Session 2010-11
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General Committee Debates
Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Draft Marine Licensing (Licence Application Appeals) Regulations 2011
Draft Marine Licensing (Notices
Appeals) Regulations 2011

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chair: Martin Caton 

Bain, Mr William (Glasgow North East) (Lab) 

Benyon, Richard (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)  

Goodwill, Mr Robert (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con) 

Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds North East) (Lab) 

Hart, Simon (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) (Con) 

Jones, Graham (Hyndburn) (Lab) 

Kawczynski, Daniel (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con) 

Lammy, Mr David (Tottenham) (Lab) 

Leech, Mr John (Manchester, Withington) (LD) 

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian (Bridgwater and West Somerset) (Con) 

Love, Mr Andrew (Edmonton) (Lab/Co-op) 

Mowat, David (Warrington South) (Con) 

Paisley, Ian (North Antrim) (DUP) 

Patel, Priti (Witham) (Con) 

Uppal, Paul (Wolverhampton South West) (Con) 

Vaz, Valerie (Walsall South) (Lab) 

Ward, Mr David (Bradford East) (LD) 

Wicks, Malcolm (Croydon North) (Lab) 

Alison Groves, Committee Clerk

† attended the Committee

The following also attended ( Standing Order No. 118(2) ) :

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey (Coventry North West) (Lab) 

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Third Delegated Legislation Committee 

Monday 7 March 2011  

[Martin Caton in the Chair] 

Draft Marine Licensing (Licence Application Appeals) Regulations 2011 

4.30 pm 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon):  I beg to move, 

That the Committee has considered the draft Marine Licensing (Licence Application Appeals) Regulations 2011. 

The Chair:  With this it will be convenient to consider the draft Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) Regulations 2011. 

Richard Benyon:  It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Caton. 

The regulations form part of the new streamlined and transparent marine licensing system that is to be introduced in April under part 4 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, which was broadly welcomed by all parties when it was debated in the House. The new system replaces two out-of-date and overlapping pieces of primary legislation: part II of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 and part II of the Coast Protection Act 1949. A single system will be established for approving most projects at sea. The Marine Management Organisation, which was established in April 2010, will carry out most of the Secretary of State’s licensing and enforcement functions. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change will license oil and gas-related activities. 

One feature of a modern, more transparent and accountable licensing system is the right to challenge a decision made by a regulator. The regulations establish two rights of appeal. The draft Marine Licensing (Licence Application Appeals) Regulations 2011 are made under section 73 of the 2009 Act. They allow an applicant to appeal within six months of a decision being made on their marine licence application to an independent body. Such appeals will be handled by the Planning Inspectorate. The regulations set out what an applicant must do to appeal against a decision, as well as the responsibilities of the licensing authority and the appeals body. The Planning Inspectorate will decide whether the appeal is to be considered by means of written representations, a hearing or an inquiry, based on the complexity of the case. The rules that apply to each process are set out in the regulations and have been aligned in general with those of similar regulatory regimes. 

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The draft Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) Regulations 2011 are made under section 108 of the 2009 Act. The Act makes provision for a range of notices to enable a more proportionate approach to enforcement in the marine environment. That is designed to bring people into compliance. The regulations set out a right of appeal against certain notices to the independent first-tier tribunal, which was set up under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 specifically to hear civil enforcement appeals. The instrument sets out the powers of the tribunal in relation to appeals against notices, as well as the notices that can be appealed. Appeals will follow the rules and procedures of the first-tier tribunal general regulatory chamber, which are set out in secondary legislation that came into force in 2009. 

The Government consulted on both sets of regulations during the summer of 2010. Respondents broadly welcomed the introduction of both appeals mechanisms and the detailed proposals. The Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are licensing authorities under part 4 of the 2009 Act and are each making their own regulations under sections 73 and 108 of it. 

I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will agree that the regulations provide the right level of transparency and accountability, which the public have come to expect from modern regulators, and that they will join me in supporting them. 

4.34 pm 

Mr William Bain (Glasgow North East) (Lab):  It is a pleasure to serve under you in Committee for the first time, Mr Caton. 

The Opposition strongly support the Marine and Coastal Act 2009; indeed, we introduced it while we were in government. The Act established the Marine Management Organisation and a more holistic approach to marine planning, guided by the high-level marine objectives. We agree that the MMO is the most suitable enforcement agency for marine licensing and that it must have the ability to impose sanctions, including fines for non-compliance and the proposed fixed monetary penalties and variable monetary penalties. There should also be a suitable system for the resolution of any appeals against such notices and others. 

On the draft Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) Regulations 2011, we note that the results of the consultation process showed support for the principle of the right to appeal to the first-tier tribunal. We note from the impact assessment that the assumptions underpinning these reforms will be tested by a review to be conducted two years after the introduction of the system of new monetary penalties and notices. We believe that that is a suitable period in which to conduct such a review. 

We believe that the draft Marine Licensing (Licence Application Appeals) Regulations 2011 comply with the Hampton recommendations on taking unnecessary matters out the courts. The provisions in the draft regulations are adequate. We strongly supported the 2009 Act and there is no reason to oppose the passage of both sets of draft regulations.

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4.36 pm 

Richard Benyon:  I am grateful to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East for his support and I welcome the continuing cross-party support for the legislation, even though our positions may be reversed from when the Bill that became the 2009 Act was being considered. The industry will support the regulations, which offer clarity and are deregulatory, and I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his helpful support. 

Question put and agreed to.  

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Draft Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) Regulations 2011


That the Committee has considered the draft Marine Licensing (Notices Appeals) Regulations 2011.—(Richard Benyon.)  

4.37 pm 

Committee rose.