Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Thirtieth Report


30 July 1998

By the Select Committee appointed to report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny; to report on documents laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under section 1(4) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.




  1.  This proposal,[1] which was laid before Parliament on 15 June 1998, amends the Pipe-lines Act 1962. The amendments relate to four proposed changes discussed below. The 1962 Act regulates on shore pipe-lines in Great Britain, except those of public gas transporters, water companies, the Crown and some minor classes of pipe-line. The Act creates two categories of pipe-line. "Cross country" pipe-lines (exceeding 10 miles) require a pipe-line construction authorisation (PCA) from the Secretary of State. A PCA carries deemed planning permission. "Local" pipe-lines (not longer than 10 miles) must be notified to the Secretary of State and require local authority permission under the general planning legislation.


(i) Written procedure for PCA applications

  2.  An applicant for a PCA has to publish notice of his plans and serve notice on the local planning authority, relevant landowners, etc. If there are objections the PCA cannot be granted unless they are resolved by negotiation (and withdrawn) or they have been heard by an Inspector in public. The proposal is to allow the Secretary of State to choose to employ a written representation procedure unless an objector does not agree to this.

  3.  This proposal removes a burden on applicants for a PCA. The Department estimate that the use of written representations would save the applicant £20,000 to £40,000.

  4.  An objector can still insist on a public hearing. An applicant can only object to the written procedure being used if the Secretary of State proposes to use it after embarking on the process of an inquiry or hearing. The Committee has borne in mind the facts that all those who responded (including those representing the interests of possible applicants) broadly welcomed the proposal and that at present inquiries and hearings to hear objections to applications under section 1 of the Pipe-lines Act 1962 are rare since objections tend to be withdrawn following negotiation between the parties. Applicants are also likely to welcome the written procedure, since it is intended to be easier and cheaper to use than an inquiry or hearing. The Committee therefore considers that no necessary protection would be lost by either an applicant or an objector to this part of the proposal.

  5.  The only doubts expressed during consultation related to the absence of any criteria for the exercise of the Secretary of State's power to determine the procedure. The Department argue it is not possible to set out specific criteria and that no necessary protection will be lost if the matter is left to the Secretary of State's discretion. The Committee agrees with this approach.

 (ii) Repeal of section 2 (notification to Minister before work begins)

  6.  Section 2 requires the Minister to be notified not less than 16 weeks before work begins on the construction of a pipe-line. Repeal is proposed because the Department makes no use of the notification.

  7.  In the view of the Committee, this is the smallest of burdens but its disuse provides the strongest of cases for removing it. The aim behind section 2 was to allow the Department to give notice of safety requirements under the Act (safety is now ensured under other legislation) and to enable the Department to consider whether the grant of any rights on street or river works consent was necessary before construction. The Department makes no use of the notification as it is up to the applicant to obtain rights or consents from the appropriate bodies or persons. The Committee concludes that there is thus no loss of necessary protection. There were no dissents during consultation.

 (iii) Repeal of section 7 (supplementary provisions)

  8.  The effect of section 7 is to apply section 1 of the Act to those who wish to join together existing pipe-lines or to extend an existing pipe-line if, in either case, the result is a pipe-line more than 10 miles long. The result of the repeal is that the Act will apply to the proposed new pipe-line according to its length without the addition of the length of existing pipe-lines to which it will connect.

  9.  There will be a reduction of the burden on the applicant if the new pipe-line is not more than 10 miles long as he will not need a PCA.

  10.  The Explanatory Memorandum discusses the concerns of respondents concerning necessary protection and argues that no necessary protection would be lost because the applicant would have to obtain planning permission and obtain easements from the owners of the land through which the pipe-line would pass.[2]

  11.  The Committee noted that in response to the consultation exercise the Country Landowners Association said that it thought promoters might prefer to use the PCA procedure (see paragraph 62 of the Explanatory Memorandum). The consultation process does not appear to have discovered objections based on the loss of necessary protection, though the Explanatory Memorandum reveals complex concerns about the proposed repeal of section 7. These concerns are set out in paragraphs 61 to 78 of the Explanatory Memorandum.

  12.  The Committee sought—and received—written reassurance from the Department on the question whether the requirement to obtain a PCA imposed any requirement which could be seen as necessary protection but would not be replaced by equivalent protection under the alternative procedure (obtaining planning permission and negotiating easements).[3]

(iv) Repeal of section 3 (diversion of pipe-lines)

  13.  Section 3 requires a pipe-line diversion authorisation from the Secretary of State if a cross-country pipe-line is diverted outside the corridor of 200 metres either side of the median line proposed in the PCA for the original project. The section also requires such an authorisation if a diversion to a local pipe-line makes its total length more than 10 miles. The result of repeal would be that any diversion would be treated as a new pipe-line and would require a PCA only if the length of the diversion exceeded 10 miles (this is the case only if section 7 is also repealed).

  14.  The Explanatory Memorandum (paragraph 33) says that the applicant would not have to prepare a full application for a pipe-line diversion authorisation but only a planning application "which should be more straightforward". In the view of the Committee this is just sufficient to amount to a reduction in a burden.

  15.  On necessary protection the issues are similar to those in relation to the repeal of section 7 and the Committee is satisfied that necessary protection would be maintained. The Explanatory Memorandum deals with the issue in paragraphs 34 and 35 and there is also relevant material in the section on consultation (see paragraphs 79 to 81).

  16.  The Committee concludes that each aspect of the proposal would remove a burden, and that necessary protection could be maintained by each aspect of the proposal.


  17.  The proposal contains a number of amendments consequential upon the main provisions. These are outlined in paragraphs 86-100 of the Explanatory memorandum and concern provisions relating to information, non-proliferation/third party access, and emergency works.

  18.  The Committee considers that all the additional amendments proposed can be said to fall within section 1(4)(b) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 ("such modifications .... as .... are consequential upon, or incidental to, the amendment or repeal of the relevant enactment"—ie the enactment that imposed the burden which is to be removed or reduced).


  19.  The first consultation paper was issued on 7 February 1997 and requested responses by 2 May 1997. As a result of those responses a second paper was issued on 2 March 1998 requesting responses by 27 April 1998. The lists of those who were consulted (or volunteered comments) are set out in Annexes A and B to the Explanatory Memorandum.

  20.  As has been mentioned above, the proposal contains a number of amendments consequential upon the main provisions. These were not included in the original consultation. The Department has, however, written to all those consulted detailing the amendments concerned.[4]

  21.  The Committee is satisfied that there was adequate consultation on the proposal.


  22.  The Committee is satisfied that the proposal for the Draft Deregulation (Pipe-lines) Order 1998 meets the requirements of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and is appropriate to be made under it, without amendment.

1   The proposal was laid before Parliament in the form of a draft of the Order and an Explanatory Memorandum from the Department of Trade and Industry. Back

2   See paragraphs 19 to 26 of the Explanatory Memorandum. Back

3   The Department's note is printed at Annex A to this Report. Back

4   See Explanatory Memorandum, paragraph 85. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998