1. Introduction: Background
High Speed 2 (HS2) is a proposed high speed train between London and the west Midlands. The project was established in January 2009 by a company set up by the government to consider the construction of a high speed railway in UK. This train will be able to travel up to 400 kph by year 2020. High speed trains have been successfully introduced in countries like Germany, France and Spain (hs2, 2011). The construction of the high-speed railway would reduce journey times from London to Birmingham to 49 minutes and from London to Manchester and Leeds to 80 minutes. According to the Government, Britain’s railways are struggling to cope with the huge increase number of passengers that British railways have experienced for the last years (dft, 2011). High-speed railways need straight lines in order to maintain their speed. According to the Government, there are not viable routes for the high-speed railway between London and the West Midlands that do not cross, at some point, the Chilterns. However they assert that the train will make full use of tunnels through the Chilterns in order to minimize impacts (dft, 2011). Nevertheless, as we will see in the next section, the full use of tunnels does not mean that it would not have environmental impacts in the Chilterns.
There are several aspects to classify its environmental impact on The Chilterns: Biodiversity and ecosystem, noise pollution, carbon emission and the structural landscape (wendoverhs2, 2011).The ministers must take a decision to proceed with this project, which, for the moment is highly controversial.
The focus of this assessment is outlining the nature of the proposed high speed railway and its environmental impact on the Chilterns AONB. Mitigation measures to minimize its impact will also be proposed on this assessment.
The HS2 Ltd was established in 2009 railway is still in a development process. It can take many years for the beginning of the construction (the construction could begin in 2018). The most important area that could be affected by its construction is the Chilterns AONB.
3. Environmental Impacts
The Chilterns is recognized as an area of outstanding nature and beauty. It has an important environmental value and also an important historic value. Human activity has had an impact on the Chilterns since a long time ago. It has an important biodiversity, and a good example is the red kite which is a pray bird visible in mid and southern Chilterns (The Chilterns, 20111). Another important feature of the Chilterns is Chalk streams, which are important habitats for wildlife and have a large variety of plants (The Chilterns, 20112). According to the Chilterns Conservation Board, the high speed railway could affect seriously the Chilterns environment since the route would have a length of 20.5 km, where 10.9 km would be in tunnel (The Chilterns, 20113).
The problem with the Chilterns is the same as the environmental...