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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 356:


"( ) Crown land may be sold to a community trust for the purposes of benefiting the public interest."

The noble Baroness said: This amendment is concerned with Crown land, because the Crown owns the seabed. My amendment is simply designed to elicit some information from the Minister. Suppose a community wanted to construct a tidal lagoon. I believe that, as it is set up now, the Crown is obliged to seek the highest possible price for any licence. So if a community interest company wanted to construct such a thing, would this provision be able to be waived or would we have to change primary legislation? I believe that as tidal power and other things that may involve the seabed become more viable—as they are—communities may well develop an interest. The acquisition of a licence from the Crown is a considerable expense and it would be useful to think that the necessity to gain the highest price possible is a provision that might be waived in favour of communities. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: The noble Baroness asks a simple question, but I am advised that the answer is complex. If she will forgive me, I shall write to her, attempting to answer the query that she raises.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I realise it is late but I gave notice of the question to the Minister's team, so I am slightly surprised by his reply. I look forward to receiving his letter, but I may need to return to the matter on Report depending on his answer. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 94 agreed to.

Clauses 95 to 97 agreed to.

Schedule 11 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 356A:


"( ) Natural England shall, within 60 days of completing a compulsory purchase transaction, pay to the vendor the agreed sum.
( ) If a sum is not agreed, Natural England shall, within 60 days of completing the transaction pay, as a first instalment, the amount of its original offer.
( ) The Commission for Rural Communities shall monitor and report on the operation of compulsory purchase transactions under section 15A(1)."

The noble Baroness said: The amendment speaks for itself. We have had the debates about Natural England being able to undertake compulsory purchase
 
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transactions. I was assured that with English Nature it had happened only once in recent years. There is an issue around how it is paid as, in the past—I am not suggesting this was an English Nature case—sometimes compulsory purchase happens but the money does not always follow quite as quickly as it should. I beg to move.

Lord Bach: Amendment No. 356A would try to enhance the negotiating position of the landowner where either Natural England or the Countryside Council for Wales was seeking to compulsorily purchase land where it was necessary to do so to conserve a specially vulnerable site.

The amendment addresses a perceived problem with existing compulsory purchase procedures, attempts to set specific timelines for negotiations and seeks to improve the cash-flow position for any landowner who wishes to get an independent final ruling on the fair price for the land from the Lands Tribunal.

There are already well established procedures for dealing with such negotiations and for advance payments under the Land Compensation Act 1973, as recently enhanced by the Planning and Compensation Act 2004, to be made while the final payment is subject to determination by the tribunal.

The advance payment provisions in the 1973 Act enable 90 per cent of the acquiring authority's estimate of the compensation due to be paid within three months of the claimant's written request. This, combined with the fact that under the terms of Section 1 of the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965 interest is payable from the date on which the authority enters and takes possession until the outstanding compensation is paid, would at first sight seem to offer sufficient safeguards to ensure that landowners are not disadvantaged.

Additionally, the proposed amendment would represent an exception to the provisions that apply for land that is not within an SSSI. We can at present see no justification for treating landowners whose land is acquired under Section 15A of the Countryside Act 1968 differently from those whose land is compulsorily purchased for other reasons under other compulsory purchase powers. If an exception is made in this case, this would make for inconsistency between acquiring authorities under different legislative regimes. We do not think that can be right.

In any event the 60 days mentioned is a very short period for agreeing the amount of compensation. Sometimes this can be a complex process and could take much longer. I hope that answer satisfies the noble Baroness.

Baroness Byford: I am grateful to the Minister. His reply that I have to go back to the Land Compensation Act 1973 rather reflects on some of the problems that we have had with the Bill because so much of it has involved going back to Acts of long-standing. At this late stage I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
 
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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 357:

The noble Lord said: This group of eight minor amendments addresses two technical issues that I do not intend to take long in describing to the Committee. The first three are small clarifications to three paragraphs within Schedule 11 of minor and consequential amendments. They will ensure that there is consistency of application within the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, clarifying whether particular provisions apply to the 12-mile territorial waters round England and Wales. Amendment No. 359 adds a new sub-paragraph within paragraph 76 of the schedule. That reflects a late clarification from the Scottish Executive that they do not want the new definition of "premises" introduced in Committee in the Commons to apply in Scotland.

The other two small consequential amendments are Amendments Nos. 357 and 358. The remaining five amendments contain small consequential amendments that make minor amendments to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. I remind noble Lords that "limestone pavement" refers not to pavements outside a house but to outcrops of rock, whose surface has been dissolved by water over millions of years. I knew that noble Lords would know that. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 358 to 364:


"( ) Sub-paragraph (3) extends to England and Wales (including their adjacent territorial waters) only."
Page 84, line 16, leave out "33" and insert "34"
Page 84, line 17, after "interest" insert "and limestone pavements"
Page 84, line 38, leave out "in England"
Page 84, line 39, leave out from "area" to end of line 2 on page 85.
Page 85, line 3, after ""the" insert "Council and the"

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 11, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 12 [Repeals and revocations]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 365:


"Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (c. 42)In section 155(4), "or" preceding paragraph (h)."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 12, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 98 agreed to.

Clause 99 [Commencement]:


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