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Restoration and Renewal: Impact on Roads and Air Quality

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 10 March 2022

11. What recent assessment the sponsor body has made of the impact of the restoration and renewal project on (a) roads and (b) air quality in London. (905965)

The restoration and renewal programme is committed to sustainability and meeting its environmental obligations. It had been working on developing a detailed and costed plan for restoration and renewal of the Palace, which would have included an environmental assessment on both the construction phase and the operations of the restored building. That work is currently paused following the decisions of both House Commissions in February.

Following what the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) said, I thought that John Bercow as Speaker made some really good, radical reforms in this place.

The project of construction works that we will carry out in renewing this estate will be the biggest since its reconstruction after the second world war. Is my right hon. Friend aware that we could put much of the work on the river rather than on the roads, which will pollute the atmosphere, destroy lives and ruin London’s transport system? Unfortunately, for the first scheme—the new museum and learning centre—a contract has been given to put all its materials on the road rather than on water. Will he look again at contracts that include transport on the river?

The sponsor body had been looking at using the Thames, and I agree that anything we can take off the roads is a positive thing. As I said, the work is currently paused. My hon. Friend may want to take the issue up with the Leader of the House in business questions to get some clarity.

The right hon. Gentleman rightly told us in detail about what has been done, and the environment and roads point is really important. Could the work that has been done be published as soon as possible?

I agree that a lot of work has gone into the project and, whatever the direction of travel is, it is important that we do not lose the valuable work already done. I have been involved in the project for many years and can certainly say that the people involved have worked incredibly hard on it and done incredible work. Whatever direction is taken, it is important that we value their work and use it to ensure that the scheme is improved as well as to protect this place. At the end of the day, whatever individuals’ views are on the project, it is about saving this Palace.