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Shovels now set to hit the ground as HS2 gets full go-ahead

THE Government’s high speed line developer HS2 Ltd has been given permission by the Department for Transport to start the detailed design and construction of Phase 1 of the new railway between London and Birmingham.

A Notice to Proceed has been issued to the four contractors. They are SCS Railways, Align JV, EKFB JV, and BBV JV, who are jointly known as the ‘Main Works Civils Contractors’.

The move is also said to be creating 400,000 ’supply chain opportunities’ for third-party firms.

Some work had already started at sites in the West Midlands, including both the stations in Birmingham, and at London Euston. Progress has been slowed recently by the coronavirus emergency, but workers had already been set to return to these sites at the start of next week.

Apart from this, the contractors have been preparing scheme designs and drawing up detailed costings for the main construction phase.

The issuing of the Notice to Proceed essentially marks the transition from getting ready to starting work in earnest.

HS2 chief executive Mark Thurston said: ‘In these difficult times, today’s announcement represents both an immediate boost to the construction industry – and the many millions of UK jobs that the industry supports – and an important investment in Britain’s future: levelling up the country, improving our transport network and changing the way we travel to help bring down carbon emissions and improve air quality for the next generation.

‘HS2 has been over ten years in development and design. While the country’s focus is rightly on defeating COVID-19, the issuing of Notice to Proceed ensures that our contractors and their supply chains have the confidence that they can commit to building HS2, generating thousands of skilled jobs across the country as we recover from the pandemic.’

HS2 said the safety of all those involved was under continuous review, and that contractors would be following Public Health England guidelines to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers and of the communities affected.

Opposition to the scheme is continuing. A bid by the broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham to have the scheme reassessed on environmental grounds has been thrown out by the High Court, but Mr Packham has said he would be appealing against the decision not to allow a judicial review.

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