For three years, HS2 archaeologists have been giving TV documentary makers, Lion TV, exclusive access to archaeological sites being excavated as part of the HS2 project.

Anthropologist and anatomist Professor Alice Roberts and historian Dr Yasmin Khan will present the three-part series, HS2 – The Biggest Dig, airing on BBC Two from next Tuesday, 15 September.

It will explore the discoveries found in Britain’s largest ever archaeological programme.

Within Fusion, there have been a number of exciting discoveries made which will be featured in this new series.

The series will air weekly and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

The full story is available here.

HS2’s first Technical Papers Competition has proved a great success, attracting 120 entries.

Launched last April, the Competition is part of HS2’s Learning Legacy and is intended to capture technical excellence and learning from the HS2 programme.

Each entry was reviewed by a technical panel and the authors of the successful submissions are now working on the full papers for final submission by 3 August. These include Fusion’s Gemma Bailey-Smith, Assistant Sustainability Advisor, who is completing her paper entitled ‘Advancing SMEs Using Innovative Sustainable Plastic-free Methods,’ referencing Fusion’s innovative work using plastic-free tree guards – as pictured above.

Gemma said: “It’s been an exciting process so far. I entered the competition to highlight our team’s great work over the past few years to get these guards implemented on site. Coming from an environmental background into the civils sector, it is really exciting to see these alternative sustainable solutions being used.

“We are also exploring using internal tubes on badger setts that are made of a recycled fibre board. There should be an onsite trial of the new badger setts soon which is really exciting. The competition is a great way to share best practice and highlight the great work which is going on. It is also a brilliant opportunity to be involved in and I would encourage others to get involved.

“I hope the paper reiterates that simple sustainable material swaps can early be implemented on site to benefit not only the environment but small-medium enterprises. Also, I hope it makes people re-think their material uses and question how they can practice sustainability at work and at home. I am grateful for the opportunity to be published as part of the Learning Legacy and would like to thank everyone involved in the tree-guards and badger setts for all they have done and their continued support with the Paper.”

The Learning Legacy is run by HS2’s Chief Engineer & Phase One Engineering Director and is supported by a Technical Review Panel in partnership with professional engineering associations and trade bodies.?

Selected final papers will be published in a hardback book in partnership with the Institute of Civil Engineers, on the Learning Legacy website in November and winners will present their papers at an awards event.

Fourteen students from Coventry, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire schools have spent a week on virtual work experience with Fusion recently

During it, the youngsters – including seven female and the same number from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds – heard from experts and developed a small project in small groups that they presented to Fusion colleagues, their peers and teachers at the end of the week.

The week gave them opportunity understand how the different functions within Fusion fit and work together, supported by sessions with colleagues from various departments including Health and Safety, Planning, Procurement and Engineering.

One unnamed student said: “I learned more about overcoming challenges and that so many of the speakers have also been unsure of their future careers which is reassuring and a confidence boost. I also learned to appreciate the people behind what we take for granted every day, like roads and buildings.

“I really enjoyed the talks that everyone gave and working with my team on the project. It has really helped me become more confident when working and presenting with others, as well as helping broaden the areas of work that I am looking to do in the future.

“Thank you for giving me this extraordinary experience. Although leaning towards aeronautical engineering at the beginning, I found it immensely interesting to gain further insight into varied career routes which I had not considered, and most importantly I have many more interests which have unravelled throughout this placement which I deem to learn more about in the future.”

Members of the schools’ staff also showed their appreciation for the week.

Annalies McIver, Head of Sixth Form, Waddesdon School, said: “I just wanted to say a huge thank you for having (one of our students) on your virtual work experience programme. It is great to hear how she benefited from taking part.

“It looks like they have all been working hard all week and certainly as someone joining at this stage it looks like they’ve gained a number of skills and confidence,” added John Griffin, West Coventry School – Post-16 Learning Manager. “Well done and thanks for offering them such a positive experience during a difficult time in their academic lives. ”

Becky Tranter, our Skills and Employment Manager, commented: “I want to say a big thank you to everyone that took part – from those that led sessions in their area of expertise, to helping with employability skills like mock interviews, and just coming along to watch the presentations at the end of the week.

“It’s been a strange few months with not being able to go into schools, or have the students come to the office, but we’re adapting the way we do things so we can still offer these opportunities and make an impact.”

Stakeholders assured. Locals satisfied. Programme proceeds without delay.

These statements are all outcomes from Fusion’s collaboration with HS2, the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Buckinghamshire Council, which has resulted in a free bus service being provided to enable the works to proceed on the Amersham Vent Shaft road junction.

The bus service was in place in time for last Monday’s closure of a section of Whielden Lane (from Amersham Hospital up to the A404).

Observing social distancing, the new service will run for seven weeks from 7am – 6:30pm,, until the scheduled works completion date on Saturday 4 July, taking passengers from the operational Gore Hill bus stops in the town to the hospital. It will be operated by Carousel Buses, a local company that runs other services in the area. Access for pedestrians and cyclists will also be maintained throughout our works.

The impact of COVID-19-related restrictions on the previous voluntary patient transport service and due to the increased number of visiting outpatients diverted from other hospitals, it was clear there would be additional need for a local bus service.

“The team pulled off a blinder,” remarked Neil Stevenson, C1 Construction Manager. “They got all the necessary approvals and contracts in place in less than a week, providing continuity of access for the community, avoiding impact on them and any delay to our works commencing.”

The construction works includes traffic island modifications, upgrading street signage, introducing new junction traffic lights, vegetation clearance and modifications to the existing cycleway and footpath. The works will provide safety and capacity improvements for motorists, pedestrians and HS2-related traffic during the construction of the vent shaft which will be carried out by Align.

“I am delighted to get this one over the line in a short space of time,” added Richard Calvert, Head of Community Engagement. “There was great potential for community reputational damage for the HS2 programme.

“I would like to thank  everyone involved, including Joel Sykes and Luke Nipen (HS2’s Interface Manager for C1 and Area Central Senior Engagement Manager respectively) for their extensive involvement and effort with the Hospital Trust and the Council.

Glenn Tobin, our Undertakings & Assurances Coordinator, Toney McCunnie Highways Project Manager, Nicholas Considine from the Fusion Consents Team and  Adetayo Adeleye, Junctions Engineer also deserve high levels of praise.

“I must also thank the team at Forkers who adopted a ‘we can do it’ approach from the outset. The Council and bus company also deserve our recognition.

“A significant amount of collaborative effort has been expended to get to this solution. This is the demonstration of neighbourliness in action on the HS2 project.”

“A great team effort added Bob Dobinson, C1 Highways Junctions Lead. “The dedication and efforts of the whole team both HS2, Fusion, the NHS Trust and Buckinghamshire Council working together ensured that we provided pedestrians, hospital staff and the bus travelling public with a reliable and safe means to access Amersham Hospital ”

As Fusion’s works at Doddershall near Quaintain approaches the halfway stage, the organisation is looking back to the initial input from its Community Engagement team, whose work over several months helped calm local concerns..

The Doddershall Grassland Translocation works involves moving approximately 62,000 square metres of soil, to make way for a haul road that will be used by main works contractors. However, with many in the local communities being more familiar with heavy civil engineering works and less aware of the environmentally friendly aspects of HS2, its team’s presence was not met with open arms.

The turning point came following a drop-in session at Doddershall Meadow, organised by Lorraine Kelly, who is now the Community Engagement Manager in C2b & C23 Central, last September at a time of great sensitivity towards vegetation clearance works.

The session enabled Quaintain residents to clearly understand the exact nature of the planned works and was supported by ongoing engagement with the Parish Council, plus liaison with Fusion’s foreman and onsite team. Information was provided as well as assurance that we would address the stated concerns, which included maintaining all footpaths and bridleways for dogwalkers and horse riders, control thistle growth and reinstate turf as close as possible to the verges and hedges. The engagement developed into a series of site tours, led by representatives from subcontractors Ecosulis.

Lorraine, who recently received a message of “thanks for (her) friendly and helpful approach” from a local resident, explained: “We prioritised building good relations, providing consistent updates and sufficient information to maintain a high level of assurance to help pave the way for a lasting relationship, not only with Fusion and our subcontractors, but those in main works that will follow on.

“It was very satisfying to have played a part on this works package.”


Fusion’s ongoing success in closing existing barn owl nests is demonstrating the value of Field Based Planning (FBP) – the software application that it introduced and implemented.

FBP allows the accurate monitoring of activities across Area Central by managing a high volume of complex information from multiple databases within ArcGIS, another Fusion-inspired software platform. This means colleagues and subcontractors no longer have to wait for progress updates but can check in close to real time on FBP. This is of particular importance because over 300 nest site closures are required to be completed throughout Area Central by our AWE1e team as part of an increased scope of work.

Peter Stanbury, Pre-Contract Assistant Project Manager, said: “Without the use of the AWE1a GIS Ecology Database, it would be very hard to communicate to the entire team all updates where ecology mitigation has been completed. The Fusion GIS Database Web Viewer gives updates on the status of the mitigation in a short time period to show (in this case) which nest sites have been closed, so project teams can use the information and progress with their works such as the preparation of ecology permits.

“It must be said, we are the final piece in the jigsaw: the delivery team and a specialist barn owl subcontractor has done the hard work of planning, monitoring, assessing and closing the nest sites.”

Alex Towse, Pre-Contract & Pre-Delivery Lead, commented: “The inception of the Ecology Database in summer 2017 enabled the scoping of the AWE1cdef suite of mitigation packages by processing the huge volume of survey data routewide. This has been pivotal to communicating the scope to the Fusion team and procurement of the supply chain. With the Database integrated into the wider Fusion GIS system & FBP, it is great to see the end product of as-built mitigation data feeding back through to close off the process, and show completed works in real time.”

Eka Asuquo and Chris Pace, Senior Project Engineer and Assistant Project Manager respectively, are leading on this work. Eka added: “It feels good to be part of this team as this package of works is very different from work I’ve done before. It’s also given me a much better understanding of barn owls and how they behave.”

As a protected species, there are strict legal guidelines around mitigation work with barn owls. The birds cannot be moved from roosts they are occupying, and any relocation / erecting of replacement nest boxes needs to be 175 metres away from the boundary of construction work. Another consideration is barn owls’ breeding season, usually between April and September each year, which means their nest sites can be inspected but cannot be closed if they are occupied.

The delivery team’s original scope of 74 nest closures and installation of 25 nest boxes has risen to include approximately 312 closures and 120 nest boxes respectively.

With barn owls being a protected species, their exact location cannot be made public.

An event arranged by Fusion to help youngsters understand how to protect their hearing has been well-received by pupils and school staff.

An ‘Enterprise Day’ was put on at Aylesford School in Warwickshire recently at the request of the UK Hearing Conservation Association (UKCHA), the charity with works to preserve and promote the protection of our nation’s hearing. The day saw nearly two hundred 13-14 year old pupils (that’s Year 9 … or 3rd year seniors for older readers!) taught about sound, hearing, dangerous noise and how to protect against it.

UKHCA Director and Founder Clare Forshaw said: “It was a great day with lots of activities including highlighting the noise levels some children experience on personal music players and phones. We got a great response from them and the teachers and it is a model we feel we can now roll out to other schools.”

Clare, also of Park Health & Safety, provider of Occupational Health services to Fusion, added: “Noise and hearing is not often talked about or acknowledged, so having the opportunity to spend a few hours with these young people and seeing the penny drop when they realise the harm they can be doing and what more they can do to keep their hearing safe was just brilliant and exactly what the UKHCA is about.”

Fusion’s work in Skills, Education and Employment included two recent engagements at Kingsthorpe Grove School in Northampton, and Buckinghamshire’s Winslow School.

Fusion led a ‘Hexbug Challenge’ at Kingsthorpe Grove with Year 3 pupils: explained what engineers do and gave the youngsters opportunities to experience what it is like to take part in engineering work by creating a track for mini vibrating bugs!

Becky Tranter, our SEE Manager, who was joined Apprentice Quality Advisor Daniel Blake (above left) on this effort, said: “This is the first piece of school engagement we have done in the area. Following on from this workshop, we’re now looking at further ecology and archaeology workshops with them.”

Our SEE efforts also saw a quartet of Fusion colleagues spend two days at Winslow School in Buckinghamshire, cleaning its pond and doing general garden maintenance.

Colleagues Pat Howard, Jonathan Stanforth, Sue Hook and Horatiu Blajan were joined by teacher Jo Partridge, plus a number of pupils and their parents.

The school is keen to encourage outdoor learning, and Fusion is enabling this by helping to make the school grounds a safer learning environment, as shown above on the right.

Fusion isn’t done with Winslow School either: This is just a part of a bigger piece of work, which will include more volunteer days and two bird activity days next month.

These activities fall with Fusion’s SEE Strategy, which incorporates school engagement, recruiting apprentices, supporting the National Colleges, creating work experience placements and tackling joblessness.

The “kindness and compassion” of two members of Fusion’s security team has been
acknowledged by senior colleagues at Fusion and HS2.

Mahmoud Khan and Agnieszka Chlewicka quickly intervened after seeing an
elderly man* fall forward on his face in the middle of Harvil Road, near Denham in
the Colne Valley during heavy rainfall recently.

Agnieszka rushed to attend to him, and guided by her first aid training, moved him to
the vehicle she and Mahmoud were in, which Mahmoud moved to the roadside and
used cones and indicators to ensure they were visible to other motorists.

The colleagues changed the pedestrian’s bandages three times to stem his heavy
bleeding while assessing his condition. They waited another hour with him until the
ambulance arrived, and informed the emergency services of his name, date of birth,
relevant personal details and how he sustained the injuries.

The latest indication is that the man, who is now 84 years old, has made a full
recovery from his injuries.

Nina Roberts, Fusion’s Health & Safety Manager, commented: “It is encouraging to
see another demonstration of the priority we place on health, safety and well-being,
also on being a good neighbour, in action.”

“Please give thanks from everyone here to the two security operatives,” said Gillian
Bowman, HS2’s Health and Safety Manager (Phase One). “Their kindness and
compassion has not gone unnoticed.”

Greg Sugden, HS2’s Senior Project Manager (Phase One, Area Central), added:
“What an excellent intervention. Thank you all.”

Mahmoud and Agnieszka were presented with gift vouchers to acknowledge their
intervention by Fusion’s C1 Sector Lead Neil Stevenson.

* The man cannot be named here for confidentiality reasons.