In the wake of the Governments approval to green-light HS2 last week, Rob Butler immediately wrote to the Department for Transport asking them to consider the mined tunnel through Wendover.
The Department for Transport responded to Mr Butlers question as follows:
"The Wendover Mined Tunnel was considered in detail during the passage of the Phase One Bill in both the Commons and Lords committees.
"Cost comparisons of the consented scheme and the tunnelled alternatives were considered in evidence to both committees during the Bill process and the primary conclusion was that the now consented scheme would be less expensive than the tunnelled alternatives.
"Since then, DfT officials and HS2 Ltd have been challenged by Wendover Parish Council and your predecessor, Sir David Lidington, over these decisions and have presented further reports by OTB and Michael Byng (mbpc) challenging the consented scheme.
"In each instance, it has been concluded that the Wendover Mined Tunnel would be harder to construct, is costlier and involves a significantly greater degree of risk to the consented scheme.
"The Department and HS2 Ltd remain convinced that the Select Committee made the right decision when they accepted that there was a significant difference in cost between the mined alternative schemes and concluded that the HS2 Ltd scheme should be retained.
"Even if the alternative mined schemes were broadly comparable in these respects, the subsequent costs of seeking legislative consent for the detailed design change and the consequential cost of delaying the introduction of HS2 services do not represent good value for money or an effective use of public money."
Reponding to this, Rob Butler MP said:
“After the extremely disappointing news that HS2 is going ahead, this response from the Department for Transport is yet another blow. I am absolutely convinced that a mined tunnel is
needed in Wendover: it would mean less noise for residents, protect the beauty of the landscape, be better for the environment – especially the water table, and enable the A413 to be dualled in the future.
"There have been cost overruns and project delays to HS2 before a single track has been laid, and so this is not a reason to say no to proposals that are resoundingly backed by local people. I strongly believe that it is only right to spend the time and money to build a tunnel that would bring huge relief to Wendover for decades to come.”