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I return to the principal point: the provision is on a financial issue that should rightly be a matter for this elected House of Commons. Since the Bills publication, the provision has been that there would be an affirmative
procedure for the CIL regulations. That provision was not subject to any proposed amendment in any of its stages in this House. It is not appropriate to make the change now, and therefore if Opposition Members press Lords amendment No. 160 to a Division, I encourage my hon. Friends to reject it.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 7, Lords amendment No. 8 and amendment (a) thereto, Lords amendments Nos. 9 to 64, Lords amendment No. 65 and amendments (a) to (c) thereto, Lords amendments Nos. 66 to 100, 164 to 170, 173 to 182, 184, 185, 187, 189, 191 to 212 and 214 to 217.
This large group of amendments relates to parts 1 to 8 and part 12, which are concerned with the creation of a new single consent regime for nationally significant infrastructure projects. At each stage of the Bill in both Houses, that issue has been subject to
detailed parliamentary debate and scrutiny. However, even in the months since we first published the Bill, we have seen economic circumstances change dramatically. We have seen the effect of instability in the world energy markets, and it has never been so evident. That has concentrated minds still further on our national need for new investment in energy generation, and in particular on our need to replace one third of our electricity generation within the next 20 years or so.
In the nine months since we first debated the Bill, the world has become even more conscious of the threat of climate change. We have now pledged to move towards a carbon reduction of not 60 per cent. but 80 per cent. in this country by 2050. Doing that will require a tenfold increase in renewable generation over the next 12 years. Finally, the issues of pressure and competitiveness in the world economy, and competition for much needed investment in this country, are now even clearer.
Let us take, for example, Shell Haven port. That new development represents a £1.5 billion investment and will create in Britain the largest new logistics centre in Europe. The promoters estimate that it will generate 12,000 jobs, raise skills and bring huge regeneration benefits to the Thames Gateway. It will also reduce by 40 million km a year the distance travelled by heavy goods vehicles on UK roads. The UK needs such investment, but we must also create the right sort of environment for it, including a better planning system. That means implementing the reforms set out in the Bill.
There have been excellent debates throughout the Commons stagesnot least in Committeeon the role of the infrastructure planning commission, its powers and accountability, the role of the national policy statements in providing a clear policy framework for IPC decisions, the type and size of projects that should be captured in the new regime and the accessibility of the new regime to the public. Those debates continued in the other place and the Bill has been much strengthened by amendments, many of them set out in this group.
Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North) (Lab): Will my right hon. Friend put on the record the concerns that have been raised about clause 157? I speak as an honorary vice-president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Will he confirm that he will consult that body, and that what is being proposed will not undermine the whole issue in respect of statutory nuisance and the preventive measures that can be taken?
John Healey: My hon. Friend has a long-standing interest in these questions and good working links with environmental health officers. I think that I can give her those reassurances, although she would probably find it more useful if I set them out in detail, to respond to her concern in the light of amendments that have been made. I undertake to do so.
I turn to the most significant issues, particularly in respect of the strengthening of the Bill in the other place. I shall start with parliamentary scrutiny. Through parliamentary scrutiny and especially through national
policy statements, Ministers will continue to take the big decisions. Those will be visible and at the front of the process rather than at the back end, as is the case under the current system. Once the national policy statement is in place, it will set the principal framework for any IPC decisions on particular applications.
If the national policy statements are to function effectively, they must be authoritative and strong. That is why we are committed to ensuring that they are thoroughly tested through public consultation and through a new system of parliamentary scrutiny that we have developed in discussion with the Chairs of the relevant Select Committees. Lords amendment No. 7 will strengthen the role of the other place in the scrutiny of national policy statements. The amendment extends the requirement that the Secretary of State is required to lay before Parliament a statement setting out her response to a Committee of this House or of either House.
I turn now to climate change, a subject of strong debate throughout this Houses scrutiny of the Bill. A number of my hon. Friends have strongly championed a strengthening of the provisionsnot least my hon. Friends the Members for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) and for Stroud (Mr. Drew), who are the principal advocates of an amendment to Lords amendment No. 8. If I explain to my hon. Friends how we have strengthened the Bill through amendments in the Lords, perhaps that will give the proper context and explain some of the problems that I envisage with their amendment (a).
Lords amendment No. 8 looks to alter the current duty in relation to sustainable development which requires the Secretary of State to draw up or review national policy statements with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. Let me explain what is meant by that. The concept of sustainable development sits at the heart of planning. It catches the range of our economic, social and environment objectives and ensures that we focus on developing our country in a way that is sustainable in the long term and protects the needs of future generations as well as the current one.
Achieving such sustainable development will require Ministers to address climate change. We must also address issues such as landscape, biodiversity and natural resources and integrate them in a sensible and balanced way that allows at the same time consideration of certain social and economic concerns. In that way, the policy will bring those elements together. We have debated the concept of sustainable development a number of times during the passage of the Bill and we believe that it should be the guiding principle for Ministers as they prepare the national policy statements. That is why clause 10 attaches such importance to it.
We recognise, however, that as we have debated the various stages of the Bill, Members of this House and the other place have expressed a strong desire to put something more explicit in the Bill to reflect the importance of climate change. That argument has been strongly led by my hon. Friends the Members for Pudsey and for Stroud, as well as by my hon. Friend the Member for Sherwood (Paddy Tipping), who is not in his place at the moment. We therefore made amendments to the Bill in the other place. However, we have been conscious of the need not to unbalance the principle of sustainable development by elevating the consideration of climate
change and design to such a degree that other considerations would be relatively marginalisedsuch as jobs and investment, health, a just society and other environmental factors such as the protection of biodiversity or the natural environment.
The formulation that we have set out in Lords amendment No. 8 requires the Secretary of State to have regard in particular to the desirability of adapting to and mitigating climate change. Making it a statutory requirement to have regard to something that is desirable is a recognised concept in planning, and it is an approach that has been the subject of several cases. It clarifiesI hope that this will give my hon. Friends some reassurancethe fact that requiring decision makers to have particular regard to the desirability of an objective works as a way of putting something first and foremost in the decision makers mind, while not preventing them from considering other important matters. Where a desirable objective is met by a particular proposal, that must be a major point in its favour, but it does not necessarily rule out having regard to other factors.
We now have in the Bill a clear three-stage process. First, Ministers must, as part of drawing up the national policy statements with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development, have particular regard to the desirability of mitigating and adapting to climate change. That is a strengthening of the Bill since this House last debated it. Secondly, Ministers will thoroughly assess what the impact of the policy is on carbon emissions and other factors affecting climate change and, where necessary, adjust the policy in light of this. Thirdly, Ministers must report on what they have done and why, in the context of wider climate change policy, including the Climate Change Bill.
My concerns about my hon. Friends proposition are twofold. First, particularly as we strengthen the Bill in the ways that I have described, their amendment could in practice elevate climate change and design considerations over all other considerations of sustainable development, and in doing so might pre-empt a decision about what in any particular case amounts to sustainable development. Secondly, the introduction of the phrase due regard to the need to raises a problem, because it is untested and it is not exactly clear what it means or what effect it would have in practice. That differs from the approach that we have taken in Lords amendment No. 8.
Let me turn to the issue of design. In the other place, there was a strong mood and move towards making amendments to ensure that the new regime gave sufficient weight to the need for infrastructure to be well designed. Lords amendment No. 1 therefore requires that every national policy statement will set out criteria for design that must be taken into account in the development to which the policy statement relates. That means that in every national policy statement Ministers should set out clear expectations that infrastructure projects would be well designed and provide a framework against which proposals could be assessed.
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