Construction Commissioner
responds to a Complaint

Chesham Society Complaint -

The society complained to our Local Engagement Manager, Luke Nipen, as follows -

HS2 Construction and Harvil Road

Dear Luke,
We are writing in response to the events at Harvil Road on 2nd October, which are presumably of some concern to your organisation. There are several aspects of site management which we believe should be improved, to minimise the risks of direct action by local communities -

  1. HS2 construction sites should be clearly identified as such. No such identification was evident at Harvil Road, or the larger compound on the south side of the Chiltern line bridge. If your works are being managed in accord with best practice, then you will surely wish to obtain credit for this ?
  2. There were no notices in the immediate vicinity describing the proposed works, and the ‘dedicated HS2 website that provides route-wide and local information’ was not discoverable by Google Search. This suggests that the commitment to Informing Local Communities and other stakeholders was missed, on this occasion.
    We suggest that this website should provide a list of active construction sites, and copies of all letters sent to residents, for the benefit of those who may not have received these communications directly.
  3. In the absence of any available documentation it is unclear what ecological investigations had been carried out between the 2013/14 environmental statement and the commencement of work on this site. We suggest that a reliance on the 2013 studies places the contractor at risk of contravening the legal protections extended to many species – possibly bats in this instance.
  4. It is also unclear what “procedures (would) be adopted in the event of unanticipated discovery or disturbance of protected species or important habitats” on this site, and by whom, or if any operative present was in possession of a bat handling license.

Consequently, the protestors may have had reasonable grounds for suspecting that the contractors in this instance were not paying due regard to the laws protecting bats.
We hope that the above suggestions may prove useful to you, and welcome a continuing dialog on these topics.

In the absence of any reply, we contacted the Construction Commissioner, and received this -

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I have asked HS2 Ltd to update me on what has taken place here.  If you are happy for me to do so, I will also approach the London Borough of Hillingdon in whose area the works take place.

I will comment further once I have heard back from them.  

You have also, entirely fairly, mentioned information provision on websites.  I have been concerned for some time (and have written in my reports) that the current HS2 website on the .gov.uk site is not really suitable for the needs of a major construction project.  I am pleased that HS2 Ltd has now got Government approval to set up a bespoke website which will among other things provide information in real time about construction.  It is no small undertaking to set up a website for a project of the scale of HS2, and I anticipate this will not be ready until the New Year.  Your comments serve as a timely reminder of the urgency of creating such a site, and the reasons for doing so.  It is unfortunate that this could not have been implemented sooner, and I will relay your observations to those responsible for this.

It hasn't saved any trees (sorry), but they know we are watching.