NEIGHBOURS have welcomed a proposal that the HS2 rail link should run alongside the M40 to safeguard the countryside and ‘save billons’.
But HS2 Ltd said the new high-speed rail route, put forward by a concerned engineer, would be bad news for Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross.
People from the area have this week told the Examiner they would support the alternative plans.
Engineer Mark Bostock, who worked on the HS1 link in Kent, has proposed moving the current route through the heart of the Chilterns countryside to the existing M40 transport corridor as he believes it will protect the Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), cause less disruption and save billions from the £33billion budget.
Mr Bostock said there is time to change the London to Birmingham plan to one which would also connect with Heathrow Airport and have an additional station at Bicester in Oxfordshire.
HS2 Ltd, the Government body responsible for the route, believes the alternative will have an adverse impact on places like Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross.
John Phillips, who runs Beaconsfield Wine Cellars, said: “That [the alternative] seems sensible, the current route is a complete joke – cutting through all that countryside.
“I don’t think it would need too much work to run alongside the M40 and there’s plenty of space.”
Beaconsfield Community Association chairman Hans van Zetten said: “It’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I don’t think it should have too much of an impact.
“I guess there will always be that ‘not in my backyard’ argument, but these decisions are made at a higher level so there’s not much we can do but protest if we have to.”
Suzie Bower, from Gerrards Cross Community Association, said: “Those towns and villages have already been impacted when the M40 was built. The current route is going to have a big new impact on places like Amersham.”
Beaconsfield Town Councillor Alan Walters said: “I don’t think it should get off the ground anywhere at all – the business case is just not viable.”
HS2 Ltd spokeswoman Rhona Crawford said: “An M40 route would cost £3bn more and affects more centres, including Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe and Princes Risborough, which have a combined population in excess of 110,000 people.
“This would result in unacceptable disruption through major demolitions, severance and noise that could only be reduced through expensive tunnelling.”
n £1billion is likely to be spent on HS2 before any construction work begins according to new figures.