Preventing Highways England's prejudicial intervention
Oct 17, 2020 —
In our last update, we told you how Highways England was intending to infill a section of Queensbury Tunnel below one of its ventilation shafts, creating another unnecessary blockage and adding further cost to any repair scheme for reopening.
In an effort to prevent this prejudicial intervention, a landowner has offered to restart a pumping station which was closed in 2018. This would allow Highways England to dewater the tunnel at the shaft - which currently has deep floodwater below it - and instead install steel strengthening panels and sprayed concrete, an approach they’ve taken elsewhere in the tunnel.
Without citing any solid reason, Highways England has told the landowner that it “cannot accept” the offer which means the plug is likely to be progressed.
So we’re asking you to write to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, asking him to intervene.
The key points that need to be made are:
* The concrete plug is only being considered because there is 4.6 metres of floodwater below the shaft which wouldn’t be there if Highways England had paid the £50 annual rent on the pumping station.
* Highways England has had almost three years to reach a new agreement with the landowner to restart the pumping equipment, but they have made no meaningful attempt to do so. This failure has so far cost the taxpayer more than £4 million.
* The landowner’s offer facilitates an established method of strengthening being used at the shaft which is preferable from an engineering perspective, reduces costs by around £0.5M, eases the logistical difficulties associated with the concrete plug, exposes the contractor’s workforce to significantly less risk and would add nothing to the cost of reopening the tunnel.
* Any refusal to even discuss the offer would confirm the views expressed from the outset by supporters of the tunnel’s reopening - that Department for Transport and Highways England officials are determined to place as many obstacles as possible in the way of a beneficial future for the structure.
* We ask the Secretary of State to intervene to prevent installation of the concrete plug and instruct officials to enter into dialogue with the landowner.
You can email Mr Shapps via this address…
We ask that you also send a copy to Highways England at…
…and the Queensbury Tunnel Society at…
Please act quickly and thanks for your continued support.
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