Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 250 - 259)




  250. Good afternoon, gentlemen. Can I welcome you most warmly and ask you to identify yourselves?
  (Captain Chestnutt) I am Captain James Chestnutt. I am the Harbour Master at Southampton and Marine Adviser to ABP.
  (Mr Lerenius) Madam Chairman, I am Bo Lerenius. I am the Group Chief Executive of ABP.
  (Captain Hames) Madam Chairman, I am Captain Paul Hames, Harbour Master of the Humber Estuary.

  251. Thank you. Mr Lerenius, did you want to say something to begin with?
  (Mr Lerenius) No, madam Chairman. I think we are ready to take the questions.

  252. Current planning obligations have been criticised for being insufficiently transparent, and there is also a suggestion they are slow, they are unpredictable and, in some cases, they are unfair, and you have long planning delays. Would the proposed changes to planning legislation lead to less comprehensive consideration of planning proposals?
  (Mr Lerenius) Are you talking about the proposal put by Lord Falconer?

  253. Generally, because, after all, what happens in planning is of considerable importance to you and to your members.
  (Mr Lerenius) As we said in our submission, and I repeat, is that overall I think we have a pretty simple view on this. We obviously respect the procedure that is there and we have to cope with that. Obviously, also as a socially responsible company, anything that has to do with the environment we have to sort out in a socially responsible way. The only thing we are saying is that if anything we want a simple process, a fair process and maybe a slightly quicker process than we see today.

  254. What effects so far have the existing laws had on the Dibden Bay proposal?
  (Mr Lerenius) Do you mean the effects on time and so on?

  255. On the way that you operate.
  (Captain Chestnutt) The proposals that were put forward as the fast track proposals have had no impact whatsoever because of course they have not been worked through. What we have noticed is that the public inquiry itself has been run under the guidelines which came into effect yesterday whereby there is a much more structured approach and a much more rigid timetable than I think was hitherto the case. That has undoubtedly benefited the process.

  256. So you think that has been quite helpful?
  (Captain Chestnutt) Yes, I do.

  257. That is interesting. What proportion of the approximately billion pounds' worth of works to upgrade the rail network at Southampton, Dibden Bay, would you expect to be responsible for?
  (Captain Chestnutt) You will forgive me if I dispute the billion in the first instance. First, I do agree with the SRA that we would need to have some capacity enhancement at Southampton, not only for Dibden, as you mentioned, but also for the existing port. That is there and running and flourishing.

  258. You agree with them presumably which bits we are talking about?
  (Captain Chestnutt) Yes, in outline. We have done a tremendous amount of work on this, as you can imagine, and we have put forward to the inquiry our views on what needs to be done and our views on what the total cost of that might be.

  259. But you are disputing the billion pound figure?
  (Captain Chestnutt) We do not agree.

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