Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page



COMMONS AMENDMENTS
244Schedule 18, page 207, line 48, after 'occur' insert '(other than the last reference in subsection (2))'.
245Page 207, line 50, after 'application)' insert '(i)'.
246Page 208, line 2, after 'consent";' insert:
'(ii) for the word "three" there shall be substituted the word "four"; and
(iii) for the words "the authority shall be deemed to have refused the consent" there shall be substituted the words "the applicant may treat the consent applied for as having been refused";'.
247Page 208, line 15, leave out 'and'.
248Page 208, line 27, at end insert '; and
(c) in subsection (6), for the word "three" there shall be substituted the word "four".
( ) In section 37(1) (revocation of consents and alteration and imposition of conditions), for the words from the beginning to "consent" in the second place where it occurs there shall be substituted the words "SEPA may from time to time review any consent given in pursuance of section 34 of this Act".
( ) In section 38 (restriction as to variation and revocation of consent and of previous variation), in each of subsections (1) and (2), for the word "two" there shall be substituted the word "four".
( ) After section 38 there shall be inserted—

"General review of consents.

38A.—(1) If it appears appropriate to the Secretary of State to do so he may at any time direct SEPA to review—
(a) the consents given under section 34 of this Act; or
(b) any description of such consents,
and the conditions (if any) to which those consents are subject.
(2) A direction given by virtue of subsection (1) above—
(a) shall specify the purpose for which; and
(b) may specify the manner in which,
the review is to be conducted.
(3) After carrying out the review, SEPA shall submit to the Secretary of State its proposals (if any) for—
(a) the modification of the conditions of any consent reviewed pursuant to the direction; or
(b) in the case of any such consent which is unconditional, subjecting the consent to conditions.
(4) Where the Secretary of State has received any proposals under subsection (3) above in relation to any consent he may, if it appears appropriate to him to do so, direct SEPA, in relation to that consent—
(a) to make modifications of the conditions of the consent; or

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1631


(b) in the case of an unconditional consent, to subject the consent to conditions.
(5) A direction given by virtue of subsection (4) above may direct SEPA to do, in relation to any such consent, only—
(a) any such thing as SEPA has proposed should be done in relation to that consent; or
(b) any such thing with such modifications as appear to the Secretary of State to be appropriate.".'.
249Page 208, line 28, after 'State)' insert:
'( ) in subsection (1), in each of paragraphs (b) and (c), for the words "the preceding section" there shall be substituted the words "section 38 of this Act";
(a) in subsection (5), for the words "terms and period as are" there shall be substituted the words "period as is";
(b) after that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsections—
"(5A) Subject to subsection (5B) below, where a question is referred to the Secretary of State in pursuance of subsection (1) (b) above, the revocation of the consent or, as the case may be, the modification of the conditions of the consent or the provision that the consent (having been unconditional) shall be subject to conditions, shall not take effect while the reference is pending.
(5B) Subsection (5A) above shall not apply to a reference where the notice effecting the revocation, modification or provision in question includes a statement that in the opinion of SEPA it is necessary for the purpose of preventing or, where that is not practicable, minimising—
(a) the entry into controlled waters of any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter or any solid waste matter, or
(b) harm to human health,
that that subsection should not apply.
(5C) Where the reference falls within subsection (5B) above, if, on the application of the holder or former holder of the consent, the Secretary of State (or other person determining the question referred) determines that SEPA acted unreasonably in excluding the application of subsection (5A) above, then—
(a) if the reference is still pending at the end of the day on which that determination is made, subsection (5A) above shall apply to the reference from the end of that day; and
(b) the holder or former holder of the consent shall be entitled to recover compensation from SEPA in respect of any loss suffered by him in consequence of the exclusion of the application of that subsection;
and any dispute as to a person's entitlement to such compensation or as to the amount of it shall be determined by a single arbiter appointed, in default of agreement between the parties concerned, by the Secretary of State on the application of any of the parties."; and
(c)''. .
250 Page 208, line 31, at end insert:
'(8) In this section "the holder", in relation to a consent, is the person who has the consent.".'.

The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 244 to 250 en bloc. At the same time I shall speak also to Commons Amendments Nos. 254, 282, 295, 296, 297 and 337, as well as to Amendments Nos. 295A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 295, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee.

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1632

Amendments Nos. 248, 295, 297 and 337 introduce powers for the Secretary of State to direct the NRA and, in future, the agency, and for the Secretary of State for Scotland to direct SEPA, to undertake reviews of particular descriptions of consents for the purpose of making proposals to us for modifications to those consents.

Having considered those proposals, the Secretary of State could then give them effect through a direction; in other words, modification of a number of consents could be achieved by direction. We consider that these powers offer a useful means for the Secretary of State to deal more expeditiously with changes to consents where an issue of general policy arises that affects a number of consents. In our view that would offer substantial advantages in terms of facilitating any changes that might be required to consents where an issue of general policy has been shown to arise. I know that the NRA has also said that it welcomes the introduction of such a power. I should, however, also make clear that we envisage that exercise of this power would not be frequent and that modifications to individual consents would continue to be dealt with on a bilateral basis between the discharger and the regulator.

I want now to say something about our intentions in using these powers of direction. There are, of course, two powers: one to require the NRA to undertake a review of consents and then to come forward with proposals for modifications; the second to implement any changes to consents that may have been proposed.

As regards the first direction, we have previously demonstrated our acceptance in principle of the development of general clauses to be included in consents. However, experience has also shown that such conditions need very careful consideration. We need to discuss a number of issues with the NRA but, subject to those discussions, our intention would be to make use of the power to issue a direction. We intend that the powers in Amendment No. 295 should be commenced two months after Royal Assent.

As regards the second direction—to implement any proposals made by the NRA—we cannot, of course, be expected to prejudge the outcome of such a review. We shall need, among other things, to hear the views of dischargers. And as I indicated, the Secretary of State must retain the right to modify the proposals that are brought forward.

Amendment No. 296 has a simple purpose. It is intended to ensure that in future, as under the existing legislation, the requirement for advertising of an application for a discharge consent can be waived if the agency considers such advertising to be unnecessary in the case of a particular application.

Amendments Nos. 282 and 249 provide a refinement of the deregulatory measures already in the Bill affecting discharge consent appeals. As originally drafted, the Bill provided that where an agency decides to revoke a consent, the revocation should not take effect until any appeal has been determined. It did not make the same provision for cases where an agency decides to modify a consent or impose conditions on a

11 Jul 1995 : Column 1633

previously unconditional consent. On further consideration, however, we concluded that that was not the correct approach.

These amendments therefore bring decisions by the agencies to modify a discharge consent and to impose conditions on a previously unconditional consent into line with revocations so that the effect of such decisions will also be suspended pending determination or withdrawal of an appeal. We recognised, however, that there will be situations where it is necessary for revocations, modifications and conditions to come into force immediately. The amendments therefore allow the agencies to require the discharger to comply immediately with the effect of a decision where they consider this to be necessary to prevent or minimise pollution of controlled waters or harm to human health. We consider that these amendments offer a sensible way forward, providing a balance between the interests of dischargers and the need for changes to have immediate effect where there is a pressing environmental or health requirement for them to do so.

Amendments Nos. 244 to 247 and 250 amend the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and are designed to increase the operational flexibility of the water pollution control regime in Scotland. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 244 to 250.—(The Earl of Lindsay.)


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page