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  • Press Release: East London skyline transformed as first Olympic Park pylon comes down


     Work began today to remove the first of 52 pylons which dominate the Olympic Park landscape, symbolising the long-term regeneration the London 2012 Games is bringing to the area and transforming the skyline of east London for good.

    The two-year powerlines construction project has seen two 6 kilometre tunnels built beneath the Olympic Park, enabling the power needed for the Games and legacy developments to be carried underground. The final phase of the powerlines project started today on schedule with the removal of the overhead pylons, each up to 60m high, which run through the centre of the Olympic Park site, stretching from Hackney to West Ham.

    ODA Chief Executive David Higgins, LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe, Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, National Grid Executive Director Nick Winser, and EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz visited the Olympic Park site today to view the first overhead powerlines pylon being removed.

    ODA Chief Executive David Higgins said:

    “Removing the overhead pylons from the Olympic Park site is a symbol of the huge change the Games is bringing to east London. With the pylons coming down and the Olympic Stadium steel going up we are transforming the skyline of the Lower Lea Valley for good.

    “The powerlines project has been hugely challenging but the completion of the underground tunnels has been done on time and to budget and I congratulate the team for this achievement.

    “The pylons in the Olympic Park will all be down by the end of the year, unlocking the area for the development of new homes, world-class sports venues and essential infrastructure.”

    Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said:

    “This is an exciting moment, and is a symbol of change for good. This is a great example of how an Olympic and Paralympic Games can help revitalise and regenerate a city. I congratulate my colleagues at the ODA for delivering this huge project on schedule. Already the landscape of the Olympic Park is changing as sports stadia take shape. The skyline will soon be transformed for good leading to a new urban sporting park ready to welcome the world in 2012 and beyond.”

    Tessa Jowell, Olympics Minster said:

    “The opportunity to regenerate the Lower Lea Valley is one of the principal reasons why we bid to host the Games in the first place.

    “This £250m project to dismantle and place the powerlines underground - on budget and on time - is graphic and tangible evidence of our delivering on that promise.”

    Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

    "For as long as I can remember the first thing that strikes you as you travel further to the east of town are these ugly structures dominating the skyline and blighting the area. Their removal, on time and on budget once again, is the clearest sign yet of how the investment in the Olympics is bringing with it the promised regeneration legacy of the future - freeing up and cleaning up land for development after the Games and putting in first class infrastructure that will all bring new jobs, new homes and new opportunities to people in east London."

    Tom Russell, Group Director for Olympic Legacy at the London Development Agency, said: "The vision of the 2012 Games being a unique catalyst to change the landscape of east London was the reason the LDA started the powerlines project when London made its Olympic bid back in 2005. We are delighted that three years later, the Olympic Park site has been assembled, the land is being cleaned up and a foundation of new infrastructure is being laid in order to breathe new life into this part of London.

    "We are currently planning the homes, workspace, schools, health and other facilities that will be built on the Olympic Park site after the Games. This legacy development will run over decades and the LDA is working with our Olympic partners now to ensure that London is left with the best possible platform for the creation of wider investment and further regeneration opportunities after the Games."

    National Grid Executive Director, Transmission Nick Winser said: "The innovation shown by National Grid has enabled the ODA to start work on the Olympic Park ahead of schedule and this has been a fantastic team effort from all the organisations involved in the powerlines undergrounding project."

    EDF Energy Chief Executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “As the first London 2012 sustainability partner and energy utilities partner we are proud to be playing a key role in helping to deliver what will be a truly sustainable Games and ensuring that come 2012, the organisers have a resilient supply of electricity.

    “This complicated project has been completed in half the normal time for one of this scale and has also set the bench mark for safe performance for all future Olympic Park construction projects.”

    The powerlines project was started by the London Development Agency (LDA) in 2005 ahead of London's successful bid to host the 2012 Games. It was then handed over to be managed by the ODA working with the LDA as well as EDF Energy and National Grid, the companies that own and operate the overhead lines. The powerlines project has involved three separate phases:

    Tunneling phase

    · Two 6km tunnels built beneath the Olympic Park

    · Four huge 40 tonne tunnelling machines used

    · 350 workers working round the clock to complete tunnelling work in 424 days - half the time of the industry norm

    · Olympic Park tunnelling accounted for 85% of the UK’s tunnelling for that year

    · 200,000 cubic metres of spoil created during tunnelling - enough to fill Wembley Stadium - vast majority of which is being reused in construction of Olympic Park

    · Complex nature of tunnelling process meant a series of obstacles were encountered during the project, including issues with soil contamination and encountering small ground movements and water ingresses beneath the surface of the Olympic Park

    · Tunnelling phase was delivered on time, on budget and with an impressive health & safety record which was better than the industry average

    Cabling phase

    · Work began in June last year to install 200km of cabling in the tunnels - enough to stretch from London to Nottingham

    · More than 9,000 brackets also installed to carry cabling along the tunnel walls together with monitoring and ventilation equipment

    · Cabling phase of project completed on schedule in May, allowing testing and commissioning of the new underground equipment to begin

    · Power then switched underground this summer allowing work to remove the overhead pylons and powerlines to begin

    Pylon removal phase

    52 overhead pylons to be removed across the Olympic Park site - 1300 tonnes of steel which will all be recycled
    130km of overhead wires to be removed
    A number of the pylons to be felled with safety wires attached to the top and two of the supporting legs cut to allow the pylon to be pulled to the ground
    Other pylons to be removed using a huge 200 tonne crane with a reach of over 70 metres which will dismantle each pylon in sections from the top downwards
    All of pylons in the boundary of the Olympic Park are set to be removed by the end of the year
    Work to remove the pylons on the outskirts of the Park, towards Hackney and West Ham, will be completed in early 2009

    Notes to editors:

    1. Images of the work on the Olympic Park powerlines can be downloaded from the link below – this will be updated in due course with images of the first pylon being removed:

    2. Safety is of paramount importance to EDF Energy Networks and National Grid and both companies would like to remind the public that only authorised staff are allowed to go near power lines. The companies warn that all power lines may be dangerous and people should never go close to them as electricity can jump gaps and can kill. Our message is always ‘Look Out, Look Up’ to avoid danger. Both companies are committed to spreading safety advice to children about electricity and our dedicated safety advisers reach hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren every year

    3. The powerlines project is a key part of the wider work being undertaken by EDF Energy and National Grid to reinforce and upgrade the power network for east London and the London 2012 Games

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