HS2 Ltd has published new designs for two viaducts in Northamptonshire, with a strong emphasis on their aesthetic appeal and environmental impact.
The government-owned firm described both the Edgcote and Lower Thorpe viaducts as ‘set low into the landscape’ and pledged five major new wildlife sites.
HS2 project client director Ambrose McGuire said: ‘The designs of both structures are heavily influenced by their location and our determination to reduce the impact of construction on the surrounding communities.
‘That’s also why we are delivering five major new wildlife sites alongside the viaducts with significant areas of new woodland and opportunities for valuable new meadows and wetland habitats.’
Artist's impression of Edgcote Viaduct
The 515m long Edgcote Viaduct will carry the high speed railway across the floodplain of the River Cherwell, south of Chipping Warden. At between six and eight metres high, the viaduct will be supported by 20 pairs of concrete piers.
HS2 said that 'from a distance' the viaduct will be largely hidden by existing hedgerows and woodland.
Two major new wildlife sites will be created where the viaduct crosses the floodplain, with ‘new and enhanced fen, marshland and meadow alongside new woodland planting’. HS2 Ltd said the schemes – which total 7.6 hectares – will create valuable new habitats for insects, bats, newts and other amphibians.
The viaduct passes close to the site of the 1469 Battle of Edgcote, fought during the Wars of the Roses. HS2 Ltd said initial archaeological investigation along the route of the viaduct has not found any evidence of the battle and further investigation will be completed before construction begins.
Artist's impression of Lower Thorpe Viaduct
The 210m long Lower Thorpe Viaduct, two miles to the south, will see seven weathered steel spans carry the railway across Banbury Lane just south of the village of Thorpe Mandeville.
HS2 Ltd said the use of weathered steel, which naturally ages to a dark russet brown colour, is designed to help echo the tones of the surrounding countryside and reduce the visual impact of the structure.
Three more new wildlife sites – totalling 9.5 ha - will be created near Thorpe Mandeville, including a major project to enhance and restore a small lake with new wetland meadow and habitat for birds, butterflies and small mammals.
The designs have been drawn up by HS2’s main works contractor EKFB – a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial and Bam Nuttall – working with design partners Arcadis and architects Moxon.
An online public engagement event will run until 15 November.