Highway subsoil

High Speed Rail (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 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 12 be the Twelfth schedule to the Bill.

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

Clause 8 allows the nominated undertaker to use any subsoil beneath the highway within the Bill limits which is required for the purpose of construction and maintenance of works authorised by the Bill, without the need formally to acquire the subsoil or any interest in it. This does not apply to cellars, vaults, archways or other structures that form part of a building fronting on to a highway.

Subsections (3) and (4) introduce schedule 12, which lists the highway allowed within the Bill limits where the powers to take subsoil or compulsorily acquire interest in the land cannot be exercised except in the case of street works, as per subsection (6). Subsection (5) provides that, in the case of highways in the land specified in the table in paragraph 1 of schedule 11, only subsoil that is more than nine metres beneath the level of the surface may be taken.

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

Obviously, layers of subsoil are important. There is a link to the depletion of high-quality soils. We need to preserve good soil for farming. Some farmers in this important agricultural area might have spent time improving the quality of soil on their land. We would like this issue to be addressed so that any movement of soil is managed with great care and caution.

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

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. I already attend meetings with the National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association. We will of course continue to work with them, and he will know that we try to reduce any environmental impact when building this railway line.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 12 agreed to.