Impacts of construction traffic

High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 8th March 2016.

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During construction of Phase One of High Speed 2, the Nominated Undertaker must ensure that the impacts from construction traffic on local communities (including all local residents and businesses and their customers, visitors to the area, and users of the surrounding transport network) are mitigated by its contractors where reasonably practicable.—

The Nominated Undertaker and its contractors must take all reasonable and practical steps to mitigate the impacts of construction traffic on local communities.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am not convinced that this can be dealt with by way of the assurances about which we have heard so much thus far. The new clause deals with the impact of construction traffic. The underlying rationale is for the nominated undertaker and its contractors to take all reasonable and practical steps to mitigate the impact of construction traffic on local communities. To some extent, new clause 36 touches upon some of the ground that we covered in our debate on new clause 26, where we discussed maximising the use of rail to bring and remove excavation and construction material. The new clause places an obligation on the nominated undertaker to ensure that the impacts of construction traffic on local communities are mitigated, again, as per our earlier discussion, with the caveat of that being reasonably practicable. Again, this is an acknowledgment that the provision will not in any way adversely affect the necessary works.

What we are not referring to is the excavation of spoil by tunnelling. The Minister is right that all of that will be removed by rail, and will not result in any extra lorries on the road at Euston. Rather, we are concerned about the excavation, demolition and construction materials needed to build the HS2 station at Euston. Even with the Minister’s clarification, it is planned that much of the material will be moved by road and not rail at Euston.

HS2’s own figures—contained in additional provision 3, community forum area 1 report for Euston, table 7 —estimate that more than 3 million tonnes of material will be created at Euston. That includes 2,474,296 tonnes—the figures are very precise—to be generated by excavation, while 328,135 tonnes will be generated by demolition and 642,498 tonnes by the construction process. That amount will have a huge impact on the roads, however it is removed. The same document containing HS2’s own figures sets out that that equates to

“peak lorry movements of 800 combined two-way vehicle movements per day”,

which is 1,600 lorry movements per day in the busiest month, which is understood to be in 2023. The majority—90%—of those lorries will be HGVs. Camden residents are concerned about the impacts on air quality, the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, habitability and traffic congestion that the lorries may cause and, indeed, are likely to cause.

HS2 Ltd has given assurances to Camden Council that it will engage actively with the council, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to develop a plan for the bringing in and removal of such excavated materials and construction materials to and from Euston by rail. The plan should be submitted to the Euston integrated programme board and the Euston station strategic redevelopment board for comment by no later than May 2016.

With the new clause, we are seeking to secure an additional commitment which goes further than just producing a plan, and actually puts in place the mechanisms to achieve the removal and delivery of the maximum proportion of excavated and construction materials by rail. I trust that the Minister can accept the rationale of the clause, as we are dealing with an area that the Select Committee has made clear is worthy of special attention. The new clause would make it abundantly clear to the people of Camden that their concerns have been rightly acknowledged and will be addressed, as embedded in the Bill, rather than awaiting developments in the months ahead.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The construction of HS2 will inevitably require the use of construction lorries on the public highway. As we discussed previously, a big proportion of the excavated material in the urban area at the London end of the line will be transported either by rail or along the line of route. The opportunity to procure the corridor for the railway will enable the movement of excavated material along line of route, not just for disposal but for possible use elsewhere along the line to build up ground.

We are aware that that is a concern for communities near the works and we take that very seriously. HS2 Ltd has therefore put in place a range of controls in the Bill and in commitments that address the issue raised in the new clause. First, under schedule 17 to the Bill, lorry routes to and from all work sites with more than 12 two- way lorry movements will require the approval of the relevant planning authority. Through that process, the nominated undertaker will consider the best routes to use taking account of the effects on local amenity. While determining such applications, the planning authority will be able to consult local communities.

In addition, commitments have been made with regard to traffic management in the code of construction practice and the route-wide traffic management plan. The requirements in those documents are made binding through commitments to Parliament. The nominated undertaker will have regular liaison with bodies interested in highways safety, such as vehicle operators, the Health and Safety Executive, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the emergency services.

The nominated undertaker will be required to ensure driver training with regard to vulnerable road users and vehicles’ safety equipment. Contractors will also be required to sign up to fleet management standards, such as the fleet operator recognition scheme, which was developed by Transport for London.

In addition to those measures, which will be applied at a route-wide level, there will also be local traffic management plans, which will be prepared in consultation with the local highway authority. That will cover a range of issues relating to traffic management matters, lorry movements and highway work. There will also be continuing engagement throughout the duration of the HS2 works through traffic liaison groups that will be set up along the route.

Membership of those will include highway authorities, public transport operators and the emergency services. That is just a summary of the wide range of controls that will be put in place to manage the impacts of construction traffic on communities. I hope that the binding controls I have described have demonstrated that the matters that the proposed new clause aims to address are already more than adequately controlled in the Bill and allied commitments. I hope that that clarification reassures the hon. Gentleman and that he will not press his new clause.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am grateful to the Minister for his attention to detail. He clearly shares our concerns but I am disappointed that he has not recognised how the issue is perceived in the community. This is such an important matter to the Camden community. It is essential that it is loud and clear in the fabric of the Bill, so there can be no doubt or degree of interpretation in the months and years ahead. For that reason, I want to press the new clause to the vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 5, Noes 9.

Division number 10 Christmas Tree Industry — Impacts of construction traffic

Aye: 5 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

New Clause 37