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Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his letter explaining the amendments that the Commons are inviting us to consider. That was most helpful of him and I am grateful.

I understand that Commons Amendment No. 2 is necessary to legitimise something that has been going on completely illegitimately and that in certain instances we are validating what is factually a criminal offence. So be it. That is necessary.

I would welcome the Minister's assurance in respect of one matter of concern. When local authorities and county councils were waste regulatory authorities, they used two methods to control, regulate, direct and manage waste disposal. One was the site licence, which dealt with all the environmental matters and quality control. The other was planning permission. The planning permission was the primary control matter and, if you were going to operate a valid planning permission, you had to have a site licence. But, as a matter of practice, if you had a valid site licence and you applied for an extension of planning permission, then, provided the site licence was valid and other things

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could be managed properly and it would not cause too much difficulty, the licence could be called in aid of an application to extend a planning permission.

This is a situation which we now face and one which we may face for all time because, if I read the amendment correctly, whatever expiry date applies to the site licence--that is, whether or not it expires post the coming into force of the Act--it will be deemed, if you like, to continue. Perhaps the Minister will be able to reassure me.

There is another point upon which I require assurance. I shall give the Minister my reasons. Perhaps we may once again consider my own county, which disposes of huge quantities of London's waste. For many years it has had a policy of trying to diminish, if not absolutely eliminate, the importation of waste into the county. That is a completely understandable policy even if, in relation to London, one has to continue to accept some of its waste for practical reasons.

Many of the existing planning permissions in Essex which have run for many years are coming to the end of their days. I would welcome an assurance from the Minister that nothing in the amendments will endanger the achievement of that policy by my former county council. As I say, it may well be that Essex will have to continue to take some waste from London for practical reasons. However, it is not an unreasonable policy for a county in that situation to wish to diminish the practice. Moreover, it seems to me that it is not unreasonable that we in this House should ensure that nothing we do endangers the achievement of that gradual policy. I look forward to the Minister's response.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, perhaps I may first address the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton. As regards the side note in the margin of the amendment, I am not sure that the noble Lord is syntactically correct. I can see that there is a certain ambiguity there, but it means that there are two types of licence: a time-limited waste management licence and a time-limited disposal licence. Therefore, the inclusion of the word "or" is correct. If you wanted totally to clarify the matter, you could insert the word "licence" again, but the word "or" is correct.

As to the noble Lord's other point, I should point out that the new clause does not change the definition; it effectively decrees that certain aspects of the 1990 Act will be held to apply to those inadvertently expired licences and potentially expired licences. It does not actually change the definition. Therefore, I do not think that it would be appropriate to include it within a definitional clause. In a sense, it is a different issue.

I turn now to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. I believe we all recognise that this is not the tidiest of situations. Nevertheless, once we have dealt with the unexpired licences, there is nothing in the change of status of those licences that would affect the ability under planning permission rules of Essex--it is funny how often we debate the concerns of Essex in this Chamber--to alter the use of a site, or whatever. Therefore, it does not directly affect the position.

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Regrettably, the amendments are necessary and will put the situation back into a sensible position. I hope, therefore, that the House will be able to accept them.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

3

Clause 4, page 3, line 29, after ("consequential") insert ("and minor").

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3. In moving the amendment I shall, with the leave of the House, speak also to Commons Amendment No. 14.

The current regulatory regimes operate under the "polluter pays" principle. The regulator is obliged to recover from operators the full cost of operating the pollution control regimes. What the 1990 legislation does not enable is charges levied by one regulator to recover money spent by another. Under the new control systems, we are looking to achieve a greater degree of co-operation between regulators--in particular, between the Environment Agency and local authorities. This will include, for example, the Environment Agency now drafting certain guidance notes for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to issue to local authorities. At present, it would not be possible under the 1990 Act to recover the cost of that guidance. The Bill includes provisions to rectify that situation.

However, the provisions in the Bill will only take effect once local authority regulated processes are phased into the new regime. These amendments, therefore, are designed to enable recovery of the cost of producing the guidance during the transitional period between enactment of the Bill and the phase-in date.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 3.--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

Lord Renton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her attempted explanation. However, if we look at Amendment No. 14, which is grouped with Amendment No. 3, we find that it says:


    "The Environmental Protection Act 1990 has effect subject to the following amendments".

It then purports to amend Section 8(7) of the 1990 Act. However, if we turn to Schedule 3 to this Bill, we find that Sections 1 to 28 have been repealed. Therefore, how can we be amending Section 8? It seems to me to be the most extraordinary legislative attempt, and one which is not valid. We are attempting to amend something that the Bill says should be repealed. How can that be?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, my understanding is that the repeal has been included in the schedule so as to enable the reproduction of the provisions in regulations at the appropriate stage.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, it seems to me that we are in a slight procedural hiatus. I entirely understand that part of the 1990 is being repealed in order to permit

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its, if you like, reincarnation in the form of regulations. But, unfortunately, this particular amendment does not refer to the putative regulations; indeed, it refers to amending the Act. Therefore, I feel bound to support the point made by my noble friend. I am sure that the intention is that those provisions should be transposed into the regulations, but that it not actually what we have in front of us.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, the point here is that this is a transitional measure. The repeal of Sections 1 to 8 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 will not be commenced until the year 2007.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

7 p.m.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

4

Clause 5, page 4, line 5, leave out second ("section") and insert ("sections (Prevention etc. of pollution after accidents involving offshore installations) and").

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 4.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, amendment agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

5

Clause 5, page 4, line 20, leave out ("22(5) of the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Act 1982") and insert ("10(8) of the Petroleum Act 1998").

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 5.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

6

Clause 5, page 4, line 22, leave out subsection (10).

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6, which removes the standard provision inserted to avoid questions of privilege.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.--(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

7

Schedule 1, page 5, line 36, leave out ("otherwise than") and insert (", or otherwise carrying on any activities of any specified description, except").


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