Fusion, via its subcontractors, is generating support for the local communities where works are taking place.

One of the latest examples of this is another act of kindness towards the people of Chipping Warden  – a donation of gravel to a local school by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (BGCL).

BGCL delivered several large bags of gravel to Chipping Warden School for it to use on an area Fusion colleagues had cleared for them.

Carley Richards and Nicky Haigh from Fusion’s Community Engagement Team were involved in making this happen.

Carley said: “It was great to do this, helping the community, which we always seek to do by making a positive contribution to this school, which has shown great appreciation to Fusion and our work. We will endeavour to go back to school in the springtime to assist with further outdoor activities.”

Fusion is building up an admirable list of actions taken to support the local community: on two occasions last year, we re-opened the nearby Welsh Road West in Chipping Warden which meant several thousand people were spared the frustration of moving horseboxes and trailers through narrow local roads to reach The Aston Le Walls Equestrian Centre to take part in popular tournaments.

More recently, Nicky was among a quintet of Fusion colleagues that took part in a volunteer day at the School. The tasks carried out included pressure washing the front of the building and painting its external skirting, clearing the staff car park of moss, seeding an allotment area and painting flower beds, the hall toilet and entrance hall – all while observing COVID-19 restrictions.

Rachel Wood from Fusion’s HERDS (Historical Environment Research Delivery Strategy)Team has given a talk on archaeology to sixth form students at Akeley Wood School in Buckinghamshire in response to an approach made to HS2 by the school’s history teacher.

The teacher was keen to receive more information about the relics found at the St Mary’s Church site in Stoke Mandeville. After the request was passed to Fusion, Rachel did the honours and her talk was gratefully received by the students.

Sarah Jones, Akeley Wood’s Head of History and Politics, said in response: “Thank you so very much for your archaeology talk this morning. We really appreciated it. It was absolutely fascinating to see what’s been found so far but also the incredible dedication and commitment that is going into the archaeological project. All the students loved it – we had extra students come and staff too because of genuine interest. It really has been the highlight of their term! You’ve truly inspired them to keep thinking and questioning historical evidence.”

Becky Tranter, Fusion’s Skills and Employment Manager, added: “It was great to hear Rachel talk not only about the role of archaeologists, but also the work that is going on in an area that is relevant to them.

“We plan on following this us with a careers talk to some of the younger students in the New Year.”

An innovative new design is helping a Fusion subcontractor deliver additional environmental benefits on the HS2 project.

Ecosulis is translocating seven hectares of quality grassland at Doddershall Meadows, in Buckinghamshire (with the AWE2b team). Much of it has been categorised as Grade 1 or 2 – being the most botanically diverse – and so is best able to help target species grow.

Ecosulis began the package of works in November 2018 with a desktop study and a National Vegetation Classification botanical assessment, which allowed it to identify the best areas to move the grassland habitat from and to.

In its search for new, cost-effective ways to achieve better outcomes, in collaboration with Fusion and others in the supply chain, Ecosulis has designed a bespoke bucket which preserves a greater amount of the turf when lifted. When laying it on the receptor site, the technology allows the plant drivers to locate the edges of the already re-installed turf more easily – preventing waste and ensuring a more seamless finish.

Ecosulis Director Simon Butler explained: “Given the volume of grass to be translocated on this project, we really honed in on the making the process of slicing, lifting and laying the turves as efficient as possible, even if to make small gains of a minute or two on each turve, which would result in bigger gains over the entire project.

“We started by modifying our existing mole plough; by removing the landside, the plough only sliced the turf vertically but did not disturb the soil underneath. This enabled us to cut the turf with clean and solid edges, giving us uniform, square turves that were less likely to break upon lifting, and are easier to lay at the receptor site without major gaps. More importantly, the turves were less likely to dry out so the grassland established better and quicker. We also modified flatbed trailers by running a steel beam down the centre line of the trailer to act as a barrier, to prevent the turves already on the trailer being displaced.”

Paul Grainger, Fusion’s Lead Supervisor in Sector C2b Calvert, commented: “Being able to support Ecosulis’ innovations has helped to improve grasslands translocation efficiency. This shows what the project can achieve with an integrated team, common goals and targets, and a shared vision of success.”

Ecosulis’ work is to continue in this package post-translocation: it has also been commissioned to undertake the initial maintenance onsite: providing ongoing management of the receptor sites and surrounding low-grade grassland, maintaining soil moisture this summer, undertaking targeted seed collection and planting, also improving target grassland communities.

PIC CAPTIONS: Clockwise from the top left: Modified bucket at donor sites one and two; the bucket at the receptor site and the adapted trailer

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.