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The Earl of Lytton: Clearly I shall not press the matter at this stage of the proceedings, and certainly not at such a late hour. I shall read the Minister's response very carefully. I thank the noble Viscount for his response. I believe that there are problems involved. However, I take the Minister's point that, if no particular cases have been brought forward, he is in a difficult position as regards taking account of something which may be regarded as a speculative threat. I believe that the situation is worse than that. I shall consider the matter carefully. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 360:


Page 201, line 43, leave out ("In").

The noble Lord said: In moving the above amendment, I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos. 361, 362, 364, 365 and 366. The primary amendments seek to prevent the planning authorities replacing the National Rivers Authority as statutory consultees in respect of applications for waste management licences and, of course, applications for the surrender of such licences.

Perhaps I may address my remarks to the future, to the time when the Bill becomes enacted and the agency takes over those responsibilities. The involvement of the NRA in those matters was justified by its responsibility for the protection of ground and surface waters. It is difficult however to see exactly what the planning authorities are expected to contribute over and above what they have already achieved through the planning function. The planning authority is dealing at the outset with land use issues and of course, to some extent, the environmental impact of such uses. It will have had ample opportunity to impose appropriate conditions through the planning process. Similarly, planning conditions relating to restoration will not be affected by the surrender of a licence. The planning authority will retain its powers to enforce such conditions.

The guidance of July 1994—departmentally, I think, referred to as PPG23; the Committee might like to know that it is a planning and pollution control guidance document—was issued by the department after four years of consultation. That guidance emphasises the

14 Feb 1995 : Column 672

very clear distinction which has to be drawn between the quite separate roles of planning and licensing. The matters which need to be addressed under each regime are set out in that document. I remind the Committee that to a great extent I am speaking with the advice of the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors, and it is indeed its view, and certainly my view, that if we make the planning authorities statutory consultees on licences and allow the planning authorities a second bite at the cherry, so to speak, that will encourage a further blurring of the line between planning and licensing and that would certainly go against the spirit of the guidance. I have read the document PPG23.

The amendments I have down would not in any way prevent the agency consulting a wide range of bodies, including planning authorities, but that would be on a voluntary basis. But they would certainly—if my amendments were accepted—avoid excessive and pointless bureaucracy. It would be pointless as the agency is not to be required to take into account planning authorities' representations. If one runs —as I understand is common practice—a twin-track approach, both a planning application and a licence application, there seems little point in having the planning authority decide at one end that certain conditions should apply, the licensing authorities then proposing their own regulation and their own conditions, and then the planning authority having a second bite. That seems quite pointless.

I realise the planning authorities are perhaps somewhat bruised by the change of emphasis in their responsibilities that will occur when these powers move from the NRA to the agency. But, again, they will have to stomach the change. It is sad for them; they like to hold on to their bureaucratic authority. However, I am suggesting to the Committee that this is totally unnecessary and totally against the spirit of four years' work that finished with the planning guidance. Blurring of the responsibilities will cause confusion and will result in the licensees feeling deprived of natural justice, while a bureaucratic argument between licensing authority and planning authority will delay the procedures and cost an enormous amount of money. I beg to move.

Viscount Ullswater: These amendments would remove the provisions in paragraphs 44(3) and 46(3) of Schedule 18 to the Bill which require the agencies to refer any proposal to issue or to accept the surrender of a waste management licence to the appropriate planning authority, and to consider any representations from them. They would also remove the existing requirement to consult the Health and Safety Executive where it is proposed to issue such a licence.

Much has been said in Committee about the need to ensure that the agency is properly accountable at a local level. This provision in the Bill will ensure that planning authorities continue to be informed about waste licence proposals and have an opportunity to comment on them. They have an important role to play because of their responsibilities for the land use and amenity of their area and for drawing up development plans.

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Planning authorities have a legitimate interest in whether the agency intends to grant a licence or accept its surrender and in any conditions it is proposed to impose. Waste facilities will normally require both planning permission and a waste management licence and although each regime has its own separate purpose and function the dividing line is not always clear cut. The Government have recently set out guidance on the respective roles of the planning and pollution control systems in Planning Policy Guidance Note 23, as my noble friend indicated. This stresses the need for proper consultation between planning and pollution control authorities. It is, for instance, important that licence conditions do not conflict with planning conditions already imposed and that planning authorities have the opportunity to comment on any possible land use implications. Planning authorities may also need to take account of relevant licence conditions in drawing up their development plans.

I hope that for those reasons my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth: I am grateful to my noble friend the Minister for his explanation, which I do not find encouraging. I believe that it is a fudging of the issue, with the exception of my noble friend's mention of the HSE. I had overlooked its role in the matter. If my amendment precludes the HSE then it is defective, but only in that regard.

My noble friend said in effect that the planning authority has the first bite of the cherry. It can then impose conditions to which the licensing authority will be bound to have regard. That is not necessary. It blurs the issue if the planning authority, perhaps five years or two months later, says to the licensing authority, "We have had second thoughts. We would like to do something else". If it wants to do something different the planning authority has the authority through the planning procedures to impose different conditions and different regulations. Therefore, I do not believe that my noble friend's answer holds much water.

The dividing line in the planning policy guidance is clear. There is no doubt about it. If it is not clear why spend four years getting all the parties involved to agree to it? It came out only in July last year. It has not been put to the test. Now, six or seven months later, in this Bill we are seeking to undo all that work.

I am not happy with my noble friend's answer. I accept the point concerning the HSE. I should like to have another look at what I have set down. In the meantime I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 361 and 362 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendments Nos. 362A and 362B:


Page 202, leave out lines 41 and 42 and insert:
(""National Park authority", subject to subsection (11A) below, means a National Park authority established under section 60 of the Environment Act 1995 which has become the local planning authority for the National Park in question;").
Page 202, line 47, at end insert:

14 Feb 1995 : Column 674


("(11A) As respects any period before a National Park authority established under section 60 of the Environment Act 1995 in relation to a National Park becomes the local planning authority for that National Park, any reference in this section to a National Park authority shall be taken as a reference to the National Park Committee or joint or special planning board for that National Park.").

The noble Viscount said: I spoke to the amendments with Amendment No. 258ZB on 2nd February. I beg to move the amendments en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 363 to 366 not moved.]

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendments Nos. 366A and 366B:


Page 203, leave out lines 49 and 50 and insert:
(""National Park authority", subject to subsection (12A) below, means a National Park authority established under section 60 of the Environment Act 1995 which has become the local planning authority for the National Park in question;").
Page 203, line 52, at end insert:
("(12A) As respects any period before a National Park authority established under section 60 of the Environment Act 1995 in relation to a National Park becomes the local planning authority for that National Park, any reference in this section to a National Park authority shall be taken as a reference to the National Park Committee or joint or special planning board for that National Park.").

The noble Viscount said: I spoke to these amendments with Amendment No. 258ZB. I beg to move.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 366C not moved.]

9.30 p.m.

Lord Lucas of Chilworth moved Amendment No. 367:


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