The initial preferred route for phase two of HS2 from Birmingham to Leeds, 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.
Concerns were raised by Leicestershire County Council and Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, in conjunction with Roxhill Developments, that the proposed line could affect plans for a strategic rail freight interchange depot (SRFI) next to the airport, potentially rendering the development unfeasible.
The government is therefore now looking at extending the tunnel from 1.9km to 2.9km, and so avoid 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.”