HC Deb 16 February 1948 vol 447 cc806-8
5 and 9. Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

asked the Minister of Works (1) on what grounds he gave permission to the Rugby Portland Cement Co. to extend their present workings in the vicinity of Totternhoe, Bedfordshire;

(2) whether he is aware of the resentment resulting from the obstruction and division of an old established right of way at Green Lanes near Totternhoe, Bedfordshire; for how long he expects this closure to be maintained; and why it has been permitted without a public inquiry.

6 and 8. Mr. Warbey

asked the Minister of Works (1) what steps he took to ascertain the views of local residents before authorising the Rugby Portland Cement Co. to extend their chalk workings in the vicinity of the Totternhoe Knolls, Bedfordshire;

(2) what action he is taking to prevent the obliteration by the Rugby Portland Cement Co. of a historical right of way known as Green Lanes, Totternhoe, Bedfordshire, and the threatened encroachment on the famous landmark and beauty spot known as Totternhoe Knolls.

Mr. Key

Interim development consent to extend the workings of the Rugby Portland Cement Company, Ltd., was given by the Luton Rural District Council, and, so far as I am aware, this does not involve an encroachment upon the Totternhoe Knolls. The right of way has been temporarily diverted with the agreement of the planning authority and the Totternhoe Board of Conservators, in order to enable the company to obtain the supply of chalk necessary to avoid a serious loss of cement production. The present diversion was never intended to be more than temporary, and is shortly due to come to an end.

Mr. Warbey

Can my right hon. Friend say, first of all, what steps were taken to ascertain the views of the Totternhoe Parish Council and of the local residents concerned in this matter; and, secondly, whether these famous Green Lanes are to be reinstated exactly as they were before, with the green turf and so forth, or whether the pathway is to take the form of a track across the bottom of the chalk pit?

Mr. Key

The latter is certainly not the case, but it would be impossible to say that they will be reinstated in precisely the same condition as they were. I understand that the parish council were informed; but as I got the agreement of the planning authority, which is the local rural district council, the position relating to this temporary diversion seemed to me to be satisfactory.

Mr. W. J. Brown

Is not the Minister aware that any extension of the connection between Rugby and Bedford, whether it be commercial, industrial or, above all, political, would be very much to Bedford's advantage?

Mr. Warbey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the parish council were only asked for their views on the day before the order was made by his Ministry, and that the letter which they received actually arrived after the order had been made? Is this the way to treat the representatives of the local people?

Mr. Key

The important people whom I had to consult were the local planning authority, who were the local rural district council; and, since they were not only concerned with the temporary diversion but also with the plan for the development of the whole, theirs was the sanction which was necessary to obtain to proceed with the work.

Mr. Henry Strauss

In the matter of planning, does the right hon. Gentleman consult only the local planning authority or the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Town and Country Planning, who may wish to consider the wider aspects?

Mr. Key

In most cases the wider aspects are considered and the national authorities are consulted.

Mr. Warbey

On a point of Order, I wish to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Motion for the Adjournment.