Robert Courts – 2022 Statement on the Portishead Branch Line

The statement made by Robert Courts, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 19 April 2022.

I have been asked by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Grant Shapps) to make this written ministerial statement. This statement concerns the application made by North Somerset District Council under the Planning Act 2008 for the construction of a new railway on the track-bed on the former branch line from Bristol to Portishead.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make his decision within three months of receipt of the Examining Authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to extend the deadline and make a statement to the House of Parliament announcing the new deadline.

The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on the Portishead branch line-MetroWest phase 1 development consent order application on 19 July 2021 and, following an earlier extension of four months to allow further consideration of environmental matters, the current deadline for a decision is 19 April 2022.

The deadline for the decision is now to be extended to 19 February 2023—an extension of seven months—to allow North Somerset District Council further time to demonstrate that funding for the entire scheme has been secured.

The decision to set the new deadline is without prejudice to the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent for the above application.