“allows the Secretary of State to switch off the deemed planning permission granted by the Bill in respect of future Crossrail works, should he decide to do so”.
The preceding clauses have given the Government the power to obtain deemed planning permission to build the network, presumably to facilitate and speed up the construction process. However, under clause 13, we see that they do not want that power and are saying that the process can go down the normal planning permission road.
Why does the Secretary of State want special powers in relation to the deemed planning permission process at one stage and, in respect of clause 13, under what circumstances is that not necessary? I find the clause slightly confusing in that regard and I look forward to the Minister elucidating.
The clause allows the Secretary of State, by means of an order, to disapply the deemed planning permission granted by clause 10(1) in respect of maintaining or altering any Crossrail work from the date specified in the order. That is most likely to be used in the case of the electrification and signalling work done on sections of the existing railway network. It will ensure that a single planning regime covers works in relation to existing track after the Crossrail construction phase has been completed. In the event of a disapplication, any such development would be subject to the normal provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 applying to development authorised by a local Act.
I am interested that the Minister has chosen to mention electricity. When we touched on that point this morning, he said that he required special powers to deal with electricity, yet now, when discussing other provisions relating to it, he says that he can use normal powers.
This morning we looked at the Electricity Act 1989 and the normal consent regime that applied. I was told that that regime clearly was not appropriate and that a special consent regime needed to apply. I cannot understand why a special consent regime is needed to deal with the building and moving of electricity infrastructure, but not a special planning regime.
Yes, inspiration has arrived from on high. The clause is about works to maintain or alter the existing infrastructure. It is not about creating new infrastructure, which is why there is a different planning regime. I hope that that makes sense to the hon. Gentleman. The clause allows the planning regime to change and then to revert back to normal—as it was before the construction took place.
I was hoping that the answer would make sense to me. The Minister says that the clause relates to the alteration of existing infrastructure rather than to new infrastructure, but we are taking deemed planning permission to do all sorts of alterations to existing infrastructure. Will he clarify what infrastructure already in existence he wishes to alter and why? Why, in another case, does he want existing infrastructure that needs to be altered to be dealt with under a different planning regime?
That might be something that I will have to write to the hon. Gentleman about. As I said earlier, the clause allows the Secretary of State, by means of an order, to disapply the deemed planning permission granted under clause 10(1) in respect of maintaining or altering any Crossrail work from the date specified in the order. In that respect, I can understand the hon. Gentleman’s questions, but I might have to clarify these issues at a later date.