Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations

High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 3rd March 2016.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Clause 62 provides that where a building not forming part of the phase 1 works authorised in the Bill—for example, a building over a station—is built to replace a building demolished or substantially demolished under the Bill, the planning application for that replacement building must be accompanied by an environmental assessment subject to certain conditions set out in subsection (1). It is a very sensible provision.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am grateful to the Minister for supplying me with the weighty tome of the environmental impact assessment. To show that I have started to read it, I should tell the Minister that I noticed that the assessment came about because of a European Union directive dealing with matters such as damage to the environment and air quality. That was a very welcome intervention by the European Union in protecting our environment.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

There has been debate as to how far the Government have complied with the Aarhus convention with regard to some of our environmental considerations. The Aarhus convention is separate from the European Union, although I have to agree with the hon. Gentleman —as someone who believes Britain is better in the European Union than out of it—that much of the EU’s environmental legislation is protecting people’s health here.

When representatives from the Commission came to the UK and saw the extent of our environmental work and consultation, they were very happy indeed that we were fulfilling all our obligations. A number of people have said that it is difficult to build anything in this country because of all the environmental legislation, but I think it is important that we protect our environment. Some of the areas through which we are building the line have particularly sensitive ecosystems. I am therefore proud that we have managed to do this with no net environmental loss, which is fantastic, and that 2 million trees will be planted, which will further enhance the environment.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 62 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 63