It’s hard to ascertain whether Mr Philip Hammond meant just the Chilterns or the whole of the line when he uttered in an interview in the Telegraph “it’s not some Constable country”.
If you watch the recent Countryfile programme featuring HS2, John Craven refers to this statement when he was discussing the potential impact on the Chilterns with the actor Geoffrey Palmer.
What did Mr Hammond mean? Well “Constable Country” is renowned as one of Britain’s finest landscape which inspired the internationally recognised painter John Constable. It is situated on the borders of both Essex and Suffolk including the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley and has legal protection as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The Chilterns AONB is described as a stunning area of protected countryside only a few miles north west of London. With rolling hills, magnificent beechwoods and charming villages. It too follows a beautiful valley containing the River Misbourne.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is exactly what it says it is: a precious landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them.
There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales (33 wholly in England, 4 wholly in Wales and 1 which straddles the border). Created by the legislation of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949, AONBs represent 18% of the Finest Countryside in England and Wales.
Apart from location the classification of the two AONBs is exactly the same so Mr Hammond is either deliberately misleading those who are unfamiliar with the area or is badly misinformed. Strange for a politician who claims hill walking as one of his passions. When you check the detail on his website however he does in fact say “hill walking in Scotland”. He will benefit from HS2 then.
High Speed 2 will carve straight through the Chilterns ANOB as it forces its way through 138 miles of almost totally virgin countryside, much to the horror of anyone who cares for the environment and our heritage in this country. If they go ahead the next two legs from Lichfield to Manchester and Leeds will affect other protected landscapes in particular the Peak District National Park.
Worse still the proposed high speed 2 project is based on unsubstantiated economic and environmental claims that simply do not hold up to scrutiny.
STOP HS2 believes Mr Hammond and the government are guilty of dereliction of duty in pursuing this project and failing to protect and enhance the environment.
We need you to help us save our country and STOP HS2.