A tunnel on the proposed route of Britain’s High Speed 2 rail network could be extended to enable plans for a major development next to East Midlands Airport to progress, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced yesterday.
During discussions with MPs and local authorities on the proposed route for phase two of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds, concerns were raised by Leicestershire County Council, and MP for North West Leicestershire, Andrew Bridgen, in conjunction with Roxhill Developments Limited, that the proposed line could affect plans for a strategic rail freight interchange depot (SRFI) next to the airport.
The initial preferred route would have seen the new rail line cross the site of the proposed SRFI, which has the potential to create 7,000 jobs in the region, and threaten the feasibility of the proposed development.
After listening to these concerns, the government has now developed a revised option involving extending the proposed tunnel under the East Midlands Airport, avoiding the majority of the proposed SRFI site. The Department for Transport will consult on the route later in the year as part of its public consultation on phase two, and after that consultation, a decision will be made. In the meantime, the developer will progress its plans for the proposed depot.
Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said:
These changes have the potential to deliver huge economic benefits for the East Midlands on top of the already considerable opportunities HS2 will bring the region.
They also show that we are both maximising the economic impact of HS2 as well as listening to concerns of those affected by it.
We will continue to work with stakeholders, to identify critical issues such as Roxhill and propose revisions to the scheme where possible.
Kate Bedson, Senior Development Director at Roxhill said:
Our proposals for a new SRFI with 6 million square feet of associated warehousing have the potential to create 7,000 jobs, providing a boost to the economy in the region.
Since the announcement, through our MP and local authority, we have enjoyed an early and positive dialogue with DfT and HS2 Ltd and are very pleased with the decision to amend the proposed route. This now allows us to consult with the public and other bodies on our plans before submitting our application at the end of the year.
The East Midlands region is already set to benefit hugely from HS2 with an integrated high speed and classic rail station at Toton, creating a brand new, easily accessed hub station. This will see journeys to London slashed to just 51 minutes, while the stations in Leeds, Sheffield, East Midlands and Birmingham will each be separated by a journey of less than 20 minutes, making daily commuting easy.
Notes to editors
The initial preferred route for phase two, as announced in January, includes a bored tunnel under East Midlands Airport with a portal just north of the airport. The route then continues on embankment before crossing the M1 on viaduct to the north of Junction 24. The initial preferred route would cross diagonally and sever the site of the proposed SRFI, potentially rendering the proposed development unfeasible.
The government is currently minded to include an alternative proposal with an extended 1 kilometre (km) tunnel (overall length 2.9 km) in the phase two proposals it consults on later this year with any decision on the alternative proposal subject to the outcome of that consultation.
The government does not promote individual projects such as the SRFI – these are developed by the logistics sector in discussion with Network Rail and taken through the relevant planning process.
This decision to modify the route does not mean the SRFI depot will go ahead. Roxhill Developments Limited is going ahead with its planning application which will be subject to standard procedures, including public consultation with local residents.
The command paper High Speed Rail investing in Britain’s future – phase two: the route to Leeds, Manchester and beyond was published on 28 January 2013.
HS2 will generate jobs and rebalance the country’s economy, acting as a catalyst for Britain’s future prosperity and creating 100,000 jobs.
Key facts and figures:
- Eight of Britain’s largest 10 cities with be linked by HS2
- overall 18 cities will be linked by HS2 services from 2033
- up to 18 trains per hour can run in each direction
- rains will run at 225 miles per hour, with the potential to increase this to 250 miles per hour
- HS2 will deliver £2 of benefits for every £1 spent