Construction work on the first phase of the rail link is set to begin in 2017 and work is expected to be completed in 2033. Growers say HS2 requires more than one million native trees and shrubs for phase one in 2017. Among the one million plants there are only 340 trees taller than the required 3m but 80,000 plants higher than 1m.
Mostly required are two-year-old transplants from varying provenance seed regions including northern France to try and encourage climate change proofing.
Johnsons of Whixley director Andrew Richardson helped supply plants for the HS1 line connecting London to the Channel Tunnel, working with Kent-based Oakover Nurseries to pull stock together. He said collaboration with Oakover is likely again and they both know contractor Arup as well after HS1. Latest demands from HS2 are for pre-qualification quality, environmental and other back-office system reports, added Richardson. Plants are not yet in the ground but there is time to grow them, he said.
An HS2 representative said the process started with young trees planted at the start of building so they would grow and provide screening as HS2 develops. "We're doing this differently to other major projects where you would expect subcontractors to do the purchasing and planting.
They added: "On most projects they would not need as large a quantity so they could buy them off the shelf, but because we're looking at up to seven million plants over the whole project we need to start work with growers much earlier so we are buying direct and they will have contracts with HS2."
A dozen large contractors will subcontract all other work apart from plant material, he added. Plants will offset lost woodland and provide screening for communities close to the track. There will be three phases and all will include mixed native species.