HC Deb 23 November 1967 vol 754 cc1468-9
22. Mr. Ian Gilmour

asked the Postmaster-General what discussions he has had with the Gas Council over the radio control of Great Britain's gas distribution grid.

Mr. Edward Short

My Department has been informed only recently of the Gas Council's requirements and, although discussions with it have already been opened, there is, of course, still a very great deal of detail to be examined.

Mr. Gilmour

Since the gas network evidently could be controlled through the telephone system, would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it would be utterly indefensible if, in addition to Stansted and other matters, the country must be further desecrated by the erection of hundreds of unnecessary masts?

Mr. Short

I quite agree. I am just as anxious to preserve the countryside as the hon. Gentleman. I would not authorise the radio link—and I have to give a licence for this—unless I was sure that it was the best way of doing it and that it could not be done satisfactorily by land line. However, 1,300 miles of high pressure gas pipe is something which must be controlled with the very greatest care. This must be gone into carefully, and we are still far from coming to a conclusion on it.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Would the right hon. Gentleman recognise that where this line passes through flat country, like The Fens, these sort of towers which are to be erected will be particularly conspicuous? Will he, therefore, give an assurance that before the final siting of these towers is decided upon he will consult local planning authorities?

Mr. Short

If I give a licence, the siting of the towers for the gas network would not be a matter for me but for the Gas Council, and it would have to get planning permission.