House of Commons
|Session 2001- 02|
Other Private Bills before Parliament
Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)
|Greenham and Crookham Commons Bill
This Bill is promoted by the West Berkshire District Council (the Council).
The purpose of the Bill is to restore land in the ownership of the Council in and at the vicinity of the Greenham and Crookham Commons as common land open to the public. The Bill makes provision for the conservation of the natural beauty of the land, grants public access over the land in perpetuity and restores and extends rights of common over the land. The Bill constitutes the Greenham and Crookham Common Commission (the Commission) for the management of the land and confers powers of management on the Council and the Commission.
Clause 1 cites the short title of the Bill and deals with commencement.
Clause 2 deals with interpretation.
Clause 3 defines the Council's land at Greenham and Crookham Commons by reference to a map deposited as recited in the Bill. As the land will be managed as one entity it is named Greenham and Crookham Common and is referred to below as the Common. The land shown coloured black, hatched black or cross-hatched black on the map is excluded from the Common. Special provision is made in relation to the land shown shaded grey on the map.
Clause 4 extends existing rights of Common so that they are exercisable over the whole of the Common and extinguishes any rights of Common over the land excluded from the Common by clause 3.
Clause 5 enables certain persons who previously had rights of common over the Common which have been extinguished to apply to the Council to restore those rights in respect of the Common on payment of the amount of compensation given in respect of the extinguishment of the rights. Applications must be made within one year. Where no application to restore a right of common is made within that period, the Council may vest the right in any person owning the freehold of a residential property situated in the area adjoining the Common shown stippled on the deposited map.
Clause 6 enables the Council to designate additional open space over which the public will have access. This power extends to the land shown cross-hatched on the deposited map if that land is acquired by the Council. Other land may only be designated with the consent of the Commission and any person having a relevant interest in the land and following consultation with any other local authority in whose area the land is situated. A designation may be subject to conditions and time limits. Land so designated will be managed as part of the Common but will not be made subject to rights of common under the Act. Provision is made for designations to be revoked or varied.
Clause 7 and Schedules 1 to 3 establish, and provide for the constitution of, the Commission. Clause 7 provides that the Commission will have 20 members, being 10 elected commoners, three persons appointed by the Council (of which one must be a person nominated by the Greenham and Crookham Conservation Volunteers), one appointed by each of Greenham Parish Council, Thatcham Town Council, Newbury Town Council, English Nature and Greenham Common Community Trust Ltd and two appointed by the Central Council of Physical Recreation. Part 1 of Schedule 1 makes provision for the appointment of Commissioners. Apart from special provisions relating to the appointment of the first Commissioners, Commissioners will normally be appointed annually and will hold office for the period from 1 June to 31 May. Part 2 of Schedule 1 deals with the election of Commissioners. As regards the first election, the commoners eligible to vote or to be nominated for election will be those specified on a list prepared by the Council's returning officer. Thereafter elections will be based on the register of commoners prepared by the Commission. Elections will be conducted by the returning officer and will take place, by post or ballot, in May in every third year. The normal term of office will be for three years commencing on 1 June. Schedule 2 sets out the election timetable and rules for the election of Commissioners. Schedule 3 contains incidental provisions with respect to the Commission.
Clause 8 sets out the general duties of the Council and the Commission to use their reasonable endeavours to restore and conserve the Common, to conserve any part of the Common which is a site of special scientific interest, to promote and improve grazing, to promote educational activities, to manage the Common and any additional open space as a place open to the public for recreational purposes and to facilitate the exercise of commoners' rights on the Common. The Council and the Commission are also placed under a duty to exercise their functions in a manner which they consider will implement the policy set out in the Management Plan prepared under Clause 9.
Clause 9 requires the Council, with the approval of the Commission and in consultation with bodies representing relevant interests, to prepare a management plan for the Common within three years of the coming in force of that provision and to review the management plan at least once in every five years.
Clause 10 requires the occupier of land adjoining the Common or any additional open space to repair or where necessary renew a fence which has been erected by the Council between the land and the Common or additional open space.
Clause 11 grants a right of public access to the Common and any additional open space on foot for the purpose of open-air recreation and a right of access on horseback or bicycle on defined paths or tracks. The right of access is subject to restrictions in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
Clause 12 makes provision as to the effect of public access on owners' rights and liabilities including occupiers' liability.
Clause 13 requires the Council to prepare, keep up to date and make available for public inspection a map of the Common.
Clause 14 enables the Council to restrict access to parts of the Common for temporary periods for conservation purposes, the protection of animals or the prevention of fire risks. The consent of the Commission is required except in emergency or where the area of the land concerned is less than two hectares or the duration of the regulation or prohibition will be less than 30 days.
Clause 15 enables the Council to make byelaws to conserve and manage the Common or any additional open space, to prevent nuisances and to secure good behaviour and public safety. The Council must consult the Commission before making byelaws and any byelaws must be confirmed by the Secretary of State.
Clauses 16 and 17 make provision for the Council, with the consent of the Commission, to provide parking spaces to facilitate public access and to provide other facilities.
Clause 18 enables the Council to exchange land forming part of the Common with the consent of either the Commission or the Secretary of State where the area of land disposed of is less than five hectares or with the consent of the Secretary of State if the area of land disposed of is five hectares or more. Provision is made for the Council to advertise any proposal to exchange land. Any representations which are made and not withdrawn must be sent to the Secretary of State or the Commission with the application for consent.
Clause 19 enables the Council, with the consent of the Commission, to authorise the holding of special events on the Common or any additional open space provided the events are conducive to the attainment of the Council's duties under clause 8. Provision is also made for the setting aside of any part of the Common and any additional open space for the exclusive use for any specified form of, or any specified, recreational or educational activity.
Clause 20 enables the Council, with the exception of their duties under Clauses 8 and 9 and their power to appoint days for the coming into force of the Act and to designate additional open space under clause 6, to delegate their functions under the Act to the Commission or any other person or body. The Council is given power to make charges for the use of facilities or services or for the exclusive use of any part of the Common or additional open space for any specified form of, or specified, recreational or educational activity.
Clause 21 makes provision as to the general duties and powers of the Commission. In particular it provides that the Commission may, with the consent of the Council, do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the discharge of its functions.
Clause 22 enables the Commission to enter into agreements, on terms approved by the Council, permitting the grazing of animals on the Common or any additional open space. Provision is made for the prevention of over-grazing. The clause provides for grazing fees to be applied initially to off-set the Council's costs in promoting the Bill (subject to the retention by the Commission of an annual amount) and, once those costs have been recovered, to be retained by the Commission for the discharge of their functions.
Clause 23 enables the Commission, with the approval of the Council, to make regulations to secure the good management of the Common, as respects the exercise of rights of common and the good husbandry of animals grazed on the Common. Clause 24 provides that the procedure for making regulations will be similar to that for byelaws made by local authorities under the Local Government Act 1972. Clause 25 enables the Commission to appoint reeves to enforce the regulations.
Clause 26 requires the Commission to prepare a register of commoners who exercise rights of common on the Common or who apply to be registered. A commoner who, without reasonable excuse, exercises a right of common without being entered on the register or who gives false or misleading particulars will be guilty of an offence. Provision is made for joint owners to nominate one of their number or a relative as the person entitled to vote in the election of Commissioners and for a commoner to nominate a relative as entitled to vote in his or her place. Clause 27 provides for appeals by persons who are aggrieved by decisions taken in the compilation of the register.
Clause 28 makes provision as to the funding of expenditure incurred by the Commission.
Clause 29 requires the Commission to keep proper accounts and to prepare a statement of accounts for each financial year and for those accounts to be audited and to be made available for public inspection. It also requires the Commission to prepare an annual report relating to the discharge of its functions and for the report to be made available for public inspection.
Miscellaneous and Supplementary
Clause 30 enables the Council, after consulting the Commission, to make a scheme altering the constitution of the Commission subject to confirmation by the Secretary of State by order made by statutory instrument subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament. The Council is required to make a scheme discharging an appointing body from its functions under the Bill if the appointing body so requests. Provision is made for the Council to publish the scheme by advertising in a local newspaper and serving copies of the scheme on the Commission, each of the appointing bodies and other bodies representing relevant interests. Any representations with respect to the scheme which are made and not withdrawn must be sent to the Secretary of State with the application for confirmation.
Clauses 31 and 32 enable the Council to grant easements over the Common and any additional open space and to authorise an officer of the Council or other person to enter the Common with a vehicle.
Clause 33 enables a person to transfer a right of common to a transferee holding a freehold interest in a residential property situated in the area shown stippled on the deposited map or to let or license the right on an annual basis. With those exceptions, it is provided that rights of common may not be severed from the property to which they relate.
Clause 34 revokes the existing scheme of management dated 26 July 1983 made under the Commons Act 1899 insofar as it relates to land forming part of the Common. It extends the byelaws made under that scheme so as to apply to the whole of the Common until they are revoked and replaced by byelaws made under the Bill.
Clause 35 makes provision as to the application of section 194 of the Law of Property Act 1925 in relation to works on the Common.
Clause 36 enables the Secretary of State to cause local inquiries to be held for the purposes of any of the Secretary of State's functions under the Bill.
Clause 37 makes provision as to the service of notices.
Clause 38 provides savings for certain statutory undertakers. Clause 39 provides a saving in respect of the operation of enactments relating to areas of special scientific interest.
Clause 40 provides that any development authorised by the Act shall not be deemed to be permitted development for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Clause 41 provides that Greenham and Crookham Common and any additional open space shall be treated for the purposes of section 15 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as being accessible to the public.
EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
Annette Catherine Thomas, Principal Solicitor, West Berkshire District Council, has made the following statement on behalf of the Council:
In my view the provisions of the Greenham and Crookham Commons Bill are compatible with the Convention rights.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 14 December 2001|