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Old Oak looks for innovations to provide HS2 tunnelling power

Old Oak

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) is looking at “really practical” solutions when creating the new development in west London.

Speaking at a London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee meeting, OPDC chief executive Victoria Hills, who will be leaving the body later this year, said it was challenging issues which had an impact on making energy and water supplies more sustainable.

Hills said one area which she was allowed to talk about were the discussions it had had with Thames Water around harnessing energy from sewers.

“We have had some very productive conversations with Thames Water to talk about how we might take some energy out of the water system,” she said. “There are some pretty interesting things up in Scotland at the moment using heat from sewers and it’s not been done in England yet, so Thames Water has committed to us to look at how we could do that at Old Oak.”

Another area which she said the organisation was looking into was how to make use of the infrastructure needed to power High Speed 2’s (HS2) tunnel boring operations on the site. Hills said the OPDC was working very closely with both National Grid and HS2 to work on a strategy to create a sustainable legacy from the investment made.

“HS2 needs to ramp up their power provisions massively because Old Oak is on the critical path for the tunnel boring machines,” she said. “Two go east and two go west and all of the tunnelling goes in and out at Old Oak and that all starts with a vengeance in 2018, 2019 and onwards.

“We are having some very detailed conversations on this to say don’t just patch it, let’s make it sustainable so that we can use that extra resource that you have created to support the community going forward.”

To accelerate development in the north of the site, the OPDC has applied for £250M of funding from the new £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund from the government. Hills said if it was not successful in getting the cash, although the development would be more piecemeal, it would use all of its planning powers to push forward sustainable development.

“It’s a worry [about the potential piecemeal development],” she said. “How do we mitigate against that? We have powers, we are the local planning authority so we can require certain conditions that are reasonable and we can use all of our powers of persuasion.

“You have to remember these are not poverty stricken property developers who are knocking on our doors.

“These are people who have come early because they see an opportunity and our starting point is we want to work with people who are going to help us achieve the great place and part of that has to be sustainability.”

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