Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 4520 - 4539)

  4520. MR ELVIN: There was a report. The report of March 2001 rejected it. There were two difficulties. One, was the incidence of the route with deep pile foundations of buildings along the alignment and proposed new buildings (which now include the Heron Tower and a new building which is currently subject to an application under the safeguarding principles) and, also, because it gave rise to difficulties with connecting into Whitechapel Station. Whether you regard that as a study or not, it was a report.

  4521. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: It was a report, yes.

  4522. I have set out in paragraphs 33 and 34 of my response that the Environmental Statement on alternatives then structures the consideration of alternatives in a way which fits in with the history of Crossrail. You can see that from section 6.1 Section 6.2 is an overview of how Crossrail developed as a concept and the main alternatives that have been considered. Section 6.3 is an outline of the alternatives Crossrail routes that were considered. Section 6.4 is an overview of the route-wide stabling and depot options and section 6.5 is an outline for reasons for the selection of the electrification system. That is what the chapter on alternatives deals with.

  4523. Section 6.3 deals with the alternative routes in the way I have set out. It deals with three categories of alternatives: whole-route alternatives; central London route alternatives; and the eastern and western corridor alternatives. It divides it up as I discussed shortly with Lord Colville. We say that is ample compliance with a requirement to give an outline of the main alternatives which were studied by the Promoters.

  4524. In any event—I set this out in paragraph 36, and this is more than icing on the cake—in response to a request we did set out further consideration of the southern alignments in SES3—I fully accept this was not a specific consideration of Option B but a general consideration of southern alignments—and it was explained why they were unsatisfactory—again, because of the alignment and the foundation problems. To the extent that one ever needed to consider the question of southern alignments as a general issue and why they were rejected, it is already in the Environmental Statement, so we did not need to go that far, but, to be helpful to your colleagues in the House of Commons, we added in a section in SES3.[5]

  4525. My Lords, there is no duty to consider alternatives. There is no objective test; it is a pure question of; have we given an outline of the main alternatives which were in fact studied? Yes, we have done that and, for better or for worse, we have also given a general account of why southern alignments were rejected. There is no case to be made, we submit, on behalf of the Petitioners to suggest otherwise.

  4526. CHAIRMAN: Mr Horton, on the European Directive point, what is your answer?

  4527. MR HORTON: My answer, my Lord Chairman, is that this is not the broadside directed at the ship on which I am sailing, so it is of no use to me.

  4528. CHAIRMAN: It is what?

  4529. MR HORTON: This is not the broadside directed at the ship in which I am sailing and so it is of no use to me. It is directed at some argument that I have not presented.

  4530. CHAIRMAN: Then I do not think we understand in which ship it is that you are sailing.

  4531. MR HORTON: My Lord Chairman, that is my fault of course, my failure as an advocate. Yesterday, with great respect, your Lordship did appear to understand it. It is a very simple point.

  4532. CHAIRMAN: I thought we did. But evidently we do not.

  4533. MR HORTON: The transcript makes clear what we had all understood on behalf of the Petitioners yesterday—and, indeed, the Petition this morning is from that position—but something has gone wrong overnight and I know not what. The position is this: I make a very simple point, that it is not for the Promoters—in principle of any scheme and certainly not a scheme as important as this—to be the sole judge of what should be examined as a main alternative because that is a recipe for abuse. It is an objective test. Mr Elvin does not deal with that. The authorities on which he relies do not deal with it. Because, as far as I am aware, the point has never been taken before. It is an entirely new and very important point.

  4534. Perhaps I can address myself briefly to certain specific parts of my learned friend's written submission.[6] At page 3 he refers to "Was the issue of the southern alignments raised as part of the EIA process?" Of course it is right to say that consideration was given at an early stage—as you know from the 2001 report I showed you yesterday—to southern alignments. In particular, you will remember that on the map I showed you there was a B and a C. B was not rejected because of Heron Tower; C was. B does not affect Heron Tower. In case your Lordships are in any doubt about that: as a matter of fact, Heron Tower—and we have photographs we can show you this morning—is not in the way of route B. Objectively, therefore, all you have as the reason for having refused—as is conceded by the Promoter—to consider route B as a main alternative is that at the time it was rejected there had been planning applications on Staple Hall and another property which have subsequently been withdrawn and, therefore, it cannot possibly be judged at today's date, as your Lordship indicated to me—and I agree it was the only sensible approach—it cannot possibly be a basis for rejecting considering it as a main alternative. Mr Elvin's approach is simply rendered down to say in response to me—although he does not say it in terms, bizarrely—that it is not an objective test, it is a matter in the sole discretion of the Promoters.

  4535. CHAIRMAN: I do not think he is saying anything of the kind. Anyway, that is not what we are saying. I do not understand your objectivity point. Presumably it is for the Promoters rather than the EIA Directive to choose some alternatives. Is it not?

  4536. MR HORTON: Strictly speaking, it is for the Promoters to consider in the first alternative whether there are any alternatives that the Promoters wish to consider—to put it at its lowest, certainly.

  4537. CHAIRMAN: Whoever is the decision-making body could not possibly carry out that function at that stage.

  4538. MR HORTON: Correct.

  4539. CHAIRMAN: It would have to be the Promoter.

5   Crossrail Ref: P26, What is the obligation under the EIAD with regard to the alternatives? (d) SES3 (SCN-20080313-008) Back

6   Crossrail Ref: P26, Was the issue of the southern alignments raised as part of the EIA process? (SCN-20080313-001) Back

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