|Clean Neighbourhoods And Environment Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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PART 7: NOISE
CHAPTER 1: AUDIBLE INTRUDER ALARMS
Alarm notification areas
196. Clauses 69 to 76 introduce new powers for local authorities to deal with the annoyance caused by audible intruder alarms in their areas. The regime enables a local authority to designate its area (or part of it) as an alarm notification area. The effect of a designation is that the occupier or owner of any premises (residential or non-residential) in the area must notify the local authority of the details of a "key-holder" for the premises. The authority will then be able to turn to that key-holder for assistance in silencing an alarm. It will be an offence to fail to nominate or notify the local authority of the details of a key-holder.
Clause 69 Designation of alarm notification areas
197. Clause 69 sets out the steps that must be followed by a local authority wishing to designate an area as an alarm notification area. In particular, subsection (5) provides that an authority must consider representations on a proposal to make a designation and subsection (8) provides that where it decides to make a designation, the authority must send notice of that decision to all premises in the area.
Clause 70 Withdrawal of designation
198. Clause 70 enables a local authority to withdraw a designation made under clause 69.
Clause 71 Notification of nominated key-holders
199. Clause 71 requires that the responsible person in respect of premises with an audible intruder alarm within an alarm notification area must nominate a key-holder for the premises and then notify the local authority of that key-holder's name, address and telephone number. The responsible person is the occupier of (or a person entitled to occupy) the premises or, where there is no such person, the owner of the premises. Clause 71(2) and (4) makes it an offence for the responsible person to fail either to nominate or to notify within the specified time period.
Clause 72 Nomination of key-holders
200. Clause 72 (subsections (3), (4) and (5)) describes who is eligible to be nominated as a key-holder.
201. Subsection (6) provides that where a key-holder ceases to satisfy certain requirements, the responsible person must nominate a replacement. The responsible person would then, under clause 71, have to notify the details of the new key-holder to the local authority. Again, failure either to nominate or notify would be an offence.
Clause 73 Offences under section 71: fixed penalty notices
202. Clause 73 (subsections (1) and (2)) enables an "authorised officer" of a local authority, to issue a fixed penalty notice where it appears to him that an offence of failing to nominate or notify details of a key-holder has been committed, offering the offender an opportunity to discharge, by payment of a fixed penalty within 14 days, any liability to conviction for the offence. Who qualifies as an authorised officer is described in subsection (11). The rest of the clause sets out the effects of the fixed penalty notice, what information such a notice should contain, and procedures for payment.
Clause 74 Amount of fixed penalty
203. Clause 74 (subsections (2) and (3)) enables a local authority to specify the amount of a fixed penalty for an offence committed in its area. Where no amount is set by a local authority, the penalty amount will be £75. In either case, a local authority may treat a penalty as having been paid if a lesser amount is paid before the end of such (shorter) period as it may specify.
204. Subsections (4) and (5) give power to the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (as appropriate) to make regulations governing the power of local authorities to set local fixed penalty rates (e.g. by specifying a range within which the amount must fall or limiting the extent and circumstances in respect of which a local authority may provide for reduced early payment).
Clause 75 Use of fixed penalty receipts
205. Clause 75 (subsections (1) to (3)) allows a local authority to retain the receipts arising from fixed penalty notices issued pursuant to clause 73, and specifies the functions for which the receipts may be used. These include its new functions in relation to audible intruder alarms, its functions under the Noise Act 1996 and its functions in relation to noise statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
206. Subsections (4) to (7) make further provision regarding the spending of fixed penalty receipts and include a power for the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (as the case may be) to make regulations about how local authorities can use their penalty receipts.
207. Subsection (8) makes similar provision to that made by clause 8 (subsection(8)) as described in paragraph 44 above.
Clause 76 Fixed penalty notices: power to require name and address
208. Clause 76 provides an authorised officer of a local authority with the power to require the name and address of a person if the officer proposes to give him a fixed penalty notice, and makes it an offence for that person either to fail to give that information or to give false or inaccurate information.
Powers in relation to alarms
Clause 77 Power of entry
209. Clause 77 (subsections (3) and (4)) provides an authorised officer of a local authority with a power of entry (but not by force) in order to silence an intruder alarm in or on premises in the authority's area where he is satisfied that the conditions described in clause 77(2) are met. The use of the power is not limited to premises in an area which has been designated as an alarm notification area, but where the premises are in such an area, one of the conditions that must be satisfied before the power can be used is that reasonable steps have been taken to get the key-holder to silence the alarm.
Clause 78 Warrant to enter premises by force
210. Clause 78 provides that an authorised officer may enter premises using reasonable force if necessary to silence an alarm following the issue of a warrant by a justice of the peace. Before issuing a warrant, the justice of the peace must be satisfied certain conditions are met (subsection (1)). These include that the officer is unable to enter the premises without the use of force.
Clause 79 Powers of entry: supplementary
211. Clause 79 makes supplementary provision where an officer of a local authority enters any premises to silence an alarm either under clause 77 or under a warrant issued under clause 78.
212. This includes provision allowing a local authority to recover expenses reasonably incurred by it in connection with entering the premises and silencing the alarm (subsection (7)) and ensuring that action taken in good faith by the authority under these powers does not subject it to any liability (subsection (9)).
Clause 80 Orders and regulations
213. Clause 80 provides that orders or regulations made under chapter 1 of this Part of the Bill are to be made by statutory instrument by negative resolution.
CHAPTER 2: GENERAL
Noise from premises
Clause 82 Noise offences: fixed penalty notices
214. Clause 82 makes various amendments to the provisions in the Noise Act 1996 relating to fixed penalties. The Noise Act 1996 currently permits a local authority to deal with noise exceeding permitted levels from dwellings at night-time. An authorised officer of a local authority can, under section 8 of the Act, give a person who he believes has committed an offence under the Act a fixed penalty notice, offering him the opportunity to discharge any liability to conviction for that offence by payment of a fixed penalty.
215. Clause 82(3) introduces new sections 8A and 8B to the 1996 Act. Under new section 8A(2)(a) a local authority will be able to set the level of the fixed penalty (in lieu of liability to conviction for an offence) in its area. The fixed penalty is set at £100 where no amount is specified by a local authority (which is the amount of the penalty under the current regime). In either case, a local authority may treat a penalty as having been paid if a lesser amount is paid before the end of such (shorter) period as it may specify.
216. New sections 8A(4) and (5) give powers to the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales (as appropriate) to make regulations governing the power of local authorities to set local fixed penalty rates (e.g. by specifying a range within which the amount must fall or limiting the extent and circumstances in respect of which a local authority may provide for reduced early payment).
217. The new section 8B provides an authorised officer of a local authority with the power to require the name and address of a person if the officer proposes to give him a fixed penalty notice, and makes it an offence for that person either to fail to give that information or to give false or inaccurate information.
218. Clause 84 and Schedule 1 (discussed below) amend the Noise Act 1996 by extending its effect to certain licensed premises as well as dwellings. The new sections 8A and 8B will apply equally to fixed penalties given in respect of an alleged offence in relation to licensed premises but Schedule 1 amends new section 8A to provide that where the alleged offence relates to licensed premises, the amount of the fixed penalty will be fixed at £500 (with no power for a local authority to set an alternative).
Clause 83 Noise offences: use of fixed penalty receipts
219. Clause 83 amends section 9 of the Noise Act 1996, which contains provisions dealing with the use by local authorities of receipts from fixed penalty notices given under section 8 of that Act.
220. The amendments made by subsection (2) include in the list of qualifying functions for which a local authority can use those receipts its new functions relating to intruder alarms under Chapter 1 of Part 7 and its functions in relation to noise statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
221. Subsection (3) makes similar provision to that made by clause 8 (subsection(8)) as described in paragraph 44 above.
Clause 84 and Schedule 1 Extension of Noise Act 1996 to licensed premises etc
222. Clause 84 and Schedule 1 extend the powers under the Noise Act 1996 for a local authority to take action to deal with noise at night (formerly restricted to noise from dwellings) to premises in respect of which there is either a premises licence or a temporary event notice in effect under the Licensing Act 2003 (referred to generally as "licensed premises").
223. Schedule 1 amends the Noise Act 1996 in order to give effect to this extension. The new regime for licensed premises to all intents and purposes mirrors the existing one for dwellings.
224. In particular, paragraph 6 of the Schedule inserts a new section 4A into that Act which provides that an offence is committed by the responsible person in respect of the licensed premises where, further to the service of a warning notice under section 3 (as amended by paragraph 4 of the Schedule), noise exceeding the permitted level is emitted from the premises in the period specified in the warning notice. The permitted level for noise from such premises will be determined by the Secretary of State under section 5 of the Noise Act 1996 (as amended by paragraph 7 of the Schedule) in time for the implementation of this provision.
225. The responsible person in respect of the premises is defined in the new subsection (6) to be inserted into section 3 of the Noise Act 1996. That person is, broadly speaking, the most senior person present at the premises at the time the offence is committed.
226. The amendments to the Noise Act 1996 in paragraphs 10 to 12 of Schedule 1 extend to licensed premises the provisions which enable a local authority to issue a fixed penalty notice in lieu of liability to conviction for an offence under the Act. The fixed penalty in respect of licensed premises is set at £500 (with no power for a local authority to set an alternative rate in its area).
227. Paragraphs 13 to 14 of Schedule 1 make amendments extending the 1996 Act's provisions on powers of entry and seizure to licensed premises.
Clause 85 Noise Act 1996: supplementary
228. This clause makes some technical amendments to the Noise Act 1996 to account for the transfer of functions of the Secretary of State relating to Wales under that Act to the National Assembly for Wales.
Statutory noise nuisances
Clause 86 Deferral of duty to serve abatement notice
229. Clause 86 amends section 80 Environmental Protection Act 1990 so as to enable a local authority to defer the issuing of an abatement notice in respect of noise which it is satisfied constitutes a statutory nuisance for seven days, while it takes any other appropriate steps to persuade the person on whom it would otherwise be serving the notice to abate the nuisance or prohibit or restrict its occurrence or recurrence. There is no obligation on the authority to pursue this alternative route - it may still proceed by issuing an abatement notice straightaway if it so chooses. If the authority does defer and the nuisance is not abated after the seven day period (or if the authority concludes before then that it will not be abated within that period), the authority must proceed to serve an abatement notice under section 80(1).
PART 8: ARCHITECTURE AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
230. Part 8 is concerned with the establishment of a statutory corporation to be known as the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (the "Commission"). There is currently a non-departmental public body of the same name (the "old Commission"), which is constituted as a private company limited by guarantee. The Bill, in effect, transfers the functions, staff and property of the old Commission to the new statutory body, thereby putting the old Commission on a statutory footing. The old Commission will be dissolved under the Bill.
Clause 87 and Schedule 2 Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
231. Clause 87 establishes the corporate body and Schedule 2 makes further provision about its constitution as well as other matters relating to its proceedings, accounts etc.
Clause 88 General functions of the Commission
232. Clause 88 sets out the general functions of the Commission, where it may operate, its powers and the conditions which apply to them. The functions of the Commission, which broadly reflect the objects of the old Commission under its memorandum of association, are the promotion of education and high standards in, and an understanding and appreciation of, architecture and the design, management and maintenance of the built environment.
233. Subsection (4) describes some of the specific powers that the Commission has for the purpose of discharging its functions. Again, these broadly reflect the powers of the old Commission, which are set out in its memorandum of association.
234. In subsection (9) the Commission is required, in discharging its functions, to have regard to national policies and advice relating to sustainable development contained in guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This provision is included in recognition of government's aim to deliver sustainable development. Policy in this area is broad in its aims in that it relates to social, economic and environmental factors.
235. Subsection (10) defines the "built environment" in terms that allow the Commission to carry out its functions not only in relation to buildings and structures but also in relation to open spaces designed for human use (such as parks and, recreation areas). It also ensures that the Commission's remit covers any other area available for public use which is in the vicinity of a structure or "man-made" open space. This part of the definition is designed to ensure that natural areas such as commons, heaths and beaches in the vicinity of seaside towns can be within the Commission's jurisdiction.
Clause 89 Changes to the function of the Commission
236. This clause enables the Secretary of State by order to amend the Commission's functions. An order can only confer a further function on the Commission if the new function is connected either directly or indirectly to an existing or former function of the Commission. This provides flexibility should other functions arise which are complementary to the Commission's existing or previous functions. The Commission's role has changed since its inception (from promoting high standards in design and management of buildings and structures to also working in relation to the design and management of parks and public spaces) and this provision will ensure that similar changes can occur in the future.
Clause 90 Power to dissolve the Commission
237. Clause 90 enables an order to be made by the Secretary of State to wind up the Commission. It specifies that the order may, among other things, provide for the transfer of the functions, property, rights or liabilities of the Commission to another person. It also protects the employees by ensuring that an order made under this clause will apply the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations ("TUPE") to the transfer of rights and liabilities relating to employees. There is no current intention to dissolve the Commission. However, this provision is included so that it can be dissolved should a future need arise.
Clause 91 Dissolution of the old Commission; Clause 92 and Schedule 3 Transfer of staff, property etc from the old Commission
238. Clause 91 provides for the dissolution of the old Commission. Clause 92 gives effect to Schedule 3 which provides for the transfer of staff, property, rights and liabilities from the old Commission to the Commission. The effect of paragraph 1 of Schedule 3 is that TUPE will apply to the transfer of staff. These transfers will take place immediately before the dissolution of the old Commission.
Clause 93 Tax
239. The effect of clause 93 is that the transfers from the old Commission to the Commission under this Part will be tax neutral. They will not give rise to any tax, or confer a tax advantage, on either body. This is achieved mainly by treating the Commission as the same person as the old Commission for tax purposes.
Clause 94 Architecture and the built environment: financial assistance
240. This clause enables the Secretary of State to provide financial assistance to any person, for the purposes described (which mirror the functions of the Commission).
241. If an order is made under clause 89 to change the functions of the Commission, subsection (4) enables the Secretary of State to make an order amending the purposes for which financial assistance may be given under this clause in a similar fashion to ensure that any changes to the Commission's functions need not affect the availability of financial assistance.
Clause 95 Orders
242. Clause 95 requires that any order made under Part 8 is to be made by statutory instrument by affirmative resolution, with the exception of an order under paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 2, to vary the maximum or minimum numbers of members of the Commission.
PART 9: MISCELLANEOUS
Use of fixed penalty receipts
Clause 96 Use of fixed penalty receipts: higher tier authorities
243. Clause 96 enables "higher tier" authorities to use for certain functions the money received from any fixed penalty notices they issue in respect of certain offences relating to litter, graffiti, fly-posting and dog control offences. In particular, in respect of litter the relevant offences are those of dropping litter, of failing to comply with a litter clearing notice or street litter control notice, and of distributing free printed matter without consent in a designated area.
244. Higher tier authorities are authorities other than a parish or community council, i.e. a local authority.
245. Subsection (3), (4) and (5) set out the functions that the receipts can be used for (which may be set out in regulations).
246. Subsection (10) makes similar provision to that made by clause 8 (subsection(8)) as described in paragraph 44 above.
Clause 97 Use of fixed penalty receipts: lower tier authorities
247. Clause 97 relates to the use of receipts by "lower tier" authorities from fixed penalty notices issued by them for certain offences relating to litter, graffiti, fly-posting and dog control offences. Lower tier authorities are parish or community councils, or secondary authorities designated as such under clause 58(3) for the purposes of dog control offences.
248. Clause 97 requires regulations to be made regarding the use of such receipts collected by lower tier authorities. The regulations may specify which (if any) of their functions lower tier authorities may use their fixed penalty receipts for. Alternatively, the regulations could require such receipts to be paid to another person or body, such as the Secretary of State or National Assembly for Wales.
249. Subsection (3) allows regulations under clause 97 to be linked to the performance of lower tier authorities. For example, regulations under subsection (1) could make the use of fixed penalty receipts dependent on performance, such that high performing authorities could be allowed to spend their receipts on any of their functions.
Clause 98 Sections 96 and 97: supplementary
250. Clause 98 provides a definition of "appropriate person" for the purposes of the powers conferred by clauses 96 and 97. The effect is that the powers are conferred on the Secretary of State in relation to England, and the Assembly in relation to Wales.
251. Subsections (3) and (4) require the regulations to be made by affirmative resolution.
Shopping and luggage trolleys
Clause 99 Abandoned shopping and luggage trolleys
252. Clause 99 amends Schedule 4 to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 so as to enable a local authority to charge the person believed to be the owner of an abandoned shopping or luggage trolley for its removal, storage and disposal. Under the present system, charges are only payable by persons actually claiming the return of their trolleys. If proceedings are brought against a person for the recovery of such a charge, it is a defence for him to prove that he was not the owner of the trolley at the time it was removed.
Clause 100 Section 99: transitional provision
253. Clause 100 sets out the transitional provisions that apply where, before clause 99 comes into force, a local authority has resolved under section 99 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to apply Schedule 4 to that Act in its area.
254. Subsection (2) provides that such a resolution is to have no effect if the date it sets for Schedule 4 to apply in the local authority's area falls on or after the day on which clause 99 comes into force.
255. If the resolution has already taken effect at the date clause 99 comes into force, subsections (3) to (5) allow Schedule 4 to continue to apply in the local authority's area without the amendments made by the Bill for no more than three years. These subsections do not prevent the local authority from resolving to apply Schedule 4 as amended by this Bill at any time in those three years.
256. Subsection (7) ensures that a local authority, in fixing the level of charges to be imposed on the owners of seized trolleys, keeps separate the costs and charges associated with the new and old versions of Schedule 4.
Clause 101 Statutory nuisance: insects
257. This clause amends section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 so as to provide that the statutory nuisances listed in that section include "insects emanating from industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance".
258. The effect of subsection (3) is to prevent any insect included in Schedule 5 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (animals which are protected) from being treated as a statutory nuisance.
259. Clause 101 has the effect of subjecting nuisance insects to the statutory nuisance regime in Part 3 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Part 3 includes a provision requiring a local authority, if satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists, or is likely to occur or recur in its area, to issue an abatement notice against the person responsible for the nuisance, or the owner or occupier of the premises from which it emanates.
|© Parliamentary copyright 2004||Prepared: 8 December 2004|