Friday, 27 November 2009

No newts is good news

Thought I'd share with you some birds' eye views of the 2012 Olympic Park in Stratford, east London. (Just click on each image to big them up!) Excuse the poor quality. I snapped these on 28 October, a damp and dull morning.

Games events at the Olympic Stadium (above) will attract 80,000 capacity crowds. Another 17,000 will be seated beneath the Pringle-shaped roof of the Aquatics Centre (below).

My vantage point was a balcony at the top of the Omega Works apartment block on Fish Island (see photo on previous post). The Olympic Delivery Authority leases a flash penthouse to give hacks and snappers an overview of one of Europe’s biggest ever construction sites. Apparently, Amy Winehouse is a neighbour. But Amy wasn't home so my host was Hugh Sumner, the ODA's Transport Director. Over 400,000 people could rock up at Stratford on busy Games days. If transport chaos ensues, the buck will stop with Sumner. 

However, I found Sumner to be bullish. The ODA’s Transport Plan will work, he told me. You can't argue  with a confident man, though I did try. You can read my encounter with Sumner in the latest edition of RAIL magazine (Issue 631. A few copies still grace WH Smith’s shelves).

The 633-acre Olympic Park site once comprised filthy canals and rivers, silting through a labyrinth of roads, rail lines, sidings, goods yards and a rail freight terminal. It was dotted with allotments, a greyhound stadium, derelict land, warehouses, and salvage yards. For folks in possession of hundreds of used car tyres, the river was a popular dumping spot.

The low-lying, marshy land needed extensive decontamination for the Games. Immense ‘soil hospitals’ processed site soils and canal silt for reuse (above). 
Over 200 buildings were demolished.
Power cables were moved into two new 6km tunnels. 
Overhead pylons were removed. 
New sewerage pipes was installed. 
Thickets of invasive Japanese knotweed were destroyed. 
Before the diggers tasted earth, the ODA proudly boast 2000 newts and 100 common toads were ‘translocated’ from the rivers. 
‘Cute newts scoot’ croaked the front page headline of Pond Life...

More about London 2012 in future posts.

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