Independent HS2 construction commissioner appointed

An independent commissioner has been appointed to help look into issues arising from the construction of HS2, which is due to get underway next year.

Gareth Epps, who previously held a senior community relations role at Crossrail, will investigate any matters that have not reached a satisfactory conclusion through HS2 Ltd’s complaints process.

Having spent nine years at Crossrail developing and implementing community processes and with ten years’ experience as a local authority councillor, Epps has extensive experience dealing with public interest issues relating to large infrastructure projects. Commenting on his appointment, Epps said, “Urban and rural communities will see construction and while HS2 Ltd and its contractors will take steps to minimise disruption, it is important that residents and businesses along the route know they can seek fair and independent resolution of complaints if necessary.”

Epps's main functions will include ensuring that people affected by HS2 know who the construction commissioner is and what they do, mediating in unresolved disputes between HS2 Ltd and individuals or bodies, including claims under the Small Claims Scheme and monitoring complaints and providing reports, marking trends and providing advice on how to reduce the instance of complaints where possible.

Simon Kirby, HS2 Ltd chief executive, said: “Improving our approach to affected communities is at the very top of our priority list. We are continuously striving to refine our complaints handling and improve community engagement. The appointment of a Construction Commissioner is a key part of that process.”

The independent construction commissioner for HS2 will be concerned with the construction, not the operation of HS2 and as such the role will terminate after construction of the scheme. HS2 is proposed to go forward in two phases - the first will connect London, Birmingham, and the west Midlands, while the second phase will continue the north-south line to connect to Manchester and Leeds. 

Click here to find out more about the role of the independent construction commissioner at HS2.