'News to us' says EMA on claim that rail tunnel would run under airport
GOVERNMENT officials have said they will not confirm speculation that the route of a high-speed rail link will pass under East Midlands Airport.
According to some reports, the High Speed 2 rail link will see 225mph passenger trains running through a large tunnel beneath the Castle Donington airport.
But the Department for Transport said it could not confirm whether this will be the case until an official announcement is made on the HS2 route.
It is understood that announcement could come as soon as Monday, when ministers are expected to reveal further details about the second phase of the £32 billion project. The first phase of the project will run between London and Birmingham, while phase two will see line branch out in a Y-shape to both Leeds and Manchester.
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The branch to Leeds will run through the East Midlands – and it is understood that the route will pass through Leicestershire and run between Derby and Nottingham.
Claims about the route running under East Midlands Airport have come from the Leicestershire County Council leader, Councillor Nick Rushton.
He claims the high-speed trains would enter a large tunnel at Diseworth, to the south of the airport, and then re-emerge in the middle of land to the north, which has been earmarked for a multi-million pound warehousing development.
Rugby-based industrial development firm Roxhill is looking to create the £300 million scheme on farmland between Castle Donington, Hemington, Lockington and Kegworth.
The development, known as the Strategic Rail Interchange, will provide six million square feet of space for logistics operators moving goods around the country.
A spokeswoman for East Midlands Airport said: "We have not been informed of anything relating to the route of HS2. Like everybody else, we are awaiting the official announcement of the detailed route."
Speculation has surrounded exactly where an East Midlands station on the HS2 line will be.
Business leaders in Derby have been pushing for the station to be in the city – but it is believed that the Department for Transport could favour a station at Toton Sidings, currently a goods yard close to the M1, between Derby and Nottingham.
In an interview with the Derby Telegraph earlier this month, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "I think what is important to say is that HS2 will serve the East Midlands and it is going to be very important for the region."
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: "We cannot confirm any specific details of the proposed HS2 route at this stage. An official announcement on the route will be made very soon."