Preparatory construction work on HS2 Heathrow Spur could pre-date Consultation!

The HS2 Phase 2 route has been published. Yes, of course it was all over the news channels and papers last Monday. But dig deep, VERY deep, and you’ll discover that the probable route for the Heathrow spur has also been published.

Although the official announcement for HS2 said that the Heathrow Spur has been postponed pending the Airport Expansion commission’s report in 2015, and a subsequent public consultation, they have published a “preferred route” and opened the compensation scheme for affected areas, in the interests of mitigating the uncertainty.

The Government announced on Monday that a decision on the Heathrow spur would be delayed:

“The Government has therefore taken the decision to pause work on the spur to Heathrow until after 2015 when it expects the Airports Commission to publish its final report. The proposals for the Heathrow spur and station are not planned to be part of the Phase Two consultation. However, there would still be the opportunity to consult separately at a later point and include the Heathrow spur in legislation for Phase Two without any impact on the delivery time if that fits with the recommendations of the Commission.”

But it wasn’t quite the usual clear cut wording you expect to see in Government statements:

“To avoid severe disruption to the Phase One line after it has opened, however, the Government would consider carrying out the preparatory construction work needed to preserve the option of our preference serving Heathrow in the future. Including this work now could save significant disruption and cost at a later point.”

Sir Humphrey would be proud of that one but a simple translation would be: some construction may start before a full consultation on the spur!

Colnbrook gets off lightly. While 2 of the 11 leaked possible routes for the Heathrow spur were likely to tunnel under the village the preferred route is tied much more closely to the path of the existing motorway.

However Colnbrook wont entirely escape disruption: the route will follow the M25 from Iver (through a series of viaducts towering above the existing ones). It will descend after the M25/M4 junction via a tunnel to the end of the runway (under the A4 Bath Road) to meet a new underground station somewhere between Airport Way and the Longford Roundabout adjacent to Terminal 5.

They will temporarily divert the M25 spur and permanently divert the River Colne 650m.

It’s all Green Belt of course and will be yet another headache for the Colne Valley Park.

Harmondsworth Moor, adjacent to British Airways’ huge Waterside complex, looks set to bear the brunt locally. While mostly the route through the Moor goes overground through this former landfill-turned-park the tunnelling will start at the southernmost part.

Dog-walkers be prepared. Slated as London’s first new park in 150 years the 250-acre site constructed and paid for by BA and opened by TV botanist David Bellamy in June 2000 may have us wishing HS2 could have taken the same route as the proposed SIFE freight link – if, indeed, that does go ahead.

Perhaps an early application under the compensation scheme would provide the fighting funds to defend against the other threats the Colne Valley Park faces.

Related External Links

High Speed Two Phase Two announcement – HS2 website
The Heathrow Spur announcement – HS2 website

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