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Orders of the Day — Land Compensation Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th November 1972.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham 12:00 am, 27th November 1972

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have to try to achieve a balance between the need for roads and the need to protect the environment. I will say something later about balancing the provisions for compensation with considerations of better planning. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no question of this Bill doubling the cost of the roads. As will be seen from the Explanatory Memorandum, the total annual cost is expected to be about £65 million. We must get that in proper perspective. We have also to accept that this is a conflict by no means confined to the towns, although as our population has grown it has become steadily more urbanised. Only 150 years ago, 20 per cent. of the community lived in urban areas; now the figure is 80 per cent. It is in the urban areas that the conflict is most keenly felt through slum clearance, comprehensive redevelopment and new urban motorways.

The report of the Urban Motorways Committee set out a new and I believe more sympathetic philosophy for the planning and carrying out of major road projects. This is an aspect of the matter which is to some extent the point raised by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun). It calls for more pains to be taken to fit these roads more intelligently and carefully into the environment, to have regard to social costs as well as direct economic benefits which might be derived. This philosophy also calls for regard to be paid to the need to minimise the effects of traffic noise by mounds and other kinds of barriers, to minimise as much as possible the disruptive effect that these projects can have by separating people from their friends, shops and places of amusement.

This new outlook must involve better statutory powers, that is powers enabling a highway authority to buy land, not just for the highway itself but for the remedial works which will make it more acceptable in its environment. The Committee also recommend that highway authorities should be responsible for providing sound insulation in houses affected by noise from a new urban road.