HS2 Ltd, the company building the new railway, is consulting widely with the public, and many local organisations and environmental projects are already benefitting from HS2-funded community projects.
The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 16,000 people working on the project, tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through the supply chain, and hundreds of companies in the Midlands already benefitting.
The joint venture, Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV), is building a 90km section of the railway, from Curzon Street station in Birmingham – via Solihull’s new Interchange station – to Long Itchington in Warwickshire. Meanwhile, Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial, Construction and BAM Nuttall (EKFB) will be responsible for the next 80km, running south from Long Itchington towards the Chilterns Tunnel in Buckinghamshire.
BBV expects to recruit heavily in the area, creating around 7,000 jobs to deliver its section – and 400 of these roles are set to be filled by apprentices and graduates. EKFB is creating 4,000 new jobs as they undertake work across Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, including more than 150 apprentices.
In addition, an estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during the first phase of HS2 and business leaders have urged local companies to get involved in Europe’s largest infrastructure project.
Phil Peak, Business Development Director, Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said: “As a once-in-a-generation project, the HS2 build and its associated works bring a range of opportunities for our local businesses over the next decade.
“HS2 will need more than just tracks and trains though – catering, waste management and security are just some of the services they'll need on sites across the area. I urge anyone interested in getting involved to visit www.finditincw.co.uk to see live opportunities, or contact the Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub for more information.”
HS2 is committed to protecting the environment and minimising its carbon footprint during design, construction and operation, by innovating with new technologies, designing the railway to be energy efficient and taking advantage of new low-carbon materials used during the build.
In Warwickshire, BBV will create a one-mile twin bore tunnel under Long Itchington Wood, ensuring the ancient woodland is preserved above. With a team working around the clock, a 2,000-tonne twin boring machine (TBM) will start to dig under the woodland later this year
Three submissions from Warwickshire residents have been shortlisted for a national vote to name the TBM. These are: Anne – named after Anne Hathaway, suggested by a resident from Nuneaton; Dorothy – for Dorothy Hodgkin, who in 1964 became the first British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, suggested by a student at Warwickshire College Group; and Mary Ann – after Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, suggested by a pupil at North Leamington School. People can vote online at www.hs2.org.uk/tbmvoting
HS2 has already created more than 100 new wildlife habitats between Warwickshire and London, including diverse grassland, ponds and native trees. More than 33 square kilometres of new woodland, wildlife and river habitats will be created alongside the line from the London to the West Midlands, the equivalent of 23 new Hyde Parks lining the spine of the country.
At Finham Brook, near Kenilworth, there are already six new breeding ponds for great crested newts, extensive grassland and new reptile habitats. Among 6,200 new trees are native Warwickshire species – silver birch, hazel, hawthorn, holly – grown in the UK from seeds sourced to be climate resilient.
A ‘training pond’ for otters has been created on land near Stoneleigh Park, so pups can safely learn anti-predator behaviour, and foraging and hunting skills, before they take to the nearby River Avon. Artificial burrows and perches have also been established for kingfishers, while a bat house offers a mix of roosting sites to different species. Ecologists predicted it would be two years before it was occupied, but bats moved in within weeks.
There are also opportunities for community groups with the HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). Projects worth £40 million are being supported by HS2 along the route between the West Midlands and London, with the funds managed by an independent charity, Groundwork UK.
Already, these are producing impressive results in Warwickshire, with 25 projects receiving more than £1.5 million between them. For example, a £75,000 grant is providing key fixtures and fittings for 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts’ new headquarters, replacing their current small, rundown hut. Their new home will mean more young people can get involved and develop key life skills, while other community groups will also be able to meet there.
Almost £150,000 has been awarded to Cubbington Parish Council to improve a number of village facilities, including the upgrade of two play areas in the village, with eco-friendly children’s play equipment.
In addition, Kenilworth Town Council has received a BLEF grant of £74,500 to promote the locality as being ‘open for business’ and to encourage more visitors and investment to the town. Funds will be used on a variety of projects including building digital resilience among businesses, developing communications campaigns and promoting the town’s high street offer.
Stay in touch, stay informed
HS2 realises that its work will impact residents, which is why there are many ways for people to stay informed and have their voices heard. Anyone can receive regular updates about the project – including notifications of upcoming works, how it’s being constructed and what is being done to make it less disruptive – by signing up at www.hs2.org.uk/warwickshire
This is a paid for advertorial on behalf of HS2.