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Lord Renton: I gladly and warmly support the amendment moved by my noble friend. However, there is one consequence which we should bear in mind. I hope that I am not just being a stuffy old lawyer when I make this point. But it is a rule of statutory interpretation that if one particular matter is expressed, other matters which might have been expressed are assumed to be excluded. The Romans expressed it much more succinctly and better. They said: expressio unius est exclusio alterius.

It arises in this way. The proposed subsection (1) of the amendment refers to,

that is, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. But surely the public bodies mentioned in the proposed subsection (3) should endeavour to conserve and enhance the natural beauty of any area in the countryside. The areas of outstanding natural beauty are an extremely limited part of our countryside. I admit that they are special and should be carefully conserved, but there are many other parts which equally need to be conserved and their beauty enhanced.

Although we should accept my noble friend's amendment, I believe that on Report we should add a new clause to follow it which would have the effect of saying that all areas within the countryside should also be conserved and have their natural beauty enhanced by the public bodies concerned.

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Lord Bridges: I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry. I believe that one of the main purposes of the Bill is to improve the planning, status and protection afforded to the areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Renton, that this part of the Bill is specific to the AONBs. This is a desperately needed improvement to the AONBs. They lack a status of protection, which they need. The point he makes is a general one, but I do not think that it fits the purpose of this clause.

The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will not be surprised to hear me speak in this way. In the past he has answered debates in which I have raised this question. It is perhaps pertinent to give an illustration of the kind of problem which arises. I live in the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB. There was a proposal to build a commercial airport on the site of a redundant American airbase. We knew this to be outside the terms of the Government's policy planning guidance. However, the planning authority chose not to follow such guidance--designed to give a degree of protection to the AONB--on the grounds that they felt that the economic development which would come in its train would override the importance of the AONB.

The purpose of my Unstarred Question was to invite the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to remind the planning authority--not personally but perhaps by a member of his department--of PPG7. The noble Lord did not answer the point in the debate. However, I discovered afterwards, which I long suspected, that it is the Government's intention not to interfere with the deliberations of the local authority unless they hear that it is minded to approve such an application. How that is discovered before the local authority makes up its mind I do not know. However, this whole situation will be avoided if the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, is included in the Bill. I hope that that will be possible.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: From these Benches we welcome the amendment and look forward to the full debate we shall have on Monday. We believe that the amendment rectifies what was almost an accident in 1949 when AONBs were not given any status and national parks were.

We thank the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, for the amount of work which he did in bringing forward his private Bill. That has enabled this legislation to come before us in a state which perhaps it might not have been in without his previous hard work. We look forward to debating this issue more fully on Monday.

Lord Whitty : The whole subject of AONBs will be debated more fully on Monday. However, I can register now that the Government have sympathy with the amendment. It is right that in carrying out their functions public bodies should have regard to the purposes for which AONBs have been designated. I do not necessarily endorse everything said by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges. However, I believe that he is probably right as regards the fact that the Bill deals

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with AONBs, and therefore the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, do not directly arise. However, we shall take advice on that before we come back on Report.

Although we have not included this provision so far in our amendments, we are prepared to consider its inclusion in the Bill and table an amendment on Report which will probably have the same effect as Amendment No. 453. It will probably be at the beginning of the AONB section of the Bill rather than here. I hope that with that explanation, the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, will accept that we shall return to the matter and will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

10.45 p.m.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for that support and for his assurance that he will come back with a government amendment on Report.

I noticed in passing that my amendment could not in fact stand exactly as it is. It refers to,

    "After section 87 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act".

But in an amendment at the end of the schedule, Section 87 of that Act is to be revoked. It is rather difficult therefore for an amendment to refer to a section in a previous Act which has disappeared. However, that is a technicality. Much more important is the Minister's comment that he will table an amendment on Report.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, and others for their support, and to my eponymous noble friend Lord Renton, I have to say that I expect him to seek clarity in the law and to properly correct me if I have not achieved it. I only make the point that AONBs now cover 15 per cent of the countryside and that justifies this clause referring only to AONBs. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 66 [Sites of special scientific interest]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 454:

    Page 41, line 38, at end insert--

("( ) A notification under section 23 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (notification to local planning authorities of areas of special scientific interest) which by virtue of section 28(13) of the 1981 Act as originally enacted had effect as if given under section 28(1)(a) of that Act, shall cease to have effect.").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 454 and 462 clear up an historical "hang over". The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 required the conservation agency to notify only the local planning authority if it considered that an area of land was of special interest. It was only with the advent of the 1981 Act that the conservation agency was obliged to serve this notification also on owners and occupiers of a site.

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Almost all the sites originally notified in England and Wales under the 1949 Act have since been notified using the 1981 Act procedures, so that the owners and occupiers are aware that a site is special. There are now few sites identified only through a 1949 Act notification. The agencies will re-examine those and, where they are of special scientific interest, will notify them under the new legislation as soon as possible. There is therefore no need for notifications given under the 1949 Act to be retained and these amendments clarify the position. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 455:

    Page 42, line 5, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Baroness said: I rise to move an important amendment which deals with the removal of powers for English Nature and the CCW to purchase land compulsorily outside SSSIs. Subsection (3) provides powers to enable English Nature and CCW to purchase compulsorily any land which could be the subject of a management agreement under Section 15 of the Countryside Act 1968. That includes any land within an SSSI and, as a consequence of Clause 66(2), any "other" land. Subsection (2) extends the current provisions which allow agreements to be made on land "adjacent" to SSSIs to any "other" land where this is for the purpose of conserving features of an SSSI. I suggest that two issues arise out of this provision.

First, the powers in subsection (3) appear to duplicate those in Schedule 8, new Section 28L, in so far as they provide powers for compulsory purchase of all of an SSSI or any part of an SSSI. Moreover, the tests applied in the two cases differ in their detail. That is confusing. How will English Nature and CCW decide which power to use in considering the compulsory purchase of land in an SSSI? Perhaps the Minister could justify that apparent duplication of powers, assuming it is intentional; it may not be.

Secondly, the powers of subsection (3) appear to give English Nature and CCW the power to approach the owner of any land which is of no scientific interest in itself (otherwise it would be designated an SSSI in its own right), to seek agreement with him for the purposes of protecting an SSSI elsewhere and, if agreement cannot be secured, to purchase his land compulsorily. It is questionable whether those drastic powers are really necessary. For those reasons subsection (3) should be deleted. I beg to move.

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