Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 141:

Page 49, line 24, at end insert ("and
(d) to any person who appears to the Secretary of State to be in occupation of the special site.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Viscount Ullswater moved Amendment No. 141A:

Page 49, leave out lines 29 to 31 and insert:
("(a) serious harm is being, or might be, caused, or
(b) serious pollution of controlled waters is being, or is likely to be, caused.").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment with Amendment No. 128C. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 141B not moved.]

7 Mar 1995 : Column 170

Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 141C:

Page 49, line 43, at end insert ("shall, to the extent that it appears practicable to it to do so, consult the owner and occupier of the site and every person who appears to that authority to be, or who in its opinion might be considered to be, an "appropriate person" in relation to the site within the meaning of section 78E below, and").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 141C, it might be for the convenience of the House if we were to discuss also Amendment No. 141D, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Coleraine, and Amendment No. 144E which stands in my name.

In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Northbourne, moved an amendment in very similar terms to this, but which would have made the consultation optional. The Minister confirmed that he saw it as good practice that the enforcing authority should consult those concerned with the sites in the course of drawing up a remediation statement or a remediation notice.

From the point of view of those who might have to carry out the work, and the occupiers of the site—the use of which will undoubtedly be affected—such consultation is not just a matter of good practice but is essential, and it should appear on the face of the Bill. My amendment provides for such consultation.

Amendment No. 141C relates to the drawing up of remediation statements. It makes it obligatory for the authority to consult all the parties who, in its estimation, are likely to be involved. The same applies to Amendment No. 144E, which deals with the remediation notice.

In each case, the duty is qualified by a reference to practicability. Of course it might not be possible to trace all the parties who should be notified or consulted in these cases—and it may be that the urgency of a situation would require the authority to act without much delay—but, nevertheless, where it can be done it should be done. I feel that the obligation should appear on the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

Lord Coleraine: My Lords, I shall speak briefly to Amendment No. 141D, which is in my name, and which broadly supplements the amendments to which my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding has spoken.

My amendment would go a stage further and provide that, except in emergencies, the enforcing authority should supply a draft of the remediation statement to the appropriate person so that that person can comment before the statement is made final. This is important because, apart from the reasons that my noble friend has given, the making of a remediation statement will be a matter which appears on the public register, and may have serious implications as to the value of the relevant land.

I certainly support all that my noble friend has said, and hope that his amendment will find favour with my noble friend the Minister.

The Earl of Kinnoull: My Lords, I too support the amendment. It strikes me that if a notice is served on the wrong person, enormous damage could be done, as my noble friend has said, and it would seem against

7 Mar 1995 : Column 171

justice that that should happen. I am sure that the appropriate authority would not wish that to happen. The Bill should contain a duty to that effect.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, dealing with my noble friend Lord Kinnoull's concern about whether the wrong person could be involved, there is an opportunity for that person to appeal to the Secretary of State under the meaning of "the appropriate person", which can be found in new Section 78E.

Amendments Nos. 141C and 144E, in the name of my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding, and Amendment No. 141D, in the name of my noble friend Lord Coleraine, all seek to introduce statutory requirements for consultation with interested parties before any regulatory action can be taken by enforcing authorities under these powers.

Consultation with those potentially affected by regulatory requirements should, at the very least, be a matter of professional good practice. I think similar words were quoted by my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding from my remarks at Committee stage. This would be true if for no other reason than that it is much more likely that any particular remediation requirements set by the enforcing authority will be accepted as "reasonable" if consultation has taken place.

But these amendments raise two particular questions. The first relates to the role of the "remediation statement"—required only for closed landfill sites—in the overall process set out in these provisions. This statement does not, of itself, require anyone to do anything by way of remediation. That is the role of the remediation notice. The statement is intended to act as a form of management statement, setting out in a published form what the enforcing authority sees as needing to be done on a particular site. It is not intended that the statement should go into great detail, but it could also cover questions of longer-term monitoring and control which might not be able to be specifically required in a remediation notice. The statement is intended to form a part of the process of arriving at the terms of the remediation notice, in particular providing a vehicle for consultation between local authorities and the agency. In the light of those considerations, I suggest that it is at the remediation notice stage that any consultation should take place.

The second question concerns who should be consulted. My noble friend's amendment would set a very broad net, in that it would include anyone who might be considered to be an "appropriate person". That would seem far too wide, and would impose a considerable bureaucratic burden on enforcing authorities, particularly as most of the people who would have to be consulted would not, in the end, be involved with the remediation process.

I do not believe that anything would really be gained by introducing statutory requirements for consultation. They would serve largely to add to the bureaucracy, expense and time involved in securing the remediation of any contaminated land.

7 Mar 1995 : Column 172

Having said that, I hope that my noble friend will consider that statutory consultation is not required and that he will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for the evident care that he gave to considering my amendment. The last thing I want to do is add to the time, cost and bureaucracy of what is an already complex procedure. I hope that when he is giving guidance to the agency, he will consider that one of the paragraphs might deal with the desirability, as a matter of good practice, of consulting the people who will obviously be involved. If he can do that, that would meet the case, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 141D not moved.]

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 142:

Page 50, line 4, after ("any") insert ("land as likely to be").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the amendment is intended to assist in relation to land which may be contaminated. The intention is to break out of the difficulty of not being able to identify land which is contaminated without the considerable expense of sinking bore holes, and so on.

Local authorities are required by the Bill to inspect their areas from time to time, to identify contaminated land—the closed landfill sites—and other areas which are candidates for designation as special sites. If they do so identify contaminated land, they then must serve a remediation notice which can specify the works needed to mitigate the effects of the contamination or to restore the land to its former condition.

However, as stated in Committee, the procedure for the service of remediation notices makes the assumption that the local authority knows in advance that the land is contaminated. It does not allow for the case where, quite clearly, the business that has been carried on at a particular site is inherently polluting or contaminating—for instance, where certain types of car breaking business or other historical uses by industry make it almost certain that land is contaminated. The amendment would obviate the need for the local authority to conduct tests or to sink bore holes, and so on, and would enable it to serve a remediation notice without first establishing absolutely that the land was contaminated.

The Minister, in reply in Committee, said that if an authority were to serve a remediation notice on scant or little evidence that the land was contaminated, then the notice could be subject to review. But the implication of what was said was that local authorities could in fact serve such a notice where it was likely that the land was contaminated. Therefore, the amendment is intended to provide statutory cover for such service of a remediation notice, so that appropriate remediation can be carried out where it is likely that the land is contaminated. I beg to move.

7 Mar 1995 : Column 173

6.30 p.m.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I moved an amendment at an earlier stage which was intended to require that contaminated land should be improved so as to be suitable for the intended use. My noble friend was not satisfied with that amendment. So I have now put down a new version which I hope he will find more acceptable. My point is that it is obviously desirable that there should be a demand and use for land which has been contaminated, and that a measure of improvement, making it suitable for the intended use, is better than no improvement at all. So I am rather hopeful that my noble friend will accept this version. If he does not, perhaps he will undertake to do better than I have been able to do.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page