On reading the daily legal update I receive each morning, the cases reported today reminded me of the wide-ranging regulatory risks facing those involved in the development, maintenance and repair of housing.
In the first case, Bellway Homes was ordered to pay a fine of £600,000, costs of over £30,000 and agreed to make a voluntary donation of £20,000 to the Bat Conservation Trust. Bellway Homes carried out demolition work where the presence of Soprano Pipistrelle bats had been documented and failed to put in place appropriate mitigation and obtain a Natural England European Protected Species licence.
Bellway Homes pleaded guilty to the offence of damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place of a European protected species.
In the second case, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a housing association had failed to prevent or reduce exposure of employees carrying out ground maintenance and general construction work to intensive and protracted vibration. Employees were not provided with information and training in relation to the risks of exposure to vibration, and were unaware they were at risk, or of the need for health surveillance and ways to minimise exposure using controls.
The housing association pleaded guilty to breaches of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,293.10.
In the third case, a housing maintenance company was prosecuted and fined for a breach of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 when an employee slipped on ice whilst carrying out works on a roof.
While the forthcoming legislation in the Building Safety and Fire Safety Bills, along with the proposals in the social housing white paper, focus attention on resident safety, these cases demonstrate that housing associations involved in the development, repair and maintenance of housing must take a wide-ranging and comprehensive approach to ensure compliance with all of their regulatory obligations
A building company has been ordered to pay the largest fine ever issued by a court in relation to a wildlife crime following a complex investigation by officers from the South East Command Unit. On Tuesday, 8 December Bellway Homes admitted damaging or destroying a breeding site or resting place for bats at a construction site in Greenwich.