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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I was trying to point out that the concept of sustainable development should be left to the guidance produced by Ministers which will be subject to review. I do not believe it would be right for me to indicate what I believe sustainable development to be. Especially after Pepper v. Hart, it would be better left to the guidance which will be issued by Ministers.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, it would be inappropriate for me to seek to sum up all the points that have been made and there is much that will bear consideration when we come to read the report of this debate. I am not sure whether the Minister's proposal for sustainable development to be dealt with by guidance tempts noble Lords towards the amendments about parliamentary scrutiny which I put down but did not move or whether, having highlighted this issue, when we come to it at Third Reading they will feel that they cannot face debating sustainable development in that context. However, it is clearly a matter to which we shall return.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, for complimenting me on my drafting. It was intended to be more than just mere form. He described it as rarefied. Perhaps I may say to him that it was because of his careful analysis at the previous stage that I pursued the

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matter, having been given the confidence to do so. I thank the Minister for taking so many points on board. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 29, as an amendment to Amendment No. 28, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 30 not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 28 agreed to.

Clause 6 [General provisions with respect to water]:

Lord Northbourne moved Amendment No. 31:


Page 6, line 45, at end insert ("by day and by night").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, introduced an amendment about light pollution which relates to the destruction of the beauty of the landscape at dusk and at night by powerful artificial lighting. This issue has been taken up by the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, of which the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, is the distinguished president. It is an important issue. To date it has tended to be the case that planning authorities and others have not regarded pollution of the night landscape as an important issue.

In Committee there was considerable support for the idea behind the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. I am therefore pressing it again in a different form. The amendments offer a route by which we can make it absolutely clear that this is an important issue and that the agency should be concerned about it.

Lord Moran: My Lords, in Committee I strongly supported the amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, and spoke at length about it. I shall not repeat now what I said then. I should like very much to support the amendment put forward by my noble friend Lord Northbourne. It is extremely important. We are considering conservation. Any night when one drives through the countryside and sees the orange glow of sodium light in every village in every part of the country one sees the appalling effect of this environmental degradation. Something needs to be done about it. It is quite right that the environment agency should concern itself with these matters. I support the amendment.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I am looking very closely at the wording of paragraph (a) of Clause 6(1) as it stands which the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, wishes to amend and amplify.

One must bear in mind that as the clause stands at the moment the words "natural beauty and amenity" are followed by the words "of inland and coastal waters". That would seem to cover the word "water" in the noble Lord's amendment. The words "land associated with such waters" would seem to cover "landscape". The noble Lord has in his favour the fact that the Bill says nothing about the sky, but his amendment does.

I agree that the beauty of the landscape can vary very much by day and by night and in different atmospheric conditions. The amendment makes that clear. I sometimes believe that it is a little dangerous to impose words of limitation. These words do that in that they seek to define the expression "natural beauty". From the

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drafting point of view it is not an altogether easy matter, but I believe that what the noble Lord has proposed about the beauty of the sky should not be overlooked.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, perhaps I may draw the attention of the House to the fact that I believe I made a mistake in not saying that I was also speaking to the three other amendments which stand in my name on this subject. I apologise for that.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I strongly support the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne. Notwithstanding the point made by my noble friend Lord Renton, I believe that the noble Lord's amendments are a much neater way of putting forward the need to control pollution by excessive light than my amendment at Committee stage. Noble Lords may remember that my amendment referred merely to light pollution which was not wholly understood.

The key is that what we are talking about now is something relatively new. Just as 20 years ago relatively few of us spoke about the environment as such—or certainly not in the way we do now. Today relatively few people have taken on board the very undesirable effect which excessive light can have on the night sky and on the beauty of the countryside. It is for that reason that, as we have this excellent and important Bill in front of us, this seems the moment that this new, and what I believe will become an increasingly important dimension, should be included for the first time in statute. I am not saying that the noble Lord necessarily has the wording precisely right. But I hope that my noble friend will respond positively to it. Perhaps he will come back either before Third Reading or in the other place with some means of introducing what I am quite certain is going to be a significant factor in the coming years and decades.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: My Lords, I was the person who misunderstood the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, at the previous stage of the Bill. As I now understand the amendments, I am an enthusiastic supporter of them in their current form.

Lord Elton: My Lords, whether my noble friend accepts this amendment or not, I hope that he will take the opportunity to look at the growing problem of light pollution. There are steadily growing ribbons of horrible phosphorescent, orange light along our motorways. It was first at the junctions and now it is spreading out. I realise that there are safety factors involved, but there must be better ways of lighting our major roads than suddenly making them offensive not just for the one or two miles by daylight but for 15 or 20 miles if they are in a valley below downland and so forth. I hope that my noble friend will do that.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley: My Lords, we on these Benches certainly support the tone of these amendments and hope that the Minister will find some way of meeting the point involved.

6.45 p.m.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I risk being a spoilsport. Amendments Nos. 31, 39, 41 and 44 in the

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name of the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, seek to ensure that the agency's conservation and recreation duties under Clauses 6 and 7 are to apply both to day and to night. I think I understand the concerns prompting these amendments, reiterated by many noble Lords, but I am not convinced that they are necessary. Amendment No. 31 in particular is extremely wide and would have among its effects a duty on the agency to promote the amenity by night of coastal and inland waters and associated land.

The agency's duty under Clause 6(1) (a), and the agency's and Ministers' duties under Clause 7(1) (a), (b) and (c) (ii) are not time limited: in other words, they do not cease to have these duties in the hours of darkness. This is not spelt out on the face of the Bill simply because it does not need to be. However, I suspect that the noble Lord's concern is perhaps a little more specific.

The noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, spoke in the discussion at Committee stage on the amendment of my noble friend Lord Marlesford on what has been described as light pollution and his concern to maintain the rural countryside by night as well as by day. Should the noble Lord's intention be to bring increased controls to bear in respect of light pollution, I can assure him that the Government have for some time been aware of the potential problems which can be caused by the inappropriate design and use of some lighting schemes.

We believe that the most appropriate way to tackle these problems is by education and guidance: for example, DoE Circular 5/94, Planning Out Crime, sets out the planning aspects of security lighting.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Moran, that at night, with low light levels, the driver's visibility is reduced, resulting in a disproportionately high number of accidents when compared to daytime accident numbers. Road lighting is provided to improve visibility and therefore to reduce the number of night-time accidents. Research indicates an effective reduction in the number of accidents of up to 30 per cent. with the provision of road lighting. These are important statistics. We should regard those factors as being on one side of the balance when we are concerned about the environmental side of light pollution.

The Department of Transport's booklet, Road Lighting and the Environment, published in 1993, shows how well-designed street lighting can achieve its main objective of road safety with minimum environmental impact. I can assure noble Lords that we shall look for appropriate opportunities to press home the importance of the sensitive location and use of lighting and will continue to keep under review whether other measures might usefully be taken to minimise its excessive use.

I would reiterate, however, that the agency's duties already apply so as to have effect both by night and during the day, and that these amendments would not add anything to the Bill which is not already implicit in it. I therefore hope that the noble Lord will see fit to withdraw his amendments.


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