Work on all dams has to be supervised by a Government approved Supervising Panel Engineer. A. K.Hughes was appointed to this post in March 2010. A. K. Hughes is Director of Dams and Water Resources at Atkins plc, a large multinational engineering, consultancy and construction company. A. K. Hughes has said that he has the final say on what needs to be done although that is not strictly the case.

The City of London has had surveys and reports carried out by a number of  consultants which were brought together into a 500 page report compiled by Haycock Associates which had gathered data and made a number of recommendations. These original ideas have been strongly criticised from all sides and A. K Hughes is in charge of presenting new designs which it was hoped would be a significant improvement on the original proposals.
After nearly two years of discussions, these hopes have been dashed as it has emerged that the final revised plans which are now (February 2014) being put before the public are in some respects more intrusive and extensive than the original ones.

A. K Hughes has also been appointed Construction Panel Engineer for the project as well as being in charge of the team creating the revised designs. There has not been a competitive tendering process for the first part of this consultancy contract. A. K. Hughes will therefore have to supervise and approve a design which his own subordinates, and indeed himself, are currently in the process of designing.

A. K. Hughes (and or Atkins) is also a consultant to the Government and is involved in drafting new scondary legislation regarding dams which are pertinent to his recommendations regarding the Hampstead Heath ponds. This could be considered a separate conflict of interest.

The 'Protect Our Ponds' campaign  says that this is wrong. We think that A. K. Hughes (and Atkins) should only have one role. The simplest solution would be for A. K. Hughes to resign from all statutory posts and concern himself only with the design for which his employers Atkins hold a contract. Both the Supervising Engineer and Construction Engineer should be independent of Atkins.

Mike Freer MP has forwarded a letter of complaint to the Secretary of State for the Environment from the Protect Our Ponds Campaign on the issue of conflict of interest.  A letter has also been sent to the City of London. A conflict of interest  in the UK is not against the law although it can be against the rules of a professional body. The Minister says this is a matter for the Institute of Civil Engineers, the professional body for dam engineers. For an explanation of what a conflict of interest is, see Wikipedia

There is also the troubling involvment of A K Hughes and Atkins with the Welsh reservoir at Llanishen
A K Hughes has recently denied he is in a position of conflict of interest.

This page was updated on 6 February 2014.