Enforcement of environmental covenants

High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 25th June 2019.

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

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

Clause 48 enables the Secretary of State to ensure that, following the construction of the scheme, he may impose conditions on land released where such land contains environmental mitigation for HS2. This is to ensure the maintenance of mitigation measures; upgrades to the mitigation, if required; and prohibition on uses of the land where such uses would detrimentally affect the measures in place. The clause binds successors in title into any covenant agreed with previous landowners. The Secretary of State or an authorised person may enforce the agreement.

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

This is an important clause, particularly the mitigating provision in subsection (2), which proposes planting trees and shrubs to replace habitat where work has been carried out. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get this right. We need to ensure that biodiversity needs are addressed with the right solutions. The proposal to replace trees with native species is positive, but we need to ensure that those species fit with the local environment, that there is proper biodiversity and that habitats are protected in line with local ecology.

As well as planting trees and shrubs, we need to ensure that they are in the right places so that, for example, they mitigate flooding and enhance the natural environment. New plantations should be open to the public where possible and we should seek to create environments that encourage biodiversity, so features such as natural watercourses should be used to their advantage.

The end of the route passes through the salt marshes south of Crewe. That is an unusual habitat and a special site in the country, so that should be taken into account in the preservation of the natural environment.

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

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point to consider when undertaking such a large construction project. We are working with all stakeholders he would hope we would work with, including the Woodland Trust, to ensure that we not only replace trees but plant them in the most appropriate places, and to mitigate as much as possible the impact on the environment. The substantial environmental statement covered most of those issues.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 48 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.