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Mayor plans removal of crane from Vauxhall helicopter crash site

The tower crane hit by a helicopter in Vauxhall this morning will be removed in the next few days as investigations continue into whether the structure was properly lit.

Engineers will assess the safety of the remaining structure before devising a lifting plan for removing dangerous parts, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The London Mayor’s office said specialists would be brought in to work with the Greater London Authority on removing the crane over the coming days.

The safety of the public and workers “will be a priority in the safe removal of the dangerous parts of the structure”, said the HSE, but no salvageable parts of the crane will be put back into service “without a full and comprehensive engineering examination”.

HSE experts will on hand to monitor work on the crane as the agency works with the Air Incident Investigation Branch of the Civil Aviation Authority to determine “whether those in charge of the construction site discharged their legal duties”.

Two people were killed and 13 more injured this morning when a commercial helicopter crashed into the tower crane on St George’s Wharf, also known as the Vauxhall Tower.

The tower is being developed by Berkeley subsidiary St George and was scheduled for completion this year. It is due to reach 52 storeys when complete.

The Press Association reported that lights were in place on top of the crane, and were checked twice a day, including yesterday. 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson told reporters this evening: “We are very confident that the crane is now secure and that that problem will be sorted out shortly.”

“There are all sorts of questions that are being asked now, about tall buildings, about lighting, about fog, about air traffic going into Battersea heliport, but these are questions that hopefully the CAA will learn the answers to shortly.”

David Cameron said earlier during Prime Minister’s questions that the rules governing flights over the capital should be reviewed.

According to CAA regulations, structures above a height of 150m must be lit at their apex and along the length of the tower, at maximum intervals of 52m.

A CAA spokesman told CN that it monitors the planning process on any proposed tall structures, but that “the onus is very much on the developer to ensure that the structure is sufficiently lit”.

The CAA had expressed concerns over the planned height of the Shard skyscraper due the affect it would have on the flight path to City Airport, leading the developers to reduce the height of the tower.

When asked about the weather conditions in Vauxhall yesterday morning, the spokesman said: “We wouldn’t publish any guidelines on fog. Pilots have discretion to plan their own flights – with the correct instrumentation they can fly through fog.”

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