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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Or much worse!

The Earl of Caithness: I hope that on this occasion the Minister will just be able to say, yes. I know that the noble Lord has beside his bed Section 31 of the Land Compensation Act 1961, in particular the section on withdrawal of notices to treat. It is common justice and an established principle that, where a statutory body serves a notice and commences proceedings and then withdraws, compensation should be available. That is the purport of the amendment. I beg to move.

12.15 a.m.

Lord Whitty: Despite the indication of my noble friend Lord McIntosh of our generosity, I do not think that this is standard practice. My understanding of what occurs in planning procedures, which is a parallel situation, is that there would be no reimbursement of costs in connection with making representations or opposing notifications. The costs of an application or of objecting to a planning application are not paid. Possibly we are at cross-purposes.

In terms of land management, there was an argument about the costs which might apply in relation to making substantive changes to the SSSI. But in terms of making applications, I do not think that is standard practice. In this context management schemes, although a new statutory provision, are in essence confirmation of existing management statements on conservation. So I do not think that a new situation arises. There is currently no provision for reimbursement and there is no case for providing any in the future. I hope the noble Lord will not pursue the amendment.

The Earl of Caithness: There are precedents. Certainly the Land Compensation Act is one. I will seek further advice and return to this at a later stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

11 Oct 2000 : Column 486

Lord Whitty moved Amendments Nos. 464 and 465:


    Page 92, line 23, at end insert--


("Notification of additional land.
28AA.--(1) Where the Nature Conservancy Council are of the opinion that if land adjacent to a site of special scientific interest ("the extra land") were combined with the site of special scientific interest ("the SSSI"), the combined area of land would be of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features, the Council may decide to notify that fact.
(2) If they do so decide, the persons whom they must notify are--
(a) the local planning authority in whose area the extra land is situated;
(b) every owner and occupier of any of that extra land; and
(c) the Secretary of State.
(3) No such notification may be given until after notice has been given under section 28(5)(b) confirming (with or without modifications) the notification under section 28(1) relating to the SSSI.
(4) Subsections (2) and (3) of section 28 shall apply for the purposes of this section as they apply for the purposes of that section.
(5) A notification under subsection (2)(b) shall also specify--
(a) the area of land constituting the SSSI;
(b) what (as at the date of the notification under subsection (2)(b)) is specified or contained in the section 28(1)(b) notification relating to the SSSI by virtue of section 28(4); and
(c) the reasons why the Council is of the opinion referred to in subsection (1).
(6) In addition, the notification under subsection (2)(b) shall include a statement--
(a) saying whether or not anything among the matters specified in the notification by virtue of subsection (5)(c) is particularly relevant to the extra land; and
(b) if any such thing is of particular relevance, specifying which.
(7) Subsections (5) to (7) of section 28 apply in relation to a notification under subsection (2) of this section as they apply in relation to a notification under subsection (1) of that section, as if references to "subsection (1)" in section 28(5) to (7) were references to subsection (2) of this section.
(8) As from the time when a notification under subsection (2)(b) is served on the owner or occupier of any land, the notification under section 28(1)(b) shall have effect as if it included the notification under subsection (2)(b).
(9) As from the time when there is served on the owner or occupier of any land which has been notified under subsection (2)(b) a notice under section 28(5)(b) (as applied by subsection (7) of this section) confirming the notification under subsection (2)(b) with modifications, the notification under section 28(1)(b) (as extended by virtue of subsection (8) of this section) shall have effect in its modified form.
(10) A local land charge existing by virtue of section 28(9) shall be varied in accordance with a notification under subsection (2) or under section 28(5)(b) as applied by subsection (7) of this section.").
Page 92, line 23, at end insert--
("Enlargement of SSSI.
28AB.--(1) Where the Nature Conservancy Council are of the opinion that any area of land which includes, but also extends beyond, a site of special scientific interest ("the SSSI") is of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features, the Council may decide to notify that fact.

11 Oct 2000 : Column 487


(2) If they do so decide, the persons whom they must notify are--
(a) the local planning authority in whose area the land (including the SSSI) is situated;
(b) every owner and occupier of any of that land (including the SSSI); and
(c) the Secretary of State.
(3) Subsections (2) to (8) of section 28 apply to a notification under subsection (2) of this section as they apply to a notification under subsection (1) of that section, as if references to "subsection (1)" and "subsection (1)(b)" in section 28(2) to (8) were references to subsection (2) and subsection (2)(b) of this section respectively.
(4) No notification may be given under subsection (2) until after notice has been given under section 28(5)(b) (or section 28(5)(b) as applied by subsection (3)) confirming (with or without modifications) the notification under section 28(1) (or subsection (2)) relating to the SSSI.
(5) As from the time when a notification under subsection (2) is served on the owner or occupier of any land included in the SSSI, the notification in relation to that land which had effect immediately before the service of the notification under subsection (2) shall cease to have effect.
(6) A notification under subsection (2)(b) of land in England and Wales shall be a local land charge; and, to the extent that any such land was the subject of a local land charge by virtue of section 28(9), that local land charge shall be discharged.
(7) A notice under section 28C(1)(a) and a consent under section 28C(3)(a) given before a notification under subsection (2)(b) continue to have effect.
(8) The enlargement of a site of special scientific interest under this section does not affect anything done under section 28H to 28J.
(9) Any reference to--
(a) a notification under section 28(1) (or any of its paragraphs) shall be construed as including the corresponding notification under subsection (2);
(b) a notification under section 28(5)(b) shall be construed as including a notification under that provision as applied by subsection (3); and
(c) a local land charge existing by virtue of section 28(9) shall be treated as including one existing by virtue of subsection (6).").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 466 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 467:


    Page 93, line 36, at end insert--


("(d) that the operation has been carried out in accordance with the terms of an agreement with a section 28E authority which has acted in accordance with section 28G").

The noble Baroness said: This amendment relates to agreements with bodies other than English Nature and CCW. I beg to move.

Baroness Wilcox: I wish to speak to Amendment No. 497B. The amendment overcomes a shortcoming in the Bill that may have the effect of denying foreshore fishermen their livelihood. New Section 28M(6) of the Bill makes it an offence for a third party to damage, destroy or disturb the features of an SSSI. That fills a loophole in the current legislation. Unfortunately, the Bill makes any damage, destruction or disturbance an offence and does not take account of the magnitude of harm or the legitimacy of the activity causing it. As it reads, it will have the effect of making legitimate activities illegal.

11 Oct 2000 : Column 488

Fishermen have gathered cockles and mussels from our shores for generations and continue to do so within many SSSIs. However, the effect of new Section 28M(6) would be to make their activities illegal--perhaps they disturb the oyster catchers or because the cockles and mussels they are gathering are features of the SSSI. For example, the largest mussel bed in Morecambe Bay lies within the South Walney and Piel Channel Flats SSSI, and mussels are listed by English Nature as a feature of that site. In its present form the Bill would make the removal of any mussels from this SSSI an offence.

I would submit that the Bill is not intended to make legitimate activities illegal; rather it is intended to protect SSSIs from harm. The amendment I have proposed would not weaken SSSI protection but would give nature conservation agencies and other statutory bodies the option of managing third party activities so that they can take place without causing undue harm to the SSSI. I hope that the Government will be able to accept the amendment.


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