Zoom into Soil: HS2

5 December 2022

The British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) will hold the next webinar in the lunchtime series of Zoom into Soil. Zoom into Soil:HS2 will take place on Monday 5 December from 12.00 to 1.00pm and is free of charge for all delegates.

The first speaker will be Chris Cantle, the Land Quality Principal at Jacobs, who will present 'Colne Valley Western Slopes: Maximising habitat creation within a large infrastructure project'. The Colne Valley Western Slopes (CVWS) is one of the largest and most significant environmental projects on the HS2 Phase 1 route. The design solution will deliver a dynamic landscape of tree-lined ridges, wood pasture and wetland set within extensive areas of species-rich calcareous grassland, with the 140ha site accessible from over 4 km of new recreational routes. Chris will discuss how soil science has been central to optimising the design and sustainable materials reuse, including a series of innovative laboratory and field trials.

The second speaker will be Chris McCloskey, a Research Fellow at Cranfield University, who will present 'Optimising soil profiles to support calcareous grassland habitat creation'. Calcareous grasslands are highly biodiverse and among Europe’s most floristically-rich habitats. These habitats are, however, threatened, and many of the UK’s calcareous grasslands were lost to changing land use during the 20th century. As part of the HS2 environmental works to ensure no net biodiversity loss along the route, 90 hectares of calcareous grassland will be created in the Colne Valley. Challenges to achieving high quality calcareous grassland were identified prior to construction, including variable soil calcium carbonate levels, elevated phosphate levels and the slow permeability of the chalk tunnel arisings which will underlie around half of the site. We are therefore undertaking a series of glasshouse and field trials to explore how we can optimise the use of site-won soils and the reuse of HS2 construction by-products (limestone and concrete) for creating soil profiles which can provide the specialised soil chemical, physical and biological properties needed to support the diverse plant assemblages which make up calcareous grassland ecosystems. Chris will discuss the findings from initial soil profile trials at Cranfield and their implications for calcareous grassland habitat creation.

The webinar will be followed by a Society Extraordinary General Meeting from 1:00 – 1:15pm. Delegates are welcome to stay on for the EGM, or to join the meeting at 1:00pm without attending the full Zoom into Soil webinar.

The webinar includes one hour BASIS and NRoSO CPD points.


To the event