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Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order—

Clauses 1 to 42,

Schedule 1,

Clauses 43 to 84,

Schedule 2,

Clauses 85 to 93,

Schedule 3, Clauses 94 to 96,

Schedule 4,

Clauses 97 to 100,

Schedules 5 and 6,

Clause 101.—(Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Environment Bill [H.L.]

3.32 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater) My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Viscount Ullswater.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 58 [Purposes of National Parks]:

[Amendment No. 252A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

The Earl of Cranbrook moved Amendment No. 252B:

Page 64, line 25, after ("wildlife") insert (", natural features").

The noble Earl said: We move this afternoon into Part III of this Bill dealing with the national parks. My amendment applies to Clause 58 which deals with the purposes of the national parks. As the Committee may know, I am chairman of the statutory nature conservation body for England and therefore the

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Committee would expect me to be interested to ensure that that body plays the fullest possible part that it can in future arrangements for the national parks.

In considering the purposes of the national parks under this Bill, the Committee will recall that the report of the National Parks Review Panel—known as the Edwards Report, after its chairman—recommended a redefinition of the first purpose of national parks as,

    "to protect, maintain and enhance the scenic beauty, natural systems and the land forms, and the wildlife and cultural heritage of the area".

I have therefore welcomed in these restated purposes, as they appear in the Bill now, the special reference to wildlife. But this is not all that was recommended by the Edwards Committee. Moreover, I feel that reference to wildlife alone, without specific coverage of the geological and physiographical features—that is to say, the natural systems and land forms in Edwards' parlance—may mean that these are not clearly in the minds of some people, particularly those concerned with the future direction of the national parks.

I should remind the Committee that the nature conservation resource of England, in terms of SSSIs, comprises some 71 per cent. biological SSSIs—one could call them wildlife SSSIs—and 21 per cent. concerned with the earth sciences; and one could call them the natural systems and land form SSSIs. About 8 per cent. of our SSSIs are mixed. Overall, about 16 per cent. of the SSSIs lie within national parks, varying from almost 30 per cent. in Dartmoor down to 4 per cent. in the North York Moors at present.

The national parks are therefore very important in terms of the SSSIs that they contain. Some 16 per cent. of the total area of English SSSIs lie within the national parks, with the proportion of earth science SSSIs and biological SSSIs roughly as I have stated. In addition, in the earth sciences, there is a system which is well known and recognised by English Nature, known as the RIGS; that is, the regionally important geological sites. These are non-SSSI land form and natural features sites. In Exmoor there are 69 such sites and in the Lake District there are 81 such sites. I give those areas as two examples. Therefore, it is clear that in the future management of the national parks it will be important that these particular natural features and land forms will have to be considered. The significance of the natural feature resource in these parks is educational, for cultural and aesthetic purposes, and for other purposes which are not covered by the statutory position of SSSIs and therefore will lie clearly within the ambit of the parks and ought to be stated in purposes of the parks.

The kind of management decisions that will be needed are to protect these sites—both the statutory sites and the non-statutory sites—so as not to destroy or damage the natural features which have maintained their integrity and which are irreplaceable. Drumlins might be an example of that. They are the curious land forms that originate as a result of glacial activity. It will also be important, in terms of management, not to obscure features that have been exposed by human activities. Quite a number of these important sites can be in quarries or in pits and other exposures.

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It is important in park management that these sites should be enhanced in terms of the first purpose, so as to enable the educational, cultural and aesthetic objectives to be realised. This, again, is a function of park management and is not within the SSSI process. My amendment therefore proposes that the wording in Clause 58(1) (a) should state:

    "conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife, natural features and cultural heritage".

I beg to move.

Lord Renton: I support my noble friend Lord Cranbrook very warmly. In some national parks there are, for example, limestone outcrops of great interest where there would be a temptation to indulge in quarrying. We have to be careful that we do not disturb the natural features in such circumstances. I hope that my noble friend Lord Ullswater will be able to give a favourable reply.

Viscount Ullswater: I am grateful to my noble friend for informing the Committee of the background to his amendment. However, I hope to persuade him that it will not be necessary.

The Bill fulfils our central commitment to establish independent authorities for the 10 national parks in England and Wales. It also updates park purposes which will enable the new authorities to take a more integrated approach to the management of their areas. Those measures will enable the national park authorities more effectively to protect the qualities for which the national parks have been designated.

However, the qualities of the parks are comprised of so many elements that to attempt to enshrine them all in legislation could result in an inordinately long list of properties. However, I can assure my noble friend Lord Cranbrook that we regard the characteristic natural features of the parks as an integral part of their natural beauty, for which they have been designated as special areas. I hope that with that assurance my noble friend will be content to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Gisborough: I am rather suspicious of the amendment. One has to remember, particularly in relation to quarrying, that not only do people go to look at a national park but people want to work there. I believe that there is an expression that poverty is no better because it comes thatched. There are many aspects such as quarries which need to be opened up in order to bring employment, and that should not be prevented by a total ban.

The Earl of Cranbrook: In answer to the noble Lord who has just spoken, quarrying can proceed very effectively under the right controls, even on special sites.

In terms of the answer given by my noble friend the Minister, the issue is whether there is a clear public understanding that natural features, as I defined them—and I hope that I explained their importance—are included in "natural beauty". They are an important and scientific element of what needs to be managed and enhanced as a nature conservation resource.

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I hope that my noble friend will come forward at some stage with a form of words which will separate and clearly identify the natural features as I defined them. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Norrie moved Amendment No. 253:

Page 64, line 28, leave out ("understanding and enjoyment") and insert ("quiet enjoyment and understanding").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 253 I have the full support of the 45 environmental and amenity organisations which make up the Council for National Parks, the national park authorities, the Countryside Commission, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, and many other environmental bodies.

National parks cover 10 per cent. of the land area of England and Wales. As was apparent during the passage of my Private Member's Bill, their value to the nation is recognised across all political parties. They are not and never have been a party political issue. They are part of the national heritage of us all and are therefore worthy of the right legislative package based on the recommendations of the widely respected National Parks Review Panel.

First, I wish to make it clear beyond doubt that Clause 58 and my amendment to it are concerned with the kind of recreation which the national parks have a statutory agreement to promote. My amendment does not set out to give national parks a purpose to ban any particular recreational activity. The debate is about promoting, not banning.

Secondly, I wish to emphasise that both the clause and the amendment are concerned with enjoyment and recreation. They do not impinge upon farming, forestry, quarrying and other land management operations. Having clarified those points I shall explain what my amendment seeks to achieve and why it is necessary.

When the recreational purpose of national parks was originally drafted in 1949 it was intended that the parks would promote quiet pursuits. At that stage no one could envisage the growth in noisy and intrusive motorised recreational activities. No Minister imagined the emergence of the jet ski or the towed inflatable crocodile on to the waters of our parks.

The attitude at the time when the national parks were created is set out in the Dower Report, which stated:

    "Those who come to National Parks should be such as to wish to ... take their recreation, active or passive, in ways that do not impair the beauty or quietude, nor spoil the enjoyment of them by others".

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In 1990 the National Parks Review Panel, whose recommendations enjoy a wide level of support inside and outside Parliament, recommended new legislation to clarify the 1949 wording, which was "to promote public enjoyment". The report said:

    "We see National Parks as places for quiet enjoyment. Walking and sightseeing are still the most popular activities, but more organised or active forms of recreation are on the increase. Many activities are to be welcomed, but not all will be consistent with National Park purposes".

In response to the panel's report the Government made a clear commitment to introduce legislation which would:

    "refer expressly to quiet enjoyment and understanding".

Clause 58 as presently drafted fails to live up to that promise. The amendment fulfils the promise, no more, no less. The Bill gives the national parks a duty to promote all kinds of enjoyment by the public of the parks' special qualities. It is not sufficiently precise on the type of activities which national parks should promote. Those include opportunities for spiritual refreshment and renewal, activities which do not intrude on the quiet enjoyment of others, and those that depend on muscle power, not motor power.

Clause 59 does not offer a framework for dealing with the incompatibilities between various recreational pursuits. It deals only with the conflict between conservation and recreation and not the conflict between different types of recreation.

By making it clear that national parks should be involved in promoting quiet enjoyment, the amendment sets the correct framework. It would not remove either rights of way or rights of navigation for motorised vehicles and craft. I respect such rights. However, it provides a clear context for management in circumstances where conflict between recreations may arise. Such potential conflicts should, as now, be decided on a case-by-case basis through well-established consultative and accountable procedures such as the use of by-laws, traffic regulation orders or development and management policies where appropriate.

Is "quiet" the appropriate word? It is the word which has been used in the national park context since at least 1945. The question has been asked whether that word can be used in national park legislation because "quiet enjoyment of property" is used in landlord and tenant legislation. I have been given legal advice that it is not at all unusual for phrases or words to have various meanings in the context of different legislation. "Quiet enjoyment" can be given a meaning in this Bill just as the phrase "natural beauty", which at first appears difficult to define, has an acquired meaning in national park and countryside legislation. Indeed, the draftsman has deemed it appropriate to use it in this Bill.

While speaking of definitions, I wish to make it abundantly clear that there is no intention that a statutory purpose to promote quiet enjoyment should adversely affect traditional field sports. That is certainly

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not my intention in moving the amendment. I look to the Government to provide a definition of quiet enjoyment which gives that assurance.

Can all those matters be left to the circular guidance? I am advised not. Guidance could not establish such a fundamental principle if it is not set out in the legislation. I suggest that the draft guidance runs into many difficulties in explaining enjoyment of special qualities precisely because the framework provided by the legislation is inadequate. There are, therefore, many problems for guidance on the subject of enjoyment. I believe that my noble friend Lord Addison proposes to address the point.

The intention underlying Amendment No. 253 is to provide an adequate framework. I am sure that the Government are as anxious as I am not to see national parks involved in promoting activities which damage the enjoyment of the majority of the many visitors to the parks as well as potentially damaging the parks themselves. The present drafting leaves open that possibility.

Making it clear that the national parks have a statutory purpose to promote "quiet enjoyment and understanding" will be immensely popular. My postbag supports that. In this way, the special qualities of national parks can be retained for all to enjoy in the future. I beg to move.

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