from London to the West Midlands and some of the other options that were considered. The preferred route goes through the west side of Buckinghamshire. The route skirts close to some villages and towns and will have an impact on the Chiltern Hills. For more detailed maps and information visit . For detailed maps including tunnels and viaducts go to Chapter 5 in the document:  

The Coalition Government has shown a commitment to High Speed Rail though including it in the Queen’s Speech, the government will "enable the construction of a high-speed network". No timetable for the work or details on routes were given. The announcement only said the Bill would be introduced in "due course".
If you have any enquiries about this scheme and don't have access to a computer please contact the Department for Transport on 0300 330 3000.

The paper shows how the Government plans to take this work forward. On the 24th June changes by the Coalition Government to the remit of HS2 Ltd were published. This has ultimately put back the date for public consultation from Autumn 2010 to the New Year 2011. There are other elements to the change in remit, for more information please see: .

The Government has also published a consultation on an exceptional hardship scheme aimed at protecting the interests of owner-occupiers of properties particularly affected by the preferred London – West Midlands route. This consultation has now closed. To see a copy of Buckinghamshire County Councils’ response to the exceptional hardship scheme consultation please see related files.

In addition a review has been carried out by Lord Mawhinney on the links between HS2 and Heathrow. To see Buckinghamshire County Council’s submission to the review please see related files.  


The Route - A Flypast



Key Messages
The Member Project Board (MPB) agreed on 14 January that our key messages should be:

The authorities in Buckinghamshire and Hillingdon have come together to oppose the proposals for High Speed rail as they are currently constructed.

We do not believe that the business case stacks up and therefore cannot support the route suggested by the Government and are actively working on a plan to strongly object to the proposals.

We are opposed to the current High Speed rail proposals as they are presently outlined and do not believe that they are in the best interests of the UK as a whole in terms of the benefits claimed in the business case.

We are not opposed to the need for higher speed rail per se and fully acknowledge the need for strategic improvement to the national rail infrastructure but cannot agree with the current proposals as the economic and environmental benefits are not at all credible.

We do not believe that all the other alternatives to achieve the transport capacity, regeneration and environmental benefits have been fully explored by the Government and with the billions of pounds that are proposed to be invested, we owe it to the nation to ensure these are fully explored.

The overarching campaign message is: “Is HS2 the right investment priority for the UK?”

Stakeholder Summit 
The Economic Business Case
In June Buckinghamshire and the District Councils jointly hosted the HS2 Stakeholder Summit that concentrated on the overall Business Case for HS2. The Chair was Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and speakers included John Bercow MP, Steven Baker MP, Christian Wolmar (transport journalist and broadcaster) and HS2 Action Alliance. The event proved to be extremely well received and there was very positive feedback from delegates. (Report from the Summit)

The Environmental Impacts
Buckinghamshire and the District Councils have recently jointly hosted the HS2 Stakeholder Summit that looked at the possible environmental impacts of HS2 Ltd’s proposals. Sir Henry Aubrey Fletcher again chaired the conference and speakers included Dominic Grieve MP, John Bercow MP, Sir Brian Briscoe (Chairman of HS2 Ltd), Phil Graham (Deputy Director, High Speed Rail, Department for Transport), Steve Rodrick from the Chiltern Conservation Board, Pete Raine (previously Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust), George Lambrick (Historic Environment Consultant) and Mark Bailey (Natural Environment Team Manager, Buckinghamshire County Council) who talked about the BLIS project (please see links below for more details).

Transport for Buckinghamshire filmed the event, to find out more about the Summit please see the video clip below as well as read the report on the Summit for copies of the presentations, the agenda and statements from local MPs (please note that the report is a long document so before printing please think of the environment)  Summit report View video of the summit that took place on the 13th October 2010

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Buckinghamshire Landscape Information System (BLIS)

To aid Buckinghamshire County Council to have a baseline of environment, land-use and landscape data the Natural Environment Team have been working on the development of a strategic analysis tool called BLIS. Much of the work behind BLIS has been funded through County Council’s Spatial Planning funds and has taken over three years to develop. Once finalised, this integrated system will be of value to spatial planning, development control, master planning and land management professionals helping to inform Local Development Frameworks and SAs and provide an important means for testing development proposals, assessing sensitivity and impact. More information on the project and access to some of the data from BLIS is available in the link below.

Landscape Character Assessments
Key to the future development of BLIS and the need to fully test proposals by HS2 Ltd is the need to have fine-grain Landscape Character Assessments for whole the County. The recent support from Wycombe, South Bucks and Chiltern District Councils ensures that this work will now be progressing and will be finalised by March 2011.

HS2 Baseline Environmental Assessments
In preparation of future consultation on HS2 proposals, the Natural Environment Team at Buckinghamshire County Council has undertaken a ‘Baseline Environment Assessment’ of potential environmental, landscape and landuse impacts relating to each of three routes (2.5, ‘preferred route 3’ and 4) originally proposed by HS2 Ltd. Aligning to a methodology previously used by consultants for assessing HS1 proposals in Kent, a 1km corridor of search has been utilised to provide an indication of potential impacts. The assessment considers over 40 different types of asset or designation including: Sites of Special Scientific Interest; Local Wildlife Sites; Protected Species; Scheduled Ancient Monuments; Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland; Attractive Landscape Designations; Geological Sites; Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings. More information on the project and access to some of the data from BLIS is available in the link below.

NEW: Audit for Preferred Route 3 (January 2011) now available: Following the HS2 Ltd announced revision of Preferred Route 3 in December 2010 the County Council has now revised the previous audit undertaken for Route 3 in order to take into consideration changes to both alignment and associated infrastructure. The 'Baseline Environmental Audit' for the "Optimised Preferred Route 3" is available in the link below and updates previous work undertaken on the original route

HS2 Property Blight Corridors in Buckinghamshire
This document describes the Natural Environment Team's approach to undertaking a baseline assessment of potential property blight resulting from three proposed High Speed Rail (HS2) routes through Buckinghamshire. The assessments consider all post code addresses falling within 9 distinct distance buffers (moving-out from each railway line) and breaks these down into 7 different types of impact or 'Blight Categories': viaduct; tunnel; embankment; at grade; widening existing; cutting; and retained wall. This work was undertaken to support the work of HS2 Action Alliance and it is proposed that the methodology be employed by other Councils along HS2 routes in order that a full route length of HS2 proposals have been mapped.

HS2 – Public Rights of Way report: baseline impacts and associated strategy
Proposals for High Speed rail in Buckinghamshire will impact on landscape, biodiversity and people. The 3,300km network of public rights of way in Buckinghamshire is a considerable economic asset, an important part of the county highway infrastructure and a key element within the county’s tourism sector. Without adequate crossings, proposals will have substantial negative impacts on this high quality network; affecting route connectivity, amenity and the public’s quiet enjoyment of the countryside. Initially this report provides an assessment of the likely impacts on the ROW network. Further it sets out the broad principles that would need to be adopted undertaken should any of the routes proceed. HS2 Ltd are requested to take on-board this baseline report and to ensure that Buckinghamshire County Council and relevant partners are engaged in the design and implementation of alternatives or mitigation at an early stage of any development for HS2 proceeding. Rights of Way Report 


Fact finding trip to see High Speed 1 (HS1)
On the 30th July 2010 a delegation of Members and Officers from Buckinghamshire Councils as well representatives from interest groups visited Kent to find out more about the effects of High Speed 1. To find out more about this trip please see the video clip below as well as read the notes on the HS1 Trip


For more information call 0300 3303000 or email


Related files (you may need Acrobat Reader to open)

-                     Our leaflet about the High Speed Rail link proposal (PDF 1709KB)
Find out more about the Government's proposals, key facts, preferred route and what will happen next.

-                     Letter to Lord Mawhinney about HS2 links to Heathrow (PDF 151KB)

-                     Our response to EHS (PDF 151KB)

-                     Baseline Environment Assessement: Route 2.5 (PDF 14835KB)

-                     Baseline Environment Assessement: Route 3 (PDF 14863KB)

-                     Baseline Environment Assessement: Route 4 (PDF 6420KB)

-                     Quantifying properties within HS2 blight corridors in Buckinghamshire (PDF 440KB)

Related pages

-                     Council disappointment at High Speed Two Route announcement

Other useful websites (these sites will open in a new window)

-                     Department for Transport (DfT)

-                     Chiltern Conservation Board

-                     Chiltern Society

-                     HS2 Action Alliance


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