Clause 26 - Ancient monuments

High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 1 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)

In many ways, this clause on ancient monuments is similar to clause 25, which was on listed buildings. Clause 26 introduces schedule 19, which disapplies or modifies controls on ancient monuments to allow the construction of phase 1 of HS2. The schedule allows a person authorised by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England to enter on to land on which there is a scheduled monument to observe or advise on the carrying out of works to ensure the protection of such monuments. Similar provisions were included in the Crossrail Act 2008.

The promoter is in the process of agreeing a heritage agreement with Historic England in relation to ancient monuments such as Grim’s ditch in the Chilterns. The agreement will establish an approvals process to ensure that works subject to clause 26 and schedule 19 are carried out appropriately. If the Bill is passed, phase 1 of HS2 will have been approved by Parliament, and parliamentary approval will give all the consent necessary to construct the railway. Those are the powers that are being used in this way. Once again, all works must be done in accordance with the environmental minimum requirements.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

In the same vein, the Minister makes a valid point. It is a bit of an eggs and omelettes situation so far as listed buildings are concerned, but perhaps there is greater scope to preserve ancient monuments or take them to another site. Is he able, now or at a later date, to give detail about how many monuments will be treated in that way? I am sure that it will be considered, given the involvement of Historic England, but has it been identified as a possibility in any particular instance? Could it be rolled out elsewhere?

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

We certainly will be advised by Historic England on how we can address particular instances. Indeed, a heritage agreement will establish a process for approving how works will be carried out, which will include recording the features, protecting those features where they remain in situ but could be affected by the construction, and possibly reusing features. The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the Euston arch, which is no longer an ancient monument or a listed building, as it  was destroyed, but he is right that a number of important elements of that structure could be reused. The Secretary of State is keen to reconstruct the Euston arch as a feature of the railway. I wondered whether we could have some sort of hologram instead, but he much prefers bricks, stone and mortar than something a bit more high-tech.

I hope that the Committee will be assured that we are conscious of the need, in the same way as with historic and listed buildings, to protect ancient monuments to ensure that the impact on our heritage, on our countryside and on features that we wish to preserve is at the forefront of our minds. We are working with organisations that are best placed to advise us on how best to do that.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 26 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 19 agreed to.