HS2 supports new ECoW accreditation pilot project
HS2 Ltd is taking action to ensure that a new construction-focused Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) accreditation pilot for both the UK and Ireland can move forward as planned.
Credit: HS2 Ltd
In response to the growing demand for an ECoW accreditation within the construction sector, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) launched the new training pilot in 2019. HS2 and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) sponsored the initial phase of the pilot, however due to reduced income, linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sponsors left CIEEM with a shortfall therefore, project plans had to be paused.
HS2 Ltd and its partners Balfour Beatty and Atkins, recognised that the UK will have the single largest requirement for ECoW across the industry, reaching into the next decade and beyond therefore, both Balfour Beatty and Atkins agreed to meet a substantial proportion of the shortfall. As a result, 50 candidates, including ecologists working on HS2, will now complete the first ECoW pilot in the coming months of 2021, with registrations for the full scheme to commence in early 2022. As a further sign of its commitment, ecologists working on HS2 are also supporting the pilot assessment process, as HS2 Ltd’s lead ecologist is an active member of the steering panel for the pilot scheme.
Sally Hayns, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management said: “Developing this new accreditation scheme is vital to improve the profile of the ECoW’s role and to 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.”
ECoW ensures contractors and clients comply with environmental legislations and planning conditions for the protection of biodiversity on work sites, an essential role during construction projects.
Tasked with delivering Britain’s largest environmental programme, HS2 is providing employment and training to thousands of ecologists across its delivery lifecycle. HS2 acknowledges the importance of investing in this vital training programme to ensure that the UK and Ireland have the pipeline of skilled workers they need to deliver HS2, as well as other major infrastructure projects in the future.
Phase One of the HS2, which will occur between the West Midlands and London, plans to plant up to seven million trees and shrubs and will create more than 33km2 of new woodland, wildlife and river habitats. Furthermore, Phase One will leave behind 30 per cent more wildlife habitats than what exists currently and it will form part of the unprecedented HS2 Green Corridor that aims to bring improvements for people, places and nature along the route. ECoW will have a crucial role to play in ensuring that tailored ecology plans are delivered effectively, in order to provide improved habitats for local wildlife and protected species.
“We take the environmental cost of construction very seriously, as our investment in this nationally-recognised ecological accreditation shows,” commented Peter Miller, Environment Director at HS2 Ltd. “ECoW are vital to safeguarding wildlife and protected species and we value the expertise they bring in helping us to deliver Britain’s new railway.”
By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help reduce the number of cars and lorries on our roads, as well as decrease the demand for domestic flights and it will help the country propel to reduce carbon emissions. Furthermore, HS2 is already playing an integral role in the government’s biodiversity net-zero ambition, and this investment is an additional sign of the company’s commitment to ensuring that its ecology works thoroughly support that goal.