As part of a green drive within the delivery of HS2, the company behind the UK’s new high-speed line, HS2 Ltd, has stepped in to back a new construction-focused Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) accreditation pilot for the UK and Ireland.
ECoWs perform a critical role within construction projects, ensuring contractors and clients comply with environmental legislation and planning conditions for the protection of biodiversity on work sites.
There has been growing demand in the industry for an ECoW accreditation within the construction sector, with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) launching a new training pilot in 2019 in response.
The first phase of the pilot was sponsored at the time by HS2 and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), but reduced income linked the pandemic caused CIEEM to face a shortfall and temporarily halt plans.
Now, recognising that HS2 is likely to have the single largest requirement for ECoWs across the industry in the next decade and beyond, HS2 Ltd and its partners Balfour Beatty and Atkins have agreed to meet a substantial proportion of the shortfall.
As a result, 50 candidates – including ecologists working on HS2 – will complete the first ECoW pilot in the coming months, with registrations for the full scheme due to commence in early 2022.
Furthering its commitment to the scheme, HS2 Ltd’s lead ecologist is an active member of the steering panel for the pilot scheme, while a number of other ecologists working on the major UK infrastructure project have also help support the pilot assessment process.
Sally Hayns, CEO at the CIEEM said: “Developing this new accreditation scheme is vital to improve the profile of the Ecological Clerk of Works role and ensure the quality of the ecological advice and supervision provided on construction sites.
“We welcome HS2 Ltd’s commitment to ensuring the ECoW role is delivered to a high standard and the financial support provided to enable us to complete the pilot scheme.”
As part of the lifecycle of the HS2, recognising the size of the environmental programme involved with the construction of the high-speed railway line, employment and training is being provided to thousands of ecologists.
It was therefore recognised the significance of investing in a vital training programme which will ensure the UK and Ireland have access to a domestic pipeline of skilled workers, necessary to deliver HS2 and other major infrastructure projects in the future sustainably and effectively.
In Phase 1 alone, between London and the West Midlands, HS2 will see up to seven million trees and shrubs planted, creating more than 33sq km of new woodland, wildlife, and river habitats.
It will leave behind 30% more wildlife habitats than exist currently and form part of the HS2 Green Corridor, a significant environmental improvement for people, places and nature along the HS2 route.
ECoWs will be vital to ensuring that tailored ecology plans are delivered effectively to provide better habitats for local wildlife and protected species and ensure HS2 has a positive impact on the UK environment, rather than a detrimental one.
Peter Miller, Environment Director at HS2 Ltd added: “We take the environmental cost of construction very seriously, as our investment in this nationally-recognised ecological accreditation shows.
“Ecological Clerk of Works are vital to safeguarding wildlife and protected species and we value the expertise they bring in helping us to deliver Britain’s new railway.”
RTM is hosting a virtual event on October 21, 2021 exploring the UK rail industry’s burgeoning green credentials. Register your interest here.