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We are also concerned that the relationship between the MMO and the IPC should be properly scrutinised and appropriately defined in the Bill. We have introduced our two amendments to the Planning Act 2008 with the intention of delineating this relationship, not only to make it clearer but also to ensure that it suitably reflects concerns about the marine area and the authority of the MMO.
Amendment 95 ensures that there is a duty to consult the MMO when making applications for development relating to coastal and offshore areas. It also ensures that the IPC must give notice inviting a local impact report to the MMO, even if only part of the application is considered coastal or offshore.
Our second amendment makes sure that the national policy statement created by the IPC can cover marine areas, but only if it is subject to approval by the MMO. In addition, when the Secretary of State is developing the NPS, he must have regard both to marine policy statements and marine plans.
These amendments are crucial to the working of the Bill. If the MMO is to be a functional and effective body, it cannot be subject to, and subservient to, the IPC and NPS. This is a difficult area, because the complexities of the relationship between land and sea, and the various developments, mean that it is not possible simply to divide one from the other. We need to employ subtleties to make sure that the MMO does not become just another quango that has to obey the IPC.
Our amendments provide a solution to this thorny problem by integrating the Planning Act with the marine Bill in a way that ensures that neither the IPC nor the MMO is rendered ineffectual. Instead, they are encouraged to work together to make sure that both land and sea can be part of a broader plan of sustainable development.
There is also the issue of who says no when the cumulative effect of human activities at sea is too harmful to the marine environment. This ability and need to say no is required by an EU directive. Who will say no? It presumably will not be the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, or indeed the Secretary of State in charge of the IPC. We believe that it should be the MMO. I will be interested to hear the Ministers answer to this. If the final say lies not with the MMO but with the Secretary of State for Defra, will it be made on the advice of the MMO? During the passage of the Planning Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said that the relationship between the IPC and the MMO would be made plain during the course of this Bill. Perhaps the moment has now come and I look forward to his clarification.
Lord Livsey of Talgarth: Some of the most important amendments to the Bill are contained in this group. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, that we have come to the crunch pointin a different sense from the economic crunch. The relationship between the MMO and the IPC is absolutely crucial. Had we had the marine Bill before the Planning Bill, I believe that most of the contents of these amendments would have been contained within that marine Bill and that the Planning Act would be a somewhat different Act of Parliament from what it is.
The wording of these amendments is very apposite. I can see that the will to drive through the targets for renewable energy impact on both the Planning Act and this Bill. We have not got the balance right between conservation and the production of renewable energy. I believe that the Planning Act could have taken care of part of this without forgoing the importance of conservation. If the MMO were the lead body, which I believe it most definitely should be, there is nothing wrong in it having due regard to the importance of climate change. This is a very important debate and I hope that the Minister will respond sympathetically to the point, which I am sure will be made by others shortly.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Apparently not. I agree with the noble Lord about the importance of this group of amendments, although I disagree fundamentally
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Baroness Young of Old Scone: I am puzzled by the Minister's reply, bearing in mind the Governments response to the pre-legislative scrutiny and public consultation. A paragraph on the relationship between the marine policy statements and the national policy statements talks about a government commitment to ensuring consistency between MPSs and NPSs and ensuring that the MMO and the IPC can work effectively. It said:
The Planning Bill has now completed its progress through Parliament and those issues were unresolved during that progress. I suggest that the Government now need to continue to keep those issues under review and consider seriously our amendments.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: That is an ingenious intervention, but as the Minister responsible for debating these points at a late stage of the Planning Bill, I was not at all aware that these matters were unresolved. I thought that there was great clarity about the threshold in relation to offshore renewables, which essentially is what we are talking about, and the relationship and the role of the IPC in relation to that.
Earl Cathcart: I do not buy that at all. It was not resolved in the Planning Bill. During proceedings on the Planning Bill the Minister said that the MMO would be able to say no to an application of the IPC. When we came to discuss it in this Bill, the Minister slightly changed his attitude on how the MMO would be able to say no to a planning application of the IPC. I agree with the noble Baroness: I do not believe that the issue was resolved under the Planning Bill, so we have to bring it back now.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Perhaps I may go on and then we can come back to the general point at the end. Clearly, it is an important one. I do not really agree with the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, when he says that we do not have the balance right between renewables and conservation. I do not want to reopen our great debates on Clause 2 about contributing to sustainable development, but I believe that we have the balance right. The intent of national policy statements is to bring together all relevant government policy, including relevant marine policy, and that is to be the primary factor for IPC decisions in the new, single consent regime. Of course, the national policy statement, which will cover the offshore renewables situation, will, like the marine policy statement, be widely consulted on and scrutinised by Parliament. I also point out that the Planning Act provides that the national policy
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Clause 56 of this Bill amends Section 104(2) of the Planning Act 2008 to add the marine policy statement and relevant marine plans to the list of matters to which the infrastructure planning commission must have regard. This is at the heart of my concern on this matter. We have always been clear that we want a comprehensive and holistic marine policy statement and we are fully committed to ensuring that there is consistency between the marine policy statement
Lord Tyler: The Minister is claiming that there is balance and equality and that there will be a level playing field, but he has not addressed the specific point made by my noble friend Lady Hamwee about the difference between having regard to and in accordance with. Clearly, the test for any application that comes before the IPC is different from one that would have to come before the MMO. Therefore, there is not equality; there is not a level playing field. At the heart of our concerns is the fact that there will be an easier ride for an application to the IPC for development consent, while a similar application to the MMO will have to be dealt with in a different way. There will not be equality of treatment.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I just do not see it that way. I was about to say that we are fully committed to ensuring that there is consistency between the marine policy statements and the national policy statements and that policies for the marine environment are included in the national policy statements where that is relevant. The same administration will be concerned with producing marine policy statements and national policy statements. There is absolutely no reason at all why there should be any inconsistency between what is in the national policy statement and what is in the marine policy statement.
I turn to another point that is of concern to noble Lords. In a sense, there is a fear that somehow the MMO is being sidelined by the arrangements contained within the Planning Act. The IPC will license nationally significant projects, both on land and in the marine area. However, let us be clear that we expect it to handle around 45 applications each year, covering energy, transport and water and waste projects across both the onshore and offshore regions, while the MMO will be dealing with hundreds of other activities and developments taking place each year at sea, the cumulative impact of which are extremely significant. The MMO will also play a key role in advising the IPC on its decisions. We will take steps to ensure that the two bodies work well together.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, asked about the threshold, which we also debated extensively during the passage of the Planning Bill. She will note that, being set at 100 megawatts, the threshold is in contrast to the 50 megawatts that applies on land, because renewable generating stations in the marine area are larger than those on land. It seems sensible that the threshold at which projects are treated differently, and become subject to the IPC regime, should be set
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Amendments 95 and 99 would amend the Planning Act in a slightly different way: first, by adding the MMO to those to be consulted before an applicant submits an application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission and including it in the local impact report procedures set out in the Planning Act; secondly, by giving the power to the MMO to decide whether national policy statements should have effect in the UK marine area; and, lastly, by requiring the Secretary of State to have regard to the MPS and any marine plans when preparing or amending national policy statements.
I know that in our debates on the Planning Bill it was explained that certain persons who must be consulted on pre-application consultations will be prescribed in secondary legislation flowing from that Act. I am happy to reiterate to the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, my intent to include the Marine Management Organisation within these regulations. That process has already begun with the publication late last month of the consultation on regulations under the Planning Act to make the Marine and Fisheries Agency, and subsequently the MMO, a consultee in relation to national policy statements. The consultation on the second package of regulations, which will deal with the pre-application consultation that is the subject of Amendment 95, will be published fairly shortlyin the spring, I am told, although I am not entirely sure what a Defra or a DECC spring is. I can get some more information about that. On that basis, I hope that the noble Earl will agree that we do not need to amend the Planning Act to include this provision.
I know that the noble Earl also wished to include the Marine Management Organisation in Section 60 of the Planning Act 2008, which makes provision regarding local impact reports. The amendments would require the IPC to give written notice to the Marine Management Organisation that it has accepted an application for a nationally significant infrastructure project that relates to coastal or offshore areas and to invite the MMO to submit a local impact report on that application. I ought to tell the Committee that we debated this issue during the passage of the Planning Bill. The provision for the Infrastructure Planning Commission to consider local impact reports is to give due prominence to democratically elected local councillors, who represent the views of local people affected by the proposal. For that reason, the MMO should not be treated in the same way; it is clearly a different type of organisation with a different remit.
That does not mean to say that the MMO will not be involvedfar from it. We intend to prescribe the MMO as a statutory interested party under the
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In addition, amendments made to the Planning Act by paragraph 3 of Schedule 8 to the Bill enable the Infrastructure Planning Commission to deem marine licences to have been issued as part of development consent under the Planning Act, if such a licence would be required for that project. Those marine licences will operate as if the Marine Management Organisation had issued them. Importantly, the MMO will then be responsible for monitoring and enforcing them; it could also add conditions to deemed licences as new information came to light.
The first proposal in Amendment 99 would prevent a national policy statement from applying to the marine area unless it had been approved by the Marine Management Organisation. In relation to this amendment, the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, asked who would say no. Here, we come to an important point. I am strongly resistant to this amendment, because we have to be clear that the national policy statements will state government policysetting out the national need for infrastructure and providing a framework for decisions on nationally significant projects by the Infrastructure Planning Commissionwhile the Marine Management Organisation will be a delivery body and a non-departmental public body.
As we debated on the previous amendments, the MMOs role and expertise in marine matters will, of course, be hugely important. However, it will not set government policy for the marine area. The development of that policy, including the marine policy statement and the adoption of marine plans, is the responsibility of the policy authoritiesthe marine plan authoritiesor, in other words, the Government, but not the Marine Management Organisation. For that reason, I strongly resist the idea that the MMO should be given the power of veto over decisions of Ministers to apply a national policy statement to the marine environment.
The second proposal in Amendment 99 relates to whether the Secretary of State should have regard to the marine policy statement and plans when developing national policy statements. I am glad that the Bill already imposes such a duty: Clause 56(3) requires that public authorities, including government departments and Ministers, have regard to marine policy statements and plans when taking any decisions that are,
Finally, I return to the fascinating question from the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart: who, in government, will say no? In essence, preparing the national policy
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Earl Cathcart: I would like some clarification on who says no. I understand the Ministers argument but what I do not understandit may be me being naiveis, if the Department of Energy and Climate Change is doing oil and gas installations at sea, the IPC is doing the over-100 megawatt installations and the MMO is granting other licences, who is saying, Hang on a minute. Theres too much activity in that part of the sea. Stop! The cumulative effect is too much? The Secretaries of State in those three areas will not be saying that, but there is an EU directive that requires us to have this sort of break in place. That can only be the MMO, which would be looking at the overall effect of all these planning decisions at sea and would, therefore, presumably have to advise the Secretary of State at Defra that there is too much in an area, which is damaging the environment because the cumulative effect is too much. There must be a role for the scientists within the MMO to say that we must stop.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: That is a fair question. We have already agreed that the MMO will have access to expert advice, whether on its own books or throughbut I do not want to go back to the debate that we had for what seemed an eternity. The MMO will have an extraordinary amount of expertise available to it and will be in a position to give advice to my department, Defra, and to other government departments. Since the MMO will be the licensing authority for the great majority of licensing divisions, acting within the marine plan and the marine policy statement, it will have a hugely influential role.
The noble Earl asked what would happen if, in a few years time, a view is taken that activity in part of the marine area is doing damage. One would be extremely concerned, because Part 4, which we will come to shortly, lays down explicit circumstances in which the Marine Management Organisation will operate and in which licences will be granted. For example, Clause 66Determination of applicationsstates that,
So one would be concerned if, notwithstanding the constraints and protections in the legislation, the cumulative impact of licensing decisions, most of which would have been made by the MMO, was causing the concern that the noble Earl suggests. In those circumstances, I would have thought that the MMO would advise relevant government departments.
I have already said that, in relation to the work of the IPC, the MMO will make advice available. There
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Baroness Byford: This was one of the issues that exercised the pre-legislative scrutiny committee. There was concern that these matters were not being dealt with in the same way. I have no more to add, except to say that it is crucial that this is got right. Although the smaller installations that might seek approval from the MMO would be greater in number, the bigger installations could clearly have greater impact on the marine environment. The committee considered this in great depth and my noble friend has a valid point. The difficulty is that the MMO has certain responsibilities, yet the Secretary of State or Minister in whichever devolved Administration will have the overall responsibility. Those things do not sit very happily together. There was considerable discussion in the committee and unease that the two are being dealt with differently. I did not have the advantage of sitting on the planning committee, so I cannot comment on what went on in it. However, the Minister should not be unaware of the degree of concern on this issue.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am aware of the degree of concern because we have debated it on a number of occasions. If one were to cut the cards in a different way, there would still be inconsistencies, because if we were to accept the thrust of the amendments, we would be taking the marine area out of the planning regime that we have just enacted. There are a number of ways in which one can approach this, but we get consistency through the national policy statement and the marine policy statement being entirely consistent. We think that the best way to get consistency is by the MMO being in a strong position to give advice to the IPC about the decisions that it is called on to make.
Baroness Young of Old Scone: There is a difference in relation to getting consistency between the marine policy statement and the national policy statement. My perception of the two statements is that they can probably coexist at quite a high level of generality; the nub of the question comes when you start to make individual planning decisions. It is quite conceivable that you could have two policy statements that seemed compatible whereas at the same time there was a requirement, as the result of an individual planning application, to decide whether the economic significance, climate-change significance, or whatever other significance of an offshore energy proposition, for exampleand offshore energy is not the only issue, there are many other issues to do with marine resources in generalwas more important than the impact on the marine environment which the MMO and the marine policy statement are aimed at protecting.
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