Clause 54

Crossrail Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 27 Tachwedd 2007.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Compensation for water abstraction

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

Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Shadow Minister (Transport)

Before we move on, I want some clarification from the Minister. The clause disapplies the provisions of the Water Resources Act 1991, which prohibits any form of water abstraction if it has injurious effects on another person. I understand that water abstraction might be a necessary part of the works performed to build Crossrail, but there are some serious implications that I want to consider with the Minister. Have the deposited plans identified any scenarios in which water will need to be abstracted in a way that might cause loss or damage? As I understand it, the clause is one of the few that has no precedent in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996. The Minister wants extra new powers that have no precedent. I am sure that they will be necessary because of the uniqueness of the Crossrail project, but will he tell us why the Secretary of State will need those plans and where on the identified route they are likely to apply?

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

As far as I know, the hon. Gentleman is correct that the measure is unprecedented in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act. The Bill is not intended as a carbon copy of that Act and many of the clauses in the Bill will be adopted by future Governments to inform the construction of their policy.

Clause 54(1) disapplies the provisions of the Water Resources Act 1991 that would otherwise impose an absolute prohibition on abstracting water if that causes loss or damage to another person. Such a restriction could well prevent or delay Crossrail works from being constructed. Clause 54(2) provides that where water abstraction has caused loss or damage, the person suffering the loss or damage must be compensated. The overall effect of the clause is that the duty to avoid damage by water abstraction creates the possibility of compensation for damage but not the possibility of a court injunction. The practical protection for property owners arises from the requirement that the Environment Agency pre-approve abstraction, for which the hon. Gentleman can refer to paragraph 3 of part 3 of schedule 16.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether any work had been done that would suggest that water abstraction could be to the detriment of the construction of Crossrail. Once again, because we are at such an early stage without even having started construction, the purpose of those who drafted the Bill was to try to foresee all circumstances in the hope that the powers in the clause would not ever have to be used. Once again, going back to the cost and importance of the project, it is only fair that we should adopt a belt-and-braces attitude.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 55 ordered to stand part of the Bill.