Clause 18

Part of Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 22 November 2007.

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Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 2:00, 22 November 2007

I can see what the hon. Gentleman is attempting to achieve with the amendment, but I can tell him that the powers featured in subsection (4) are not what he assumes them to be. I will explain.

The clause deals with the removal or lopping of overhanging trees on adjacent land that is necessary for the Crossrail works to be constructed or maintained, and for their safe operation. The nominated undertaker can give notice and, if there is no objection, can undertake the works after 28 days, if the owner has not dealt with the trees himself. If a counter-notice is served within the 28-day period, the notice has no effect unless confirmed by a county court. That provision is very similar to that provided under the 1996 Act, which used a procedure for notices and counter-notices similar to that provided under the Telecommunications Act 1984. That Act gives the landowner the suitable protection that he can choose to lop or remove the trees himself, but if he disputes the need for lopping or removal, he can serve a counter-notice. In that case, no action can be taken, unless the county court confirms the notice.

If the intention behind the amendment is that the county court should confirm every notice, whether contested or not, I would argue that it would add no benefit. If a landowner has done nothing about a notice, it is highly likely that the county court consideration would be uncontested. It is unclear, therefore, what such consideration would achieve. However, it would create extra work, including for the courts, and might cause delay. I therefore hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the amendment.