AIRPORT OPERATOR BAA this week set a start date for work on its proposed Heathrow Terminal 5 project, despite being more than two years away from a decision on whether it can be built.
The multi million pound gamble will see design teams restart work on the £1.8bn project on 1 October. BAA wants construction to start in 2001 with the facility open by 2006.
The record breaking public inquiry into the scheme was completed yesterday after three years and 10 months. But it is expected to take inquiry inspector Roy Vandermeer two years to report his recommendations and the Government a further six months to confirm a decision.
'We have to be ready for what I think will be a positive result,' said Terminal 5 project director Norman Haste. 'To do that we have to start detailed design on 1 October.
'We need to do at least two years work before a start on site. Construction methods have to be established and key equipment ordered, particularly that with a long lead time like the tunnel boring machines for the 14km of tunnels on the scheme,' he added.
The number of designers on the project was drastically scaled down last October as the inquiry dragged on and the project went into a 'care and maintenance' mode (NCE 29 October 1998). Haste's new design team will still include Richard Rogers Partnership, Motts and Laing but will now also see key suppliers to the project involved from the start.
'For what I think will be the first time, all our designers will be working from a single computer design model which they can all access.'
The intention is to cut waste and speed construction so Haste can meet his promise of completing construction in four and a half years.