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Lord Jopling: Before the Minister sits down, perhaps he will explain in a little more detail what is meant on the face of the Bill by "aerodrome". We all understand what is meant when one is talking about a military airfield as we do in relation to a civil aviation airfield for use by chartered or scheduled flights.

But when the Minister was dealing with that matter in his remarks, my mind went to an example of a place I know well which is the Yorkshire Gliding Club which is situated, and has been to my certain knowledge for 60 or 70 years, on the top of Sutton Bank between Thirsk and Helmsley. A great deal of gliding takes place there. If one drives up the road at Sutton Bank, quite often one can see eight or 10 gliders in the sky. They are towed off by a light, single-engined aircraft which, as far as I know, is kept on the site. A public footpath goes round the edge of the place where the gliders and aircraft take off.

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I suspect that under the terms of the Bill that land would be open for public access. I wonder whether the Minister could explain in detail what is meant by "aerodrome". Does it include any place which is used particularly for gliding where maybe only one aircraft is permanently based, or even sometimes temporarily based, that comes in and tows gliders off and where gliders are landing and taking off in large numbers, particularly at weekends? It really would be crazy if people were allowed to roam over such a place. I realise that the Minister may not be able to give me a precise answer now. However, I believe the point is worth considering. A site such as that on the top of Sutton Bank should come within the definition of an aerodrome, and I believe we should ensure that it does.

Lord Rotherwick: Can the Minister clarify whether that would include farm strips? There are a number where planes take off. What does the Minister understand by the definition of an unlicensed aerodrome, such as an airstrip or a glider site? Would it just be the runway or would it be further out at either end of the runway, in other words, 50 yards either side? How close could people come? These questions may seem to be unimportant. However, if somebody was flying a kite or came too close, they could well be injured or cause an accident.

Lord Jopling: Following my noble friend's comments, perhaps I may add that the gliding site to which I referred has no runway. The aircraft and the gliders take off and land on grass.

Lord Whitty: The term "aerodrome" is widely used in civil aviation legislation. The normal definition is in the 1982 Act. I shall refer to farm sites in a moment, but all issues which the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, raised, would be covered by it. It refers to any area of land or water designed, equipped, set apart or commonly used to afford facilities for the landing and departure of aircraft and includes any area or space designed, equipped or set apart to afford facilities for the landing and departure of aircraft.

Before the noble Lord inquires what is meant by an aircraft, that is helpfully covered, as he may know, in the Air Force Act 1955. It covers all machines for flying, whether by mechanical means or not, which must include gliders. It also includes balloons. I believe that any space which gets you in the air and down again is covered by the exception of aerodromes. I suspect that farm sites would be excluded anyway as part of the enclosed farmland. It may be that the odd individual helicopter pad which is used once every year at Christmas might not fall within that definition. However, I suspect that that is in somebody's garden or park and therefore would be excluded that way. I do not believe that this is a serious problem in so far as it is not already provided for in the Bill.

Earl Peel : The Minister has already given me his comments on Amendment No. 51 tabled in my name, so I shall not move that amendment. Perhaps I may return to a comment made by the Minister when he

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summarised the list of amendments. He said that the one thing they had in common was that they were designed to restrict more access. That implied to me that that was the sole reason why the amendments were tabled. That simply is not the case.

The Minister's response to Amendment No. 41 and the question of security was almost cavalier. But this is an extremely serious problem. As the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, pointed out, some people's houses will back on to the access areas. They will feel threatened and feel that their lives are being undermined by this legislation.

I accept that Amendment No. 34 is not necessarily the right way to deal with the problem, but I hope that the Government will look at this whole question more seriously. I have no doubt that my noble friend will withdraw his amendment, but I hope that we can come back to this matter at a later stage. The whole question of security is extremely important and the Government have not considered it to be so in any way, shape or form.

11.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: I do not say that it was the sole motivation for introducing these amendments. But all these amendments have the same effect and, taken in combination, they would provide a substantial restriction on the right of access. Therefore in part I question the motivation for the tabling of some of them.

I indicated specifically in relation to Amendment No. 34 that anxieties exist in relation to security and possible criminal damage from the extension of access in areas close to buildings and particularly in relation to dwellings. But we must be sensible about this. The 50-metre exclusion zone advocated by the noble Earl will give people no more comfort than that already provided in the Act in relation to curtilege, gardens and parks, all of which are already excluded.

Also, we must recognise that almost everybody lives within 50 metres of a right of way, usually a pavement, both in isolated and urban areas, where I suspect the likelihood of criminal attack is higher than in the country areas. We should not make too much of this. Nevertheless, I accept that anxiety exists. I believe that the provisions of the Bill already address some of that anxiety. So let us not exaggerate it and say that it justifies a serious incursion into the right of access that the Bill will provide.

Earl Peel: What concerns me, and this point has been touched on on numerous occasions, is that the Government are saying that they perceive that there may be a problem, but that they will leave it up to the Countryside Agency to interpret it. That is not good enough. I hope that the Government will give us a firm commitment as to how they will deal with the problem. Simply leaving it up to their agency is not the right way forward.

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Lord Glentoran: I do not accept most of what the Minister said. This group of amendments would not lead to a serious reduction in access in the total scale of things. The reasons behind the tabling of the amendments were serious and sensible. To have old or active cemeteries as access land is crazy. The amendments will not provide a serious incursion into the access situation by seeking to protect sports fields and sports grounds on a large scale. The various other parts of the amendments involve people's safety or, on occasion, give advice to the Government on perhaps a legally better way of wording the schedule. I assure the Minister that the amendments are serious. If we took the land covered by them as a percentage of the total land to which access would become available, it would not be a serious restriction.

However, one or two points are particularly serious; that is, the points relating to the glider, the helicopter and the aeroplane situation and to people's privacy. Amendment No. 41 addresses an extremely serious issue. Many people throughout the country who live in remote places will feel seriously vulnerable, particularly where their home suddenly becomes a right of way. I believe that if the Minister's garden, a peaceful corner which he had had for many years, were made into a right of way, or something close to it, he would be unhappy. I shall return to the privacy and security of country people's cottages and houses at the next stage.

I ask the Government to take the amendments seriously and to come forward with better suggestions. I shall wait until Report stage, because we take seriously the privacy issue dealt with in Amendment No. 41. I hope that in his turn the Minister will be good enough to take me seriously and will come forward with an amendment at Report stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 36:


    Page 48, line 5, at end insert--


(". Land in Wales known as coed cae or ffryd land.").

The noble Baroness said: I hope that the next set of amendments I propose will not fall into the category of those which the Government believe to be unnecessary. If they do, it only reinforces what the general public are beginning to believe about the Government; that they do not understand the countryside and nor do they want to. Therefore, although the hour is late, I hope that the Minister will take them seriously.

Amendment No. 36 refers to land in Wales known as coed cae or ffryd land. I hope that my pronunciation is near the mark. Last weekend I was speaking in the furthest corner of West Wales, five miles from Fishguard, so I should have had a chance to practice. The amendment was raised at Second Reading in another place (col. 783) by Richard Livsey, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire. In parts of Wales, there is land between open hills and the enclosed land which in South Wales is known as coed cae and in North Wales as ffryd land.

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Try saying it twice--that really is a risk! Usually lambs are put there in the spring before going up on the hills. Following representation by commoners, the designation of the pilot map in the upper Swansea valley was amended to exclude that land. That land should be excepted.

Amendment No. 38 relates to a serious aspect of farming land; that which is subject to the set-aside scheme. I am sure that the Minister will have been briefed that land can be set aside for more than one year, which is relevant here.

Amendment No. 49 provides that,


    "Grassland which at any time is subjected to the normal processes of husbandry",

should also be excepted. That is important for the same reason. As regards farmers and land managers, grassland is not used only for grazing animals but hay and silage is taken from it. Therefore, it is an important part of the process.

Amendment No. 50 proposes the removal of the time limit of "twelve months" and the insertion of "five years". The reason for that is that "cultivated land" should be broadened to exceed the current limitation of 12 months. The Government have amended the original Bill to seek to define the term "cultivated land", for which we are grateful. The result is a definition which excepts only land that has been cultivated within the previous 12 months. But as Members sitting behind me and, I suspect, on Benches opposite will know, cultivated land rotates, which is why we propose five years.

However, intensely managed grassland which is improved or semi-improved by being cultivated and re-seeded on a regular basis every few years, but not necessarily every year, would not be excepted land as a result of this definition. Many livestock systems are subject to three or even five-year leys. Newly-sown grass crops do not generally reach peak yields until the third year. The Government must provide clear assurances that any improved grassland, whether in improved permanent pasture or short-term leys, will not be mapped as access land. To extend the definition of cultivated land to include longer leys managed over rotations of up to five years will assist, and this amendment aims to achieve that.

In their original consultation paper the Government stated that the new right would not extend to land used for agriculture other than extensive grazing. However, there is no mention of livestock in relation to any types of land affected by the Bill or excepted from it under Schedule 1. The Government appear to have ignored the precedent of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 under which excepted land includes agricultural land other than such land which is agricultural land by reason only that it affords rough grazing for livestock. Will the Government consider building that helpful precedent into the current Bill? I beg to move.

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