HS2; Joining the dots of airport expansion

Joe Rukin writes about HS2 and airport expansion.

One of the questions I keep getting asked by people who cannot see the point of HS2 is “Who is it for?” There are of course two issues in that question, firstly who will use it, but secondly what it is its purpose? Lord Adonis, who quickly pushed through his HS2 plans in March 2010 before getting turfed out of office, recently insisted it is about capacity, not speed, despite the fact it was him who delivered the original brief of a track capable of 250mph. In that meeting he also tried to tell Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce that the cost of upgrading the existing rail infrastructure via Rail Package 2 would be more expensive than HS2, a blag even the DfT didn’t try to pull when they jacked up the RP2 costs last month, from less than a fifth of the £32.2bn to just over a quarter.

The other thing Adonis came up with was the oft-punted myth, based on the misquoted idea that rail usage will increase by about 10% every year, was that the we should all panic because the West Coast Main Line will soon run out of capacity. I’m not sure how saying the WCML will run out of capacity before HS2 will be built helps the HS2 cause though, when it is up against more quickly deliverable upgrades of the WCML! But in a way, he is telling the truth when he says HS2 is about capacity, it’s just not about rail capacity. Having spoken to someone who was at HS2 Engineers ARUP (the ones who last year told all their employees not to travel for work, but use video conferencing instead) when that original brief came in, he confirmed that it was about developing an alternative to a third runway at Heathrow, using High Speed Rail. This could not be clearer as HS2 is the line which joins the dots of airport expansion.

It was obvious from when the very first plans outlining the proposed Y network became available in March 2010, that the main purpose of HS2 was to connect airports. Heathrow wasn’t a definite at that time, but we all knew it would get added by the new Government. Birmingham International, or rather a plot a mile and a half away on top of farmland and a Motor Cross track, was confirmed at the start, and then you had; ‘East Midlands’, somewhere between Nottingham & Derby, ‘South Yorkshire’, somewhere around the Sheffield/Doncaster Area, and most obviously with the track that was originally shown in March 2010 going to Newcastle, there was ‘Teesside Interchange’. That last one was the final straw which led me to figure out exactly the scale of the map, just so I could measure where it was. It should come as no surprise to you that it was exactly where Tees Valley Airport is. Whilst pro-HS2 campaigners have recently tried to ridicule those who would point the fact these will be stations at airports as attempted ‘clairvoyants’, the actual fact is it couldn’t be more bleeding obvious. As the same people have found themselves admitting that the increase in the cost of HS2 since 2010 doesn’t even reflect the officially downgraded cost of the additional link to Heathrow -without actually accepting that point, I’m sure these facts will be portrayed as almost satanic.

The other thing that became bleeding obvious at the start was the environmental damage HS2 would bring. This of course wasn’t just the really obvious stuff you could see, like the 160 designated wildlife sites which The Wildlife Trusts say are at threat from just the first stage of HS2 to Birmingham.  There’s the less obvious fact that HS2 is an unsustainable method of travel, although it sounds like it must be a good idea environmentally? George Monbiot was quickest out of the blocks to answer that question in spotting the environmental damage HS2 would cause in his blog post Fast Train to Nowhere and his Guardian column back in May 2010. Besides pointing out that the Government hadn’t considered the carbon cost of constructing what is effectively a runway through England, he also noticed that; “Journeys from London to Manchester will produce 60% more carbon than conventional rail and 35% more carbon than car journeys. They will generate only 25% less carbon than plane travel”.

The reason the CO2 impact is so bad is due to energy required for the 225/250mph speeds we are talking about. Twice as fast equals about three times the energy due to air resistance- that’s why planes fly above the clouds. The only way to compare different modes of transport in terms of CO2 output is of course to work them out as emissions per passenger mile. The second part of that equation has of course changed since last year, as HS2 Ltd were originally predicting a 267% increase in passenger numbers, but when the consultation was launched in February this dropped to 216%. As that lead to the disappearance of a third of the supposed benefits; £23 billion pounds just gone due to the figures that came out of the reworked “How much money is time actually worth?” equation, it’s maybe time George redid his maths to see how much higher the environmental damage of this plane on wheels actually is. Of course in terms of expected passenger increases which are used to work out emissions, Network Rail and the Department for Transport predicted increases of only around 70-73% for the same period.

Advocates of HS2 will of course say the CO2 impact of HS2 depends on where you get the electricity for it. Events in Japan have seen the nuclear fanfare turn to a whisper, but the fact is that whilst some in Government are warning that the lights will go out anyway, HS2 Ltd have paid absolutely no attention to where all the electricity is going to come from and how much this might cost in the future, despite the increasingly evident spiralling cost of power.

When you look at the damage HS2 will create in terms of increased emissions, it is impossible to ignore the fact that it is designed to connect airports, therefore facilitating both the increase of air travel and the demand to develop in green belts. Back when big business was trying to justify the third runway at Heathrow, it was claimed that what the UK really needed was an international transfer hub, and it is clear that this is what HS2 is meant to be. It is said that HS2 is a ‘Grand Project’, which in general end up historically referred to as ‘White Elephants‘, but the reality is HS2 is a grand project which is just part of the grand project.

‘The Grand Project’ is doing the usual and giving big business what it wants, connecting up airports as they expand and delivering quicker commuting times, almost exclusively for those who earn the most. Heathrow might not have got the third runway, so have decided to redevelop Terminal 2 and a simple glance at the Airport Watch website shows you the state of play with expansion at other related airports. In Doncaster, bosses at Robin Hood have asked for planning rules to be relaxed, East Midlands have got planning permission for their runway extension whilst Birmingham have not only got that, but also funding from Government to enable their runway extension by moving the A45.

The one place which I’ve always wondered about is Manchester. The original preliminary reports said that getting HS2 into Central Manchester posed “Significant Challenges”, so at the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered if HS2 would actually get that far. The reason for those ‘challenges’ is that unlike Birmingham and London where HS2 will go next to existing railway lines and therefore through a 150 year old legacy of industry and urban wildlife habitats, in Manchester houses line the rail routes coming in from the South, which would leave a far more visible and unpopular scar. So as it is clear that HS2 is intended to connect other airports, surely the one up North that has two runways would have to be included, and if you are doing that, does it actually need to get to the city centre? There are plans to extend the metro link south and there are already regular trains from the Airport to Manchester Piccadilly, so it is reasonable to ask if that will be connection enough.

Over the Whitsun Weekend, I decided to go to Manchester for the ‘Camp at the end of the Runway’, organised by climate change campaigners and locals opposing the further extension of Manchester Airport. The camp itself was in ‘Arthurs Wood’, beautiful National Trust land on the Rover Bollin, which marks a geological fault line. The wood had been the scene of a permanent camp a decade ago when the goal was to stop the second runway from being built. This however went ahead and now the area faces a new threat from the airport.

The current objections at Manchester Airport revolve around not only a potential increase in flights, but the creation of an ‘enterprise zone’. Manchester’s ‘Airport City’ was one of four enterprise zones confirmed as going ahead in March. The plan is to develop more or less every square inch of green belt in a horse-shoe around the Northern Perimeter. Very much like the way Philip Hammond MP with his NIMBY hat on said Surrey County Council had been bribed to advocate the ‘Airtrack’ plans in his constituency (which he then as Secretary of State for Transport squashed), local authorities will be bribed to let planning applications go through as they will keep business rates in the zones for 25 years, after the initial discount of up to £275k which businesses will receive on those rates. The Governments Communities website clearly states; “All Enterprise Zones will benefit from ….government help to develop radically simplified planning approaches for the zone using, for example, existing local powers to grant automatic planning permission”, effectively a charter for green belt development.

Map from HS2 Consultation Summary p22

Map on p22 of the consultation summary document: click to enlarge

Besides the fact the home brew could take your head off, the feeling around the runway camp was very simple, that any development around the airport could only lead to one thing, an increase in the number of flights, but also that this was the wrong place to at best create jobs or at worst move them to. They quite rightly pointed to the need for jobs to the north of the city, to the areas with greatest deprivation, and were quite clear that jobs being located around the airport only suited one set of people, investors and bosses living in the ‘footballers wives’ Cheshire Triangle to the south of the airport. For anyone who is still unsure about just who HS2 is for, please look at the map of HS2 as printed in the consultation summary. It includes six journey times which will become shorter when HS2 is built. With two of the six, the ‘must see’ destination is Canary Wharf.

 

 

Manchester Airport and its’ Cheshire surrounds has a direct parallel with Birmingham Airport, where a similar vein of affluence can be found in the Warwickshire & Solihull villages to the south, around the Lapworth, Knowle and Rowington area. For years, this area has acted as a ‘force field’, preventing Birmingham expanding south of the M42, with airport expansion pushing it the ‘right way’; eastwards toward Coventry. So of course my next task was to see if this area was up for having an Enterprise Zone. As you might expect, ‘Greater Birmingham & Solihull’ is on the list for the next stage. Ignoring the fact I didn’t know there was such a place as ‘Greater Birmingham’, at least not as yet (Coventry Beware!), a general rule of thumb in the past has been that whenever the word ‘Birmingham’ is coupled with the word ‘Solihull’, that means the airport. It’s also worth mentioning that Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire have put in jointly for an Enterprise Zone as well.

Back in March 2010 when HS2 was first being unveiled, Lord Justice Carnworth ruled that the Government plans for a third runway at Heathrow were ‘untenable in law and common sense’. Six weeks and a general election later the plans were dropped. He found that the whole issue of airport expansion was inconsistent with the Climate Change Act 2008. HS2 will provide trains that are nearly as polluting (if not more?) than air travel per passenger mile, it will rip up a runways worth of land from London to Birmingham then Manchester and Leeds, and it will encourage even more green belt development, leading to more people having to travel, by air, rail and road to work at out of town businesses. I wonder what Lord Justice Carnworth would say to that?

19 comments to “HS2; Joining the dots of airport expansion”
    • We dont know Joe……no detail plans have been produced yet, and of course you will be aware that it is in HS2s remit to complete that work in 2012. But if I were to speculate, ( and I do know the area better than you ) , I could think of 3 locations which would be ideal, plus a spot in Manchester Centre itself for which basic infrastucture already exists and would be a mega boost for the area. No demolition of homes needed for a start.

    • Not quite certain what the purpose of this article actually is, apart from highlighting the bleedin’ obvious

      Airports are centres of commercial activity and concentrations of travelling passengers so unsurprisingly, major transport networks (other than air routes) also tend to congregate at these sites

      The TGV network in France has a station at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A9roport_Charles_de_Gaulle_2_TGV
      and also one at Lyon Satolas (now called St Expury?) Airporthttp://www.galinsky.com/buildings/lyonairport/index.htm
      so a station on HS2 at Manchester International Airport as the phase 2 extension of the line approaches the conurbation seems eminently sensible?

      After all a large number of flights come into Manchester from outside Europe and passengers transiting to other European destinations could then transfer seamlessly on to High Speed Rail rather than continue their journey via a connecting short haul intra-European flight?

      Just another reason to add to the long list of supporting arguments in favour of HS2?

      I’ve looked at the map and it also seems obvious that any route into the heart of the city (Gary has already pointed out the availability of Manchester Mayfield as a ready made site for any HS2 terminus station) will be largely tunnelled. In fact I wouldn’t be suprised to find that the line is tunnelled directly under the airport runway area itself to connect with the existing Airport Station site and the route from that point onwards into the city centre is either tunnelled or in deep cuttings?

  1. if we assume that people are going to fly anyway which is likely, does it not make more sense for the internal journey to be done by less polluting fast electric rail ? or would you rather they took short haul flights or car ? for many further international destinations rail isnt an option but that doesnt mean that the local connection has to be by air or car not rail.

    Also, it can hardly be a surprise that hs2 joining major cities also runs near airports serving those major cities ! motorways join them too ! and canals !

    the most efficient and least polluting form of transport is electric rail, even high speed rail,EVEN WITH the current mix of electricity generation. The main reason for hs2 is to provide extra transport capacity. the high speed allows modal shift from cars and planes which otherwise might not occur, and reduces emissions.

    if you read the atkins report in full and not just pick out the parts you like you will note that the conclusion was that hs2 is more cost effective than the whole rp package. rp2 does not offer the extra capacity that hs2 offers. why do you reject hs2 yet accept rp2 when they are both in the same report ? why do you believe the part of the report about rp2 but not hs2 ? and why dont you think that rp2 will involve land take and property take ?
    what about all the disruption and extra cost of upgrading west coast when the last time it cost £9 billion and drove passengers literally into the alongside motorways and airports ? one of those being the m40.

    although many rail fares are too high, the fact that even these have not kept pace with the ever rise cost of jet and motor fuel means that more and more people are turning to rail and hence REDUCING emissions. In the first quarter of this year 2011, not some distant and far gone era, rail travel has increased by 4.8% or NEARLY 20% if this continues for the full year. even if overall demand for travel reduces, does it not make sense to expand the rail network to shift as many people as possible onto all types of rail (especially electric) .

    i believe (and incidentally so does greenguage) that the potential reduction in overall emissions with hs2 is considerably underestimated, especially given the huge increase in rail travel I have quoted above. I also believe that the hs2-hs1 link will have to be a dedicated twin track connection that can also be used by domestic services. this could be partly funded by reducing the size of the euston rebuild. tfl also has concerns on the effect on local london services of trying to fit 3 hs trains an hour along part of the north london line so i think this part of hs2 needs rethinking.

    i also think that a connection to the coventry kenilworth and coventry birmingham lines from hs2 should be made. And a connection and interchange station on a reopened 100 mph double track electrified east west railway so that local residents will have more benefit from hs2. along with a proper hs2-hs1 connection this could allow through oxford- kent services possibly by extending the javelin services

  2. Airports have to be connected as a condition of getting European Commission funding, under the TEN-T programme.I believe the DfT are banking on getting lots of EU money to pay for the UK high speed train proposal.

    • Chinese John…..why would the dft be banking on getting lots of EU money for HS2? They already have a budget of £30 billion per year. Also, as I pointed out the other day, the UK has recently increased its contribution to EU coffers by £2bn per year, which oddly enough , is what HS2 will be costing annually during construction.

      In terms of finance, you actually have to wonder why we bother being part of the EU.

    • Is there a Euston Airport ? Or an Old Oak Common Airport?

      The airport at Leeds does not have a rail link at all, neither does Glasgow or Edinburgh…yet these are destinations for HS2.

      Manchester Airport is actually part of the Transpennine Service….but in any event , its all speculation as the detailed work north of Birmingham is actually not due to be finished until next year by HS2

  3. Joe,

    There are some points in your piece with which I must take issue.

    “Lord Adonis, who quickly pushed through his HS2 plans in March 2010 before getting turfed out of office, recently insisted it is about capacity, not speed, despite the fact it was him who delivered the original brief of a track capable of 250mph.”
    The original remit for HS2 and the exchange of letters clarifying it is still available online. It makes clear that the main driver is capacity. Regarding the maximum design speed it says the line
    …” should be sufficiently high speed to optimise journey time benefits balanced with operational energy costs and achievement of maximum capacity. It is likely to be designed to at least the maximum speed for HS1. It should also have the ability to maintain high average speed, which will mean avoiding any permanent speed restrictions (e.g. sharp bends) which also impact on energy consumption and effective capacity,
    managing the approaches to cities (especially if shared with classic lines) and avoiding intermediate stops.”

    http://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/HS2_ObjectivesAndRemitHS22009.pdf

    Subsequent statements from Andrew McNaughton have suggested it was the HS2 engineers themselves who adopted the 400 kph design speed. Certainly it is not in the original remit as you appear to be suggesting.

    “The other thing Adonis came up with was the oft-punted myth, based on the misquoted idea that rail usage will increase by about 10% every year, was that the we should all panic because the West Coast Main Line will soon run out of capacity.”

    It is not just Lord Adonis who believes this. Network Rail, the infrastructure operator, believe it too, as stated in their West Coast Route Utilisation Strategy. It is a view shared by the DfT, and the present Government, and (as stated in the original remit) is the main driver for the need to build a new railway line. The 10% assumed growth figure is wrong – did Adonis actually quote that or did you just add it for effect? HS2 are assuming less than 2% growth per annum, despite the fact that over the last 12 months passenger numbers increased by 6.6%, so the route might be full even earlier!

    You also seem to have forgotten that Lord Adonis was one of the proponents of the Heathrow Third Runway (which personally I opposed). He also launched HS2. He did not see one as an alternative to the other, although admittedly Hammond might.

    HS2 is all about connecting cities, and not airports as you suggest. Personally I believe even the planned Heathrow link will get scrapped as it is an unaffordable high-cost link for a relatively low number of passengers. It adds nothing to HS2 as a whole (except costs!).

    Manchester is a bit of a different case. HS2 is supposed to be serving Central Manchester, but there is probably a decent case for an outer Manchester station too – effectively mimicking the role that Stockport has on the existing railway. Putting an HS2 station somewhere near Manchester Airport with the main route continuing into Central Manchester would be a good idea. Rather like the existing Birmingham International station, you would get some additional traffic from people using the airport but the majority of users would be people driving from home to the airport station to join the train there. Having said that, I don’t think that only having a Manchester Airport station without one in the City Centre would be acceptable or viable.

    “Journeys from London to Manchester will produce 60% more carbon than conventional rail and 35% more carbon than car journeys. They will generate only 25% less carbon than plane travel”. “The reason the CO2 impact is so bad is due to energy required for the 225/250mph speeds we are talking about. Twice as fast equals about three times the energy due to air resistance- that’s why planes fly above the clouds.”

    I haven’t seen any published data for energy consumption for HS2 between London and Manchester yet, so I’m not sure what you are basing your figures on. You also overlook the fact that HS trains are lighter than conventional speed ones. Pendolinos are particularly poor in this respect as they have to carry a penalty of about 10 tonnes per vehicle due to the tilting mechanism. The industry standard energy efficiency measure is kiloWatt hours per seat kilometre (kWh/Seat km). On this basis the HS2 trains are only slightly worse than a Pendolino on the London to Birmingham journey – and of course would be markedly more efficient at Pendolino speeds.

    As for East Midlands airport, its main business is freight. Yes, there are a few low-cost and charter flights there, but they make their money from airfreight. It really is a field in the middle of nowhere, so I don’t see any point in suggesting an HS2 station there, as it wouldn’t serve any of the main East Midlands conurbations at all well. The same can be said for Robin Hood airport, it is irrelevant to HS2.

    I don’t pretend that HS2 will be our Carbon saviour. Building it will involve a lot of energy. The more tunnels that local people demand they build to protect their local views, the more energy will be expended in tunnelling. Running trains at high speed as opposed to conventional speeds consumes more energy, and energy consumption in tunnels is significantly higher than in the open air. However the alternatives appear to be a rail system suffering from terminal sclerosis and driving people to use cars and air transport in increasing numbers. Apart from anything else, rail accounts for a very small percentage of electricity usage in this country, so decisions on our future energy generation mix will not be driven by HS2 or other railway electrification projects, but by the needs of the country as a whole.

    HS2 is an alternative to more motorways or more air travel, not a feeder system to enhance air travel. I know Joe that you oppose the entire idea of HS2, but you might do better to campaign specifically to oppose the Heathrow link if you share my views on it.

    • I would not be so quick to dismiss the power generation issue. HS2 is projected over the next 4 decades. Everyone knows that fossil fuels are being consumed more quickly than they are being found. Over 75% over our electricity currently comes from gas and coal fired power stations. Sooner or later, at some point during the next two decades, we will be facing an energy crunch. This will bring with it energy conservation measures comparable with World War 2.

      We should be planning for a post carbon future. Politicians and commentators continue to concentrate on carbon emissions. It’s time they switched the emphasis onto ‘resource depletion’ which carries a much greater sense of urgency.

      • Finmere……considering you claim to be very enviromentally aware, I m somewhat bemused to see you appear to be unaware of the great strides this nation is making in constructing wind farms.

        As of May 2011, there were 292 operational wind farms in the UK, with 3,184 turbines and 5,267 MW of installed capacity. A further 3,854 MW worth of schemes are currently under construction, while another 5.4 GW have planning consent and some 8.7 GW are in planning awaiting approval.

        In 2007 the UK Government agreed to an overall European Union target of generating 20% of EU’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2020. Each EU member state was given its own allocated target; for the UK it is 15%. This was formalised in January 2009 with the passage of the EU Renewables Directive.

        The UKs largest on shore windfarm is actually near where I live , just on the moors above Rochdale. Its is somewhat ironic when a private developer ( hence using his own money ) has applied to build an even bigger one in …..the Chilterns, which has attracted the attention of …..a protest group. So HS2 campaigners may well state they have the overall interests of the environment at heart, but when it comes to actually contributing to that, it appears the same old reason of not in my back yard appears…..link below

        http://www.wrhaps.org.uk/

        • The main point of my comment was that we should shift the emphasis from ‘carbon emissions’ onto ‘resource depletion’ and the impending energy crunch. The point is not about the environment, but about sustainability and the need for energy conservation.

          Our current energy regime is unsustainable. There is a widely held assumption that alternative energy sources like nuclear and renewables can readily substitute for conventional fossil fuels and we can carry on with business as usual.

          But is this really the case? Run through the maths to illustrate the point.

          In 2010, UK electricity production was 381 TWh – Nuclear 15.6%, Gas 47.3%, Coal 28.4%, Renewables 6.9%, Other 1.8%

          Of the 6.9% renewables, 2.6% was wind. In 2010, 10 TWh were generated from wind farms

          By 2020, to get to 15% renewables, an additional 47 TWh from wind farms will be required.

          A modern 3.0MW wind turbine will typically generate 8760 MWh per year.

          Therefore, over the next ten years another 5,369 wind turbines will need to be built – equivalent to 206 Scout Moor wind farms.

          Don’t get me wrong here. There are compelling arguments as to why we should be doing everything we can to develop renewable energy sources. If anything, I’d argue that we should be doing more than we are already. I’m not surprised to see objections to industrial scale developments in rural locations. Wind turbines should be dispersed rather than concentrated. Every industrial estate should have its own, as could every housing development, village or rural community.

          If we achieve these targets we would be slightly less reliant on imported gas and coal but not by very much. Currently gas and coal account for 75.7% of electricity generated. With 15% renewables, they would still account for 67.6%.

          There are serious questions regarding the future supplies of these fuels—which are being consumed more quickly than they are being found, and are increasingly concentrated in only a few countries.

          Renewable energy sources might be able to sustain us in a ‘post carbon’ future, but not in the manner to which we have become accustomed. One thing that will become a pressing issue, sooner or later, at some point within the next two decades, will be the need for energy conservation. And that will include the speed at which trains travel.

          • Finmere..you suggest that every village/rural community should have its own wind turbine…..do you realise the implications of that in an area like the Chilterns which is populated with a whole load of villages/rural communities?

            What happens when the turbine has to be shut for repair….are you suggesting that the village or community it supports sits in the dark unable to cook, watch TV or use a computer?

            • Interesting piece in the Sunday Times (p 7) today ….”Wind turbines pick up £2.6m for standing idle”. Opening para reads …Wind farm operators were paid £2.6m to keep their turbines idle last month in the latest stealth charge on household power bills. ..

              National Grid made the payments, i.e. us as tax payers. Scottish and Southern energy was paid the most.

              The article closed with a comment that there appears to be an expensive mismatch between political rhetoric and engineering reality.

              So all is not tickety boo in wind farm land. Pretty good for the operators though, getting paid for producing nothing.

            • Indeed Lel…..I actually mentioned this a few weeks ago…..here we have the ability to produce more power than we can absorb into the grid just now. And yet Joe was asking in his piece ” where is all the power going to come from”.

              Well if those campaigners in the Chilterns get their way, not from Aylsebury Vale which is a planned site for the UKs biggest windfarm…..

            • Smothering the land in wind turbines is not my idea of efficient capture of energy – particularly the large windfarms. To me they are another way of using up scarce resources (in manufacture) and of lining pockets not belonging to Joe Public. Though Joe as usual pays through the nose.

            • By the same logic HS2 trains would have to slow down or stop when the wind is becalmed. We could be about to see a new excuse for late or cancelled trains – ‘HS2 apologize for the delay. This is due to calm weather’

  4. About halfway into the above piece, Joe mentions about where do HS2 think that all the power is going to come from……you have to wonder why the Green Party ( who are very pro rail ) didnt ask the same question when the electrification of the Great Western Line from London to Cardiff and the Liverpool to Manchester line was announced recently …..a distance in total of about 170 miles.

    Joe….I bet the camp at Manchester Airport didnt mention to you the fact that just a few miles to the south is another aerodrome of quite a significant size. In fact you can see aircraft landing and taking off there from the top of the multi story car park attached to terminal 1. This is called Woodford Aerodrome, and is owned by British Aerospace. Its home to the Nimrod programme……which has now been cancelled by the MOD. As a result , Woodford is closing down this year. The local council ( Stockport ) have already drawn up plans for its redevelopment, in the main its being handed back to the community as affordable housing, schools and so forth. There is also a mention in the plan and I quote….

    ” It is not considered there is demand from Manchester Airport for the use of the Aerodrome in the short or long-term ”

    You have to wonder what those protesters are doing there…..there are no plans to expand the current boundary limits of Manchester Airport, indeed , to accomadate the runway you mentioned involved the demolition of hangers on the south side of the airport. The south perimeter was also screened by embankments. As with virtually all runways in the UK, they lie on a north east to south west axis , so any runway extension anywhere would not be south or north for that matter. In terms of actual airport development, Manchester Airport futureproofed potential terminal requirements. When terminal 2 was built , the sub structure was also put in place on the apron to allow for a further 16 aircraft stands ( known as pepperpots ) to be built in the future. This is self contained on the operational field.

    In terms of jobs…….well the airport itself is a big provider of jobs to the local Wythenshawe area which sits right on the northern doorstep of the airport. Wythenshawe is also Europes biggest social housing estate, so for those protesters to tell you that only the ” Cheshire triangle set ” will benefit from the enterprise zone……is factually incorrect.

    • While we speculate upon the devious and undisclosed hidden agenda schemed by our Masters in the corridors of Westminster, as uncovered by Mr Rukin, has anyone noticed certain other developments?
      In the last few years the busy junction 15 of the M 40,,joining the A 46 and A 429. has been upgraded. Here an extra bridge has been added, bypassing the existing elevated roundabout, beautifully landscaped, but requiring a considerable area of fresh land to accommodate it..
      Last week I travelled on the recently completed section of the A.421 towards Bedford,from its junction with the M.1just south east of Milton Keynes at junction 13. Once again this has been beautifully laid out, separated from the A.508 junction, with wide carriageways and smooth embanked sides- but again, the land required for these and associated works is very considerable ,especially as the combined width, over previously farmed open country is, when you include the central reservation and side strips,nearly twice the width of a twin track railway, even one built to accommodate High Speed Trains.
      Of course, as with all these big transport schemes, the first phase will not be the whole story, because,beyond Bedford, on the approach to the A.1 there are warnings to expect queues and the roundabout junction on the level may need reconstructing to prevent a worsening build up as increasing amounts of fast traffic approaches along the new road.
      You may think of other examples..the ongoing attempts to improve the M 40 junctions 9 and 10 are all too familiar. and the widening of the southern sections of the M.1 and nearby the M.25, in an attempt to relieve congestion and speed travellers on their way come to mind.

      Curiously, I cannot recall a chorus of concern at the extra land take fears of the countryside being carved up- and nor do I remember an anguished and long drawn protest at the enormous cost of it all; probably nobody outside the Department knows- or even cares.how much..which, when compared with another planned proposal whith which we are all too familiar, is perhaps just a little surprising…

      Travelling today on a remaining part of the Great Central main line, between Leicester and Loughborough, I was struck on the profusion of wild flowers growing on the grassy banks of the cuttings and embankments,a veritable linear nature reserve, a green corridor through farmland and settlement alike- all the more so, as with Motorways, the wildlife is undisturbed by people -and their dogs.

      A final thought to ponder. I read this week that in Spain, a country not without financial difficulties, tenders have gone out for the building of another High Speed line to link with Portugal and continue the development of the improved network.
      I was very impressed, while travelling around Spain ,in stages from North to the South coast, by the speed and comfort of the variety of fast and “AVE” HighSpeed services and witnessed, between Granada and Cordoba in the south ,the stages of an impressive viaduct under construction , while we took the more circuitous route through the mountains. Perhaps the Spanish see this H.S. development as a means of overcoming their financial challenges; the rebuilt and expanded stations are spacious and attractive and largesigns boldly celebrate these modernisations- and also acknowledge the contribution made by the European Regional Development Fund.
      Yes folks, whether or not we decide to go down the High Speed path, we are helping to fund it elsewhere. .

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