Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200-215)|
QC, MR MIKE
TUESDAY 18 DECEMBER 2001
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton)use of a property
in some commercial way could suddenly be turned into a nightclub.
We are very alive to the fact that many, many communities would
find that both disruptive and detrimental to the way that
201. It would be good for business, would it
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I do not know about that.
Whether it would be good for business or not it is something that
people have mentioned to me that they are concerned about. It
is not in the proposal that you are referring to but there was
one proposal, I do not know where it came from, saying that any
shop could be used for a nightclub and that would really horrify
people as a possibility.
202. That is the urban area. The same point
can be made about planning in the rural area where at the moment
the quality of life of a lot of rural dwellers is ruined by noisy
motorised activities that get away with it because they do it
for less than 28 days a year. Are you looking at that issue?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) When you refer to a noisy
motorised activity, is that a car boot sale?
Christine Russell: Quad bikes.
203. A car boot sale is an issue but that is
nothing like as difficult to live with on a Sunday morning as
motorbike scrambling or four wheel drive off-road vehicles.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The car boot sale and
the go karting and motorbike scrambling point has also been raised
with me and I think that is something we need to consult about.
It will be a moderately open-textured consultation because use
classes are something that people are very, very sensitive about
because of the situation where very, very intrusive things could
potentially happen without the need for an application either
to a local authority or to change existing planning permission.
It is something that we are very conscious of as being very sensitive.
204. Can I take you on. You have talked a lot
about these 40 authorities who have not produced their plans.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Yes.
205. They are off the hook now presumably, with
the new proposals they can just forget about it?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) No. This is a consultation
document. I would like to make it clear that the existing planning
regime continues. As I say, this is only a Green Paper.
Mr Betts: Or not.
206. By the time we get to this new legislation
coming into force, how many of those 40 do you expect to have
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I do not know is the answer
to that because they have managed to hold out for the last ten
207. How many would you like to achieve their
plans by that time?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) I would like to see every
single one of those produce their plans but I do not know whether
that is realistic.
208. So you are still pleading that they get
on with these plans?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Yes, because without a
local development plan there is not remotely the certainty that
comes from a plan their
209. I know you told this Committee before when
you were here on the estimates your timetable for implementing
this, can you just repeat that for us so we are clear about it?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) The Green Paper specifies
18 March for the conclusion of responses. We would hope to make
a policy statement in the light of the responses by the middle
of next year. Some of the changes if they go ahead would require
legislation. The earliest possible time that legislation could
be introduced would be November 2002 but whether or not legislation
is introduced in that session which starts in November 2002 will
depend upon whether or not there is a legislative slot and I have
got no way of telling whether there will be or whether there will
not. If, and it is a big if, legislation were introduced in the
session which commenced in November 2002 the statutory changes
would be very, very unlikely to come into force before 2004.
210. So between now and 2004 we are actually
going to have greater uncertainty in the planning system, are
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) And we need to be clear
once the consultation process is over precisely what the arrangement
will be. It is impossible to embark upon significant changes of
the planning system which we think are worthwhile without there
being need for transitional arrangements in the meantime.
211. So an authority, say Sheffield, they have
just started the revision process for the UDP, they should continue
with that, should they?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) They should most certainly
continue with that. I would like to make it absolutely clear that
the existing system prevails. This is a consultation document.
We believe that changes will come out of it but at the moment
it is a consultation document so the existing system continues.
(Mr Ash) As I said to Sir Paul earlier, there are
elements of the present system which you can see could be applied
to the new approach that we are setting out. It is possible at
the moment for a local authority, for example, to do an update
of its plan for a particular area as opposed to the whole of its
area. The transitional issues that we will look at will be to
see to what degree work which is being done now in terms of reviewing
plans would be applicable in the new circumstance in which it
could be carried forward into the new plans.
212. These projects that are going to be subject
to the new parliamentary procedure, would a nuclear power station
be that sort of thing?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) It plainly could be, but
whether it would be or not will depend upon the circumstances
at the particular time. What the document says is that it would
have to be a major national infrastructure project and it is a
matter for the Secretary of State at the time to determine whether
or not he or she designates a particular project.
213. It is not possible for a nuclear power
station not to be a major infrastructure project, a dinky little
nuclear power station? It almost necessarily is, is it not?
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) It would be possible for
the Secretary of State not to designate. That may be a more accurate
way of putting it.
214. It is possible the Secretary of State will
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) He might take the view
that the best process to deal with a particular project is that.
215. I think there are quite a lot of issues
that the Committee would want to pursue and I suspect that we
will be doing a full inquiry into this in the spring, which would
seem logical. Can I, at this point, thank you very much indeed
for your evidence this morning.
(Lord Falconer of Thoroton) Thank you very much indeed,