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Baroness Byford: Is the Minister saying that the Government's intention is not to include parish councils?

Lord Whitty: Parish councils would not be statutorily involved. However, they would normally be covered in the wider ability to make representations. I believe that is the correct balance.

Lord Roberts of Conwy: In Wales we do not have parish councils; we have community councils. In fact, there is no reference to them at all in this clause. Does that mean that the National Assembly does not have to take community councils into account as parish councils have to be taken into account in England? If the Minister cannot answer me now, perhaps he will respond later.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My understanding is that community councils are regarded as the equivalent of parish councils and therefore the same situation would apply.

A number of other amendments were spoken to with Amendment No. 523A. I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, completed his introduction on Amendment No. 523AA. If so, he did not convince me that it adds anything substantial to what the Government propose.

Lord Dixon-Smith: With the greatest respect, the intention was not to add but to take away--and leave the same level of clarity, of course.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Strabolgi): If Amendment No. 523AA is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 523B on grounds of pre-emption.

Lord Whitty: They do appear to be alternatives. Amendment No. 523B seeks to change "thinks expedient" to,

That does not meet the point. Consultation does not apply in Wales. The Secretary of State confirms an order. So the cross-reference to that paragraph would not meet the point.

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In relation to Amendment No. 523AA, which seeks to subtract from the existing provisions, I am not convinced of that either. I feel that the present situation probably reaches the correct balance.

Further amendments, certainly Amendments Nos. 523C and 523D, relate to wider consultation. Clearly landowners and others who are affected have the right to make representations. But to require the public authority to notify every landowner within the area likely to be directly or indirectly affected seems onerous and is unlikely to be feasible in many cases. Therefore the right to make representations remains.

Amendment No. 523E would remove the possibility of a designation order, once made, ever being varied or revoked. I am not sure if that is what the noble Baroness intended. It appears rather restrictive and I would not be in favour of it. Clearly, changes in land use and other developments may lead to it being necessary to change an order.

Amendment No. 523F simply changes the definition of where the orders could be inspected and would have the effect of cutting down the number of such places. Again, I am not sure that that was the intention but it would be the outcome. I am not convinced therefore that it would improve the situation and I hope that the noble Baroness will not pursue it.

Baroness Byford: I thank the Minister for his response. Amendment No. 523F relates to the specific place where the public would be able to inspect the orders, and the planning authority appeared to be the logical choice. I beg leave to withdraw Amendment No. 523A.

Amendment No. 523A, as an amendment to Amendment No. 523, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 523AA to 523F, as amendments to Amendment No. 523, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 523 agreed to.

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 524:

    After Clause 71, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The following provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 (in this Part referred to as "the 1949 Act")--
(a) section 6(4)(e) (duty of Agency or Council to give advice in connection with development matters),
(b) section 9 (consultation in connection with development plan),
(c) section 64(5) (consultation in connection with access agreements), and
(d) section 65(5) and (5A) (consultation in connection with access orders),
apply in relation to areas of outstanding natural beauty as they apply in relation to National Parks.
(2) In section 6(4)(e) of the 1949 Act as it applies by virtue of subsection (1), "appropriate planning authority" means a local planning authority whose area consists of or includes the whole or any part of an area of outstanding natural beauty and includes a local authority, not being a local planning authority, by whom any

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powers of a local planning authority as respects an area of outstanding natural beauty are exercisable, whether under the 1949 Act or otherwise.
(3) Section 4A of the 1949 Act (which confers on the Council functions under Part II of that Act corresponding to those exercisable as respects England by the Agency) applies to the provisions mentioned in subsection (1)(a) and (b) for the purposes of their application to areas of outstanding natural beauty as that section applies for the purposes of Part II of the 1949 Act.
(4) A local planning authority whose area consists of or includes the whole or any part of an area of outstanding natural beauty has power, subject to subsections (5) and (6), to take all such action as appears to them expedient for the accomplishment of the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the area of outstanding natural beauty or so much of it as is included in their area.
(5) Nothing in this Part is to be taken to limit the generality of subsection (4); but in so far as the provisions of this Part or of the 1949 Act confer specific powers falling within that subsection those powers are to be exercised in accordance with those provisions and subject to any limitations expressed or implied in them.
(6) Without prejudice to the powers conferred by this Part, subsection (4) has effect only for the purpose of removing any limitation imposed by law on the capacity of a local planning authority by virtue of its constitution, and does not authorise any act or omission on the part of such an authority which apart from that subsection would be actionable at the suit of any person on any ground other than such a limitation.
(7) In this section "local planning authority" has the same meaning as in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 524.

Baroness Byford moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 524, Amendment No. 524A:

    Line 26, leave out subsection (4).

The noble Baroness said: We suggest that subsection (4) is left out. Tonight's discussions have shown that many Members of the Committee recognise that if subsection (4) stands some of the powers of the local planning authority may be overridden by the new functions of the AONBs. We have concerns about that and the amendment speaks for itself. I have reservations about the provision and I beg to move.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: We would welcome clarification because we understood that the management plans drawn up by the conservation agencies would inform all local plans. The development control function would then stay with the local planning authority.

I heard what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, about the reservations of the LGA--it wants the issue clarified--but I did not reply to the noble Lord's remark. Notwithstanding the LGA's desire for clarification, it remains supportive of the concept because its members make up the joint advisory committees. Those democratically elected parish and district county councillors are asking for the formation of the boards. If they have concerns about where the development control function will sit I hope that the Minister will be able to allay them.

Lord Renton of Mount Harry: Speaking in support of the noble Baronesses, Lady Byford and Lady

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Miller, perhaps I, too, may ask the Minister for clarification. It is difficult to see how this clause fits in with the subsequent clause about the establishment of conservation boards. It would be helpful to know precisely what is the meaning behind the proposal. It appears to give an all-embracing power to the local planning authorities, which is then superseded by the subsequent section.

Lord Whitty: I am slightly surprised that the issue has raised such controversy as it virtually reproduces the existing law. Clearly, it does not of itself transfer any powers. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and others appeared to suggest that powers were being transferred but none is switched. The clause gives local planning authorities the powers they need to take supportive action in relation to AONBs but it does not place on them duties and demands over and above what exists. The provision has been in the law since the passage of the 1949 Act, save that the reference to "conserving" was changed to "preserving" during the passage of the Environment Act 1995.

The subsection (4) of the Government's Amendment No. 524, which the amendment intends to remove, re-enacts the provision of the 1949 Act which gives powers to local planning authorities containing all or part of an AONB, and subject to the specified qualifications quoted in the subsequent two subsections, to take all such action which appears to them expedient for the accomplishment of the purpose of conserving and enhancing natural beauty in their part of the AONB. In other words, the form of power given to the local authorities in relation to an AONB has existed since 1949 and has largely stood the test of time. Its relationship to the amendments in the next group--the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry--is that in certain circumstances some of the powers and activities can be agreed among the local authorities to be carried out by the conservation board. It does not alter the basic fact that the powers remain with the local authorities, as they have done since 1949. That does not affect the provisions of the next group of amendments, which provide for a conservation board in those areas where either the local authorities or the Secretary of State decide that that would be appropriate. It has nothing to do with the transfer of powers.

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