Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 4500 - 4519)

  4500. CHAIRMAN: We are the local planning authority.

  4501. MR ELVIN: You are the local planning authority for these purposes.

  4502. The fact that in some planning cases alternatives may be a material planning consideration—in contrast to the normal rule that they are not and each case is decided on its merits—has nothing to do with the obligation under the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive which is directed to the planning question of whether an application should be rejected because there is a better alternative. In the Bill process it is a matter for :Parliament whether it accepts the general alignment in the Bill, or whether to seek its amendment, but that is a matter for the democratic parliamentary process. It is also possible for the Promoters to advance an amendment and to justify it to Parliament. However, once the principle of the Bill (whether as originally deposited or as amended) has been fixed, it is not for the Petitioners to seek to advance a case against it before the Committee.

  4503. Could I interpose there with regard to the Command Papers, to remind the Committee that Lord Bassam at second reading in this house drew the attention of the House to those Command Papers . The reference in Hansard is 9 January, House of Lords/Commons 89-5.

  4504. CHAIRMAN: I sat through the whole debate, so I heard it. I dare say others of my colleagues did too.

  4505. MR ELVIN: I am grateful. The next point to arise is: Was it a main alternative? Clearly it was not and Mr Horton accepts we did not consider it a main alternative. Perhaps, however, I could put it in context for your Lordships, as I have done from paragraph 30 onwards.[4] It was not a main alternative but an early discarded alternative to one aspect of one route window of the project. Even in the March 2001 report referred to by the Association it was one of several options. We had A; a variant of A: A1; B; a variant of B: B1; and C.

  4506. The main alternatives to Crossrail emerged through a lengthy process, and it can be seen in this context how minor the consideration of Option B was. First, the early history of the Crossrail proposals you will find in IPA1, which sets out how the Bill proposals were developed. It is also described in detail in the alternatives chapter, in the ES, Chapter 6. The process included the London East-West Study (LEWS) in 2000 which considered several strategic options, and from 2001 the CLRL began the process of refining the options which are summarised in IPA1. That process, of course, include the March 2001 report. It was an earlier report looking at the various options for one of the route windows. This led eventually, in September 2003, to Crossrail producing its benchmark scheme in its business case. That benchmark scheme was then the subject of detailed examination by Mr Adrian Montague, who was appointed by the Secretary of State to examine the business case for Crossrail. Mr Montague, in his report which he delivered in July 2004, looked in considerable length at the various alternatives to Crossrail. He looked at the cost-benefit of the various options that were available and to advise the Secretary of State as to what the best approach should be. He did that by reference to the benchmark case and to alternatives across the route. It is fair to say, looking at the Montague Report, that it never goes down to the sort of detail that is looking at one small option for one route window. They are major options looking across the site. As we say, of course, "main alternatives" are main alternatives to Crossrail not to one part of one route window.

  4507. CHAIRMAN: Yesterday you presented it in three packages.

  4508. MR ELVIN: And Montague did the same.

  4509. CHAIRMAN: Very well. But it is not three packages; it is one scheme.

  4510. MR ELVIN: It was divided into three simply to make it easier.

  4511. CHAIRMAN: It is unhandleable, otherwise.

  4512. MR ELVIN: It is very possible to put all these alternatives on to one plan but it becomes less easy to read.

  4513. CHAIRMAN: It would go on to the end of the room.

  4514. MR ELVIN: Quite. Montague made various recommendations, which I am sure you are familiar with, and on 20 July 2004, following the Montague report, the Secretary of State announced in Parliament, government support for Crossrail and that he would be introducing the Hybrid Bill and that he was asking CLRL to develop the route proposals in the light of the Montague recommendations.

  4515. CLRL then refined the Montague recommendations to produce the Bill scheme—which of course has been subject to some amendment as it has proceeded, but that is how the Bill scheme came into being.

  4516. The main alternatives then and the way this process came forward are set out not only in IPA1 but also in Chapter 6. In paragraph 32 of my response you will see that Option B was eliminated in March 2001, two-and-a-half years before the benchmark scheme had been produced by CLRL. It was eliminated at a very early stage. It was eliminated three-and-a-quarter years before the Montague report was published considering the main alternatives so far as cost-benefit analysis was concerned. It therefore was rejected nearly four years before the Bill was introduced at a very early stage. We simply say that in that context there is no credible case for suggesting that you could regard Option B as a main alternative. You can see what a minor part of the process it formed in that context.

  4517. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I understand that it was not considered as a main alternative but, because it surfaced so many times, we have seen a study which shows why it was eliminated at an early stage. Could you remind me why it was eliminated.

  4518. MR HORTON: With great respect, my Lord is wrong. There is no study. That is quite wrong. There is a line or two explaining why it was rejected.

  4519. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I withdraw the word "study". We saw a plan.

4   Crossrail Ref: P26, What is the obligation under the EIAD with regard to the alternatives? (c) Was Option B a main alternative (SCN-20080313-006 to -007) Back

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