HC Deb 25 April 1967 vol 745 cc1320-1
33. Mr. Neave

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he will introduce legislation requiring statutory undertakings, such as the Southern Gas Board, to obtain planning consent before erecting gasholders or other buildings on land owned by them.

Mr. Greenwood

Statutory undertakers are already required to obtain planning permission before erecting gasholders or other high plant or buildings, except where authority has already been given by Parliament in a private Act or Order or the responsible Minister has directed that planning permission has been deemed to be given.

Mr. Neave

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the present position in regard to the Abingdon Gas Order, 1935, gives a wholly unfair discrimination in favour of public undertakings compared with private citizens who require planning permission? In view of the large number of gasholders which it is intended to erect in the country, will the right hon. Gentleman amend the law very urgently?

Mr. Greenwood

As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, I have confirmed an Article 4 direction, for which the local planning authority had asked, but as this may become the subject of a public appeal, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will excuse me if I do not comment on this case.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

As this is not a unique occurrence and as other cases of gas holders being sought to be erected under these powers are likely to arise, would the right hon. Gentleman say that, in the event of any other local planning authority asking for an Article 4 direction to the same effect, he will also accede to those requests?

Mr. Greenwood

I had better not commit myself in advance. This state of affairs has obtained for a number of years and it has generally speaking worked well Since the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) was Minister of Housing and Local Government, there has been a great deal of consultation between the statutory undertakers and the local planning authorities, but I realise that there are doubts as to whether the present method of resolving conflicts is the right one; and we are studying the position at the moment.