Construction complaints lodged by members of the public against HS2 Ltd and its contractors reached a record high during the first quarter of the year.
A total of 501 complaints were received between January and March this year, according to figures released by HS2’s independent construction commissioner Sir Mark Worthington.
That is more than a third of the total number received during 2020 (1,470).
More than half of all the complaints (262) received during the quarter relate to construction of HS2’s Phase One Area South, which runs from London to West Ruislip. CS JV (Costain and Skanska) is the main works contractor on the Area South job.
The overall rise in complaints is in keeping with the steady increase in complaints seen over the past two years as enabling work and now main work ramps up.
Worthington’s report concludes: “The number of complaints registered by HS2 Ltd rose again over the quarter as the project moves more fully into its main works programme. January was relatively quiet reflecting the low level of activity over the Christmas and New Year periods.
“There was a strong rise in complaints in Area South in February but in Areas Central and North complaints stabilised and fell in comparison to previous figures. Again Phase 2a remains relatively quiet.
“The key issues revolved around traffic and road related matters, woodland, vegetation and wildlife issues and noise disturbance.”
Worthington’s report adds that disturbance as a result of high-profile protests is partially to blame for the rise in complaints. He name checks protests at the Jones Hill Wood site as well as the protest tunnels dug beneath the Euston site as causes of concern.
His report adds: “The arrival of outside environmental activists in any area can be of great concern to local residents.
“It is important that HS2 Ltd and the contractors continue to keep the local communities as widely informed as practicable as to their plans and the underlying reasoning behind them.
“However, I also recognise that the protest groups make such plans information-sensitive.”
The pledge came following a Commons transport select committee meeting which heard that HS2 contractors were not working to environmental best practice, breaking promises made during the consultation process and causing “complete chaos” for local communities.
In particular, HS2 contractors working on the first phase of the line were accused of “demolishing first, then designing later […] failing to stick to approved HGV routes […] introducing last minute traffic diversions […] damaging local roads and properties […] and using temporary land take for longer than originally set out”.
To combat this, Calvert Green Parish Council chairman Phil Gaskin called for “independent sheriffs” to be put in place to ensure HS2 contractors do not breach assurances made by HS2 Ltd in relation to construction of the line.
Department of Civil EngineeringDepartment of Civil Engineering – International Burch University (ibu.edu.ba)