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Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 444A:



(" .--(1) Section 33 of that Act is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1), for "or bridleway" there is substituted ", bridleway or restricted byway".
(3) In subsection (4), for "or bridleway" there is substituted ", bridleway or restricted byway".
(4) After subsection (5) there is inserted--
"(6) In this section "restricted byway" has the same meaning as in Part II of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.".").

The noble Baroness said: On Monday, we were discussing the whole question of bridleways and restricted byways. We acknowledged that there are those who gain but there are also those who lose. I look across to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, because his amendment follows and this amendment obviously has some bearing on it.

Some of the losers are likely to be those who enjoy watching or participating in motor vehicle trials, for example, in the countryside. This amendment would mean that those activities, if approved by the local authority, would be permissible. My understanding is that as the Bill is currently drafted, that would not be so. I seek clarification on this matter. It should be possible to seek authority to organise and arrange such motor trials. Unless the Bill is amended, it will no longer be possible to do so. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: I think I understand the argument that the provisions of Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act should apply to restricted byways in the same way as they apply to footpaths and bridleways. But there are other provisions in the 1988 Act which it could be argued may also apply.

For that reason, we have the power in Clause 48 for the Secretary of State to make regulations applying or not applying provisions in legislation to restricted byways. We have made one or two exceptions by, for example, expressly applying Section 34 of the 1988 Act. However, generally we believe it to be more sensible to take decisions on which legislation should apply and which should not to the detailed regulations. The regulations will be subject to the affirmative procedure so that Parliament will have an opportunity to debate them.

Whatever the individual merits of the amendment, if we begin now to pick out further provisions to be applied, there is a risk of bouncing us into taking decisions on all the other provisions under these powers. It would be better, therefore, if we left discussion as to which provisions should apply until we come to the regulations rather than trying to resolve all those issues on the face of the Bill. I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue her amendment.

Baroness Byford: I am grateful to the Minister. I think he will understand why there has been concern among those who wish to participate in authorised and

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approved trials as opposed to the ones which we are likely to debate shortly. I have listened to what the Minister said and am happy to leave the matter until a later stage when we consider regulations. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 445:


    Page 89, line 30, at end insert--


("(1A) For the purposes of this section a person shall only be deemed to have lawful authority if in carrying out the activity described in subsection (1) he has due regard to nature conservation.
(1B) For the purposes of subsection (1A) the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales shall issue guidance about the nature conservation matters to which regard should be had.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 445, for the convenience of the Committee I shall speak also to Amendment No. 446. We come to the question of lawful authority and how that is to be defined. I take the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Peel, in a previous debate, that it is difficult to distinguish between owners of common land and owners of enclosed land. I believe that lawful authority, in this circumstance, is shared between owners of common land and owners of enclosed land.

As I stated recently, I can only speak to the situation in Wales. As regards common land, the National Assembly for Wales, in its informal interpretation of "lawful authority" states:


    "The securing of all necessary consents, including the agreement of all parties with legal rights over the land. In the case of Common Land, this would include the agreements of the owner, any commoners, tenants, licensees or owners of any easements over the land".

The National Assembly for Wales does not define "legal authority" or "lawful authority" in the case of enclosed land. However, that probably follows from its informal interpretation.

I now learn, by hearsay, that in future, lawful authority will be defined by the National Assembly for Wales as "the consent of the owner" rather than, "the consent of the owner in the case of common land, plus graziers and others who have any rights".

It is certainly true that events--by "events" I mean motorcycle or four-by-four events--which go across or along rights of way under the Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 require the approval of the local authority in question. Events where vehicles will drive on common land or moorland beyond 15 yards of a public highway require the approval of a local authority. What is in question is whether the lawful authority is to be defined as simply the approval of the owner of the land or whether the local authority has any status in this discussion.

As a background to this I would say that in mid-Wales there is a serious problem in relation to events taking place in the uplands on what appear to be an unauthorised basis by motorcycles and four-by-fours--I am sure the Committee recognise that description. On Gilwern Hill, not far from my home, four-by-fours were given authorisation by the owner

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of the common to stage such an event. They did not cross a right of way and were perfectly entitled to do so. But they churned up the whole of Gilwern Hill and it will take around 30 years for that hill to return to its original state, if it ever does.

My amendment seeks to persuade the Government to define "lawful authority" in terms of nature conservation. I believe the purpose of the Bill is to promote nature conservation. I believe also that the common land in Wales, and I suspect in England as well, is a major and profitable habitat for wildlife. Nothing destroys such habitat more quickly than motorcycles and four-by-fours running across it. We have a common above my home in Wales which became the site for motorcycle trials. We no longer find curlews, lapwings and skylarks on that land. All ground nesting birds on that common have been destroyed by the vehicle movement across it.

I simply ask my noble friend to accept that anybody who has the right to grant permission for such events to take place should have regard to nature conservation. That must be part of the Government's intention in the Bill. In that regard, in my Amendment No. 445, new subsection 1(B) provides that the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales will give advice on what nature conservation really means.

I understand that those events cannot be regulated by the police. But it is a problem when the police are not notified that they are to take place. Therefore Amendment No. 446 seeks to require the police to be informed if such an event is to take place. If that does not happen; if there is no serious restraint on "lawful authority"; and if the National Assembly of Wales simply says that the owners of the common or, as the noble Earl, Lord Peel, said, of enclosed land can, themselves, say that it will happen, then the Government are losing a trick. Nature conservation in the Welsh uplands, and I am sure on many commons in England, should be the imperative. I beg to move.

Earl Peel: I begin by saying that I have a great deal of sympathy for what the noble Lord, Lord Williams, says. But perhaps I can correct him on one point. When he described his problems in Wales he implied that land was clearly defined between common land as being open land and in-by land being enclosed land. But of course we must not lose sight of the fact that a lot of open land is also non-common land.

I sympathise with what the noble Lord says but we must remember that in some parts of the world--it applies in my part of the world--there are organised trials whose routes are carefully predetermined. The clubs involved in the trials are extremely sympathetic to all the requests made by the landowner. The local authorities usually know about them and no damage whatever is done. They do not occur often--perhaps once or twice a year--but they give an enormous amount of pleasure to the members of the clubs.

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Lord Williams of Elvel: Do the events which take place in the noble Earl's part of the world and which are approved by authorities have regard to nature conservation and wildlife habitats?

Earl Peel: I can answer that question simply. Much of the Scott trial, which takes place in my part of the world, takes place on SSSIs. Therefore, English Nature would be the first organisation to come forward if it thought that any damage whatever was being done to the SSSI.


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