Conciliatory approach improves Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Bill


Transparent and meaningful dialogue between the promoter and objectors to the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) Bill has resulted in an improved bill, a parliamentary committee said today.

The EARL Bill Committee’s Phase 1 Consideration Stage report details the Committee’s decision on each outstanding objection to the rail scheme and applauds the conciliatory approach adopted between objectors and the promoter in overcoming obstacles to the proposal.

View the committee report

The approach will result in additional landscaping, improved access and better managed woodland along parts of the proposed route. For many directly affected by the scheme, the committee believes, this approach will result in reducing the impact of the EARL scheme on their personal and working lives to an acceptable level.

Noise and vibration monitoring will be undertaken over five years, rather than the six months initially proposed, with the Environmental Health Departments of relevant local authorities involved in monitoring.

Open dialogue will continue throughout the scheme due to a range of measures adopted in the Code of Construction Practice (CoCP), which includes local notification of any changes to working hours, rights of way, lorry movements and noisy activities. The committee will also request that the promoter amends the CoCP to state explicitly where consultation should continue on issues such as landscaping.

Convener of the EARL Bill Committee, Scott Barrie, said:

"The assessor hearings, a relatively new addition to the Private Bills procedure, were tremendously successful in enabling the promoter and objectors to understand each others views on the outstanding contentious issues.

"Whilst the committee still has concerns regarding other aspects of the bill, the meaningful dialogue entered into by the promoter and objectors from the earliest stages is to be commended and recommended to all future private bill promoters.”

Background to the Bill

The Edinburgh Airport Rail Link Bill is being promoted by Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (tie Ltd) which seeks statutory authority to build a new station at Edinburgh Airport and to construct new railways to connect this station with the national railway network.

The bill was introduced to Parliament on 16 March 2006 . A total of 48 admissible objections were lodged.

The general principles of the bill were agreed by parliament on 21 September 2006 following publication of the committee’s Preliminary Stage report.

This report gave preliminary consideration to all the objections lodged against the bill and rejected those where the objector’s interests were, in its opinion, not clearly adversely affected. At the commencement of Consideration Stage (21 September) there were 41 outstanding objections. The report gives the committee’s decision on each of the remaining objections.

Background to Private Bills

Private Bills are subject to different procedures than those set out for a Public Bill. Chapter 9A of Standing Orders and the Guidance on Private Bills set out the procedures in full. Private Bills are subject to a three Stage process: Preliminary Stage, Consideration Stage and Final Stage.

Consideration Stage is in two phases. The first phase involves evidence being taken from the promoter and objectors to the bill. Evidence was heard by an independent assessor, Professor Hugh Begg, who was appointed by the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body on 3 August 2006 to hear and consider evidence on the objections. The assessor then reported to the committee who could have taken further evidence on objections if it wished. It is the committee and not the assessor who makes the decision whether to accept or reject objections and whether to amend the bill to meet any issues raised by objectors.

Having reported with its decision on every outstanding objection to the bill the second phase of Consideration Stage is purely legislative, dealing with amendments to the bill. The Final Stage involves possible further amendments, followed by a debate in parliament and a vote on whether to agree or reject the bill in its final form.

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