Reflections on the test event at the Olympic rowing venue
I admit to a special interest in the Eton Dorney venue for the Olympic and Parlaympic rowing and canoeing events. As a local resident I have reservations about the impact of the event on traffic in the area but as Chair of CSL I think it is a wonderful venue and if the sun shines as it did when I visited the test event it should prove to be a stunning backdrop to the event on which high hopes of British success are pinned.
In common with other test events, LOCOG has demonstrated that waste management to achieve zero to landfill will be a massive challenge. This is a high quality problem in a way, if it was easy they would not be setting new standards. Our Sustainable Games Preparation review will be published later this year and will throw more light on our view of LOCOG’s preparations generally, but I could not fault the commitment of all concerned on the day to deliver ground-breaking sustainability objectives during the Games.
This was a test event for competitors, not spectators. Eton Dorney is relatively unique in that it is a semi-rural site with no walkable access to public transport. This means that spectators will be transported by bus from railway stations at Windsor, Slough and Maidenhead and from park and ride sites nearby. During the Olympic Games, 30,000 spectators per day will be transported to Windsor race course where they will access the site via a temporary bridge over the river Thames. Some trees will need to be removed to achieve this but ecological plans to deal with this are in place. Windsor race course is accustomed to dealing with large crowds and the plans for transportation and crowd control are well advanced. During the Paralympic Games the number of spectators will drop to 10,000 but access via the race course is not possible due to another event. This means all spectators will be transported via a relatively narrow road leading the traditional main entrance to the venue. This may cause local congestion and air quality problems which need to be fully explored.
The Thames will be used for practice and there are plans to upgrade the towpath to accommodate this. We believe this upgrade should be permanent to support the legacy of the Thames as a public amenity.
On the site it was great to see competitors taking advantage of the splendid bikes supplied by BMW to explore the Thames and the many local paths with great access to the area’s biodiversity. Hopefully the Games will encourage more people to visit this attractive part of the world.