High Speed 2 – better known as HS2 – has set ambitious targets to deliver the most sustainable high-speed railway in the world. But this comes with considerable risks to ecology and landscape that require novel and cutting-edge mitigation measures.
HS2 will provide a state-of-the-art high-speed rail line that is crucial to achieve the UK’s targets for a low-carbon future. It will link up London, the Midlands, the North of England and Scotland, connecting approximately 30 million people and serving 8 of the UK’s top 10 major cities.
These ambitious targets create issues for the natural environment including grasslands, forests and protected areas through which the line will pass.
Ramboll (operating as DJV with WSP) worked with HS2’s enabling works contractor LM, at the forefront of providing novel solutions to ensure that the project is truly sustainable and benefits both society and the natural environment.
Climate due diligence
HS2 is a key project working towards the UK’s need to tackle climate change, improve air quality and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Through its creation, a low-carbon option for travelling across the UK will become available that will emit 17 times less carbon than the equivalent domestic flight and 7 times less carbon than the equivalent car journey.
To achieve true gains for climate action, a holistic approach that protects biodiversity and ensures climate resilience is required.
Ramboll is part of the response to this key issue, providing expertise on biodiversity to ensure that the project leaves the environment in a better state than it was before.
Protecting the natural environment
HS2 continues to undertake one of the largest ecological surveys in the UK and is making use of pioneering technologies and advanced survey techniques.
Some of the UK’s leading consultants have been involved in preparing the European Protected Species (EPS) licence applications for HS2 Phase One.
Ramboll formed part of a team that worked to deliver more than 100 consents for Phase One Area North. This involved analysis of thousands of ecological survey results spanning 80km.
We undertook analyses for bats, amphibians, badgers, otters and other protected species to identify the status of the populations and provide appropriate mitigation, compensation and enhancements.
The team specified the creation of over 700 bat roosting features. Tree planting was designed-in to the scheme to provide high-quality, long-term roosting resources that will be maintained to promote the formation of veteran tree features for roosting bats.
Ramboll has worked with leading experts on the delivery of 98 ecological mitigation sites across HS2 Phase One Area North.
Operating as DJV with WSP, the Ramboll team has worked with HS2’s enabling works contractor LM, to design swathes of new tree planting, pond creation, species translocation and habitats enhancements.
These sites contribute to the seven million trees that will eventually be planted as part of phase one, with many new grasslands, meadows, orchards and recreational areas for local communities.
Sites were designed to reflect the character of the local area whilst delivering ecological function. They will help form one of the nation’s most significant green corridors and, with input from local councils, will link up blue habitats and provide a valuable steppingstones for amphibian species, and provide safeguarded havens to support the future expansion of protected mammals.
Ramboll provides expert advice on the management of biodiverse habitats, and prepared management plans for high-value and complex habitats, including plans allowing for up to 50 years of monitoring and maintenance.
Ramboll helped the client balance the many interacting functions and stakeholder requirements of this complex scheme.
Skills employment and education strategy
Ramboll helped HS2 deliver their ambitious skills, employment and education strategy by donating corporate social responsibility days. Technical specialists have a provided time and resources to help educate and inform children, young people and their families about the HS2 programme and the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) behind it.
From what plants and animals need to live and grow, to large scale ecological mitigation design, Ramboll is pleased to help inspire interest in the natural world and promote talent in the infrastructure sector.
Ramboll is committed to taking a leading role in delivering solutions that are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
We are playing a key role in building the most sustainable high-speed railway of its kind in the world in line with our own sustainability principles.
This project will reinvigorate the rail network, support the economy, create jobs, reduce carbon emissions and provide reliable travel in a changing climate throughout the 21st century and beyond.