Protective provisions

High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 25th June 2019.

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

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

With this it will be convenient to consider that schedule 32 be the Thirty-second schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

Clause 43 introduces schedule 32, which protects the interests of statutory undertakers and other bodies who may be affected by other provisions of the Bill. The provisions are similar to those in the Crossrail Act 2008, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996 and the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Act 2017. The protective provisions of the schedule cover highways and traffic; electricity, gas, water and sewerage undertakers; electronic communications code networks; land drainage, flood defence, water resources and fisheries; and the Canal & River Trust.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (Transport) (Buses)

We believe that far more work needs to be carried out by the Government over a range of infrastructure projects to minimise the impact of development of sites, and not least to re-explore the issue of rail enhancement programmes and how rail should be used, wherever possible, to shift goods. That is explored in one of our new clauses.

We know that congestion causes pollution, and we know about its effect on communities and the environment. The Government are willing to carry out some monitoring work, but we would like them to do much more. Are they planning to monitor pollution in detail, and to publish new journey times? Projects such as HS2 have an impact not only on those working on the site, but on the wider population in the area. There should, as has been said, be further work. The Government need to respond to the dilemma, not address it superficially.

Paragraph 13 of schedule 32 deals with issues that I want to highlight concerning pedestrians, cyclists and other modes of transport, and how they cross the line. The schedule is not comprehensive enough, and we have drafted a new clause on the subject. We believe that pedestrians and cyclists should be at the top of the Government’s considerations in infrastructure projects, as the Government have targets for increasing walking and cycling. It would be somewhat ironic if an infrastructure project designed to improve transport withheld other aspects of it. The disruption to this group of highway users should be minimal. Bridges and tunnels can provide crucial access to those who need it, and can bring only greater connectivity to those who will be cut off by the HS2 line. The Government need to take a much closer look at this issue, and to address concerns that we will cover in a new clause.

Paragraph 14 of the schedule deals with the salient issue of highways repairs. We are becoming a pothole nation, as we have mentioned on other occasions in the House. Whether on major highways or smaller lanes, it is vital that proper repairs are made as damage occurs. Obviously, there will be damage in a major infrastructure project during which heavy goods vehicles will thunder down local roads. We want the Government to address that issue, which is of great importance to communities.

Photo of Nusrat Ghani Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The hon. Gentleman raises important points, but most of them are detailed extensively in the environmental statement. My Department and HS2 Ltd have engaged, and will continue to engage, with all those who are worried about their local communities, the environment, congestion and traffic movement. They will all have the opportunity to petition this House and the other place. The clause is necessary to minimise disruption and allow the delivery of the proposed scheme, protects the bodies involved, and enables them to continue to carry out their duties.

Freight has been raised a number of times; I look forward to responding to the new clause on that issue. In anticipation, let me I point out that we are doing what we can to ensure that freight will support the movement of construction materials, whether aggregates or rail cement, during the construction of the railway.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 43 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 32 agreed to.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

We now come to clause 44. I propose revising the grouping, and that we debate clause 44 with clauses 45 to 47. Anybody on the Committee may speak to any of those clauses. Is that acceptable to the Minister?