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London Assembly calls for urgent investigation into Earls Court demolition

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London Assembly members have called for an urgent investigation into the demolition of the Earls Court exhibition centres amid fears over asbestos at the west London site

AJ sister-title Construction News reported that Labour’s Nicky Gavron, Liberal Democrat Stephen Knight and Green Party assembly member Darren Johnson have written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), raising concerns about the removal of asbestos from Earls Court One and Two in Kensington & Chelsea.

In the letter, the members claim that developer Capital & Counties, Kensington & Chelsea council and the HSE failed to publish or give local residents access to an asbestos survey and risk register.

They added: ‘Residents require transparency in order to give them confidence that hazardous substances, such as asbestos in Earls Court One, are being dealt with safely.’

Keltbray managing director Paul Deacy said all works carried out were to high Health and Safety and Environmental standards.

He said: ‘Keltbray strongly refutes any suggestion that the deconstruction of the‎ Earls Court Exhibition Centre poses a health risk to the public.

‘All our works are carried out to high Health and Safety and Environmental standards, and in accordance with current legislation.

‘Our demolition methodology remains as originally envisaged [and we will] continue to keep all residents informed of our progress through regular resident meetings and newsletters to neighbours.

‘We also have a dedicated helpline people can call if they have concerns.’

The members also raised concerns about the air quality, noise and vibration near the project.   

‘The law limits the number of ‘spikes’ in nitrogen dioxide to a maximum of 18 events per year, but in Earl’s Court this limit was exceeded 54 times, three times as many as permitted,’ read the letter.

The members said this raised issues of ‘serious public health concern’ and have urged the HSE to investigate further.

Kensington & Chelsea was declared an Air Quality Management Area in 2000, meaning the borough has to put together a plan to improve its air quality.

Capco’s redevelopment will add thousands of new luxury homes to the area but the developer has met significant local opposition over the amount of social and affordable properties that will be on offer to residents.

In March, campaign group West Ken & Gibbs Green Community Homes voted 100 to one in favour of serving a Right to Transfer notice to Hammersmith & Fulham Borough Council, which includes part of the development within its boundaries. The move would see ownership of the estates transfer to a new landlord.

Keltbray began demolition work on both Earls Court exhibition centres at the end of last year.

A spokeswoman for Capco said: “’he Earls Court site is being managed by our demolition contractor, Keltbray, in accordance with the highest safety standards and in line with the plans agreed by all the relevant public authorities.

‘Capco and Earls Court Partnership Limited take health and safety matters extremely seriously.’

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