Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Marlesford moved, as an amendment to Amendment No. 239, Amendment No. 239A:

Line 13, at end insert:
("(da) such non-statutory bodies appearing to them to be representative of environmental interests;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am afraid that I was not very convinced by my noble friend's response because, quite frankly, while I welcome Amendment No. 239—and totally support what lies behind it—it strikes me as being a little odd to have in paragraphs (a) and (b) of that amendment two specific sub-groups which both represent non-public interests—for example, those,

as well as farmers and landowners. Of course, it is absolutely right that they should be included. But I imagine that it was a moment when Homer was nodding and that it was just a slip of the pen that resulted in non-statutory bodies representing environmental interests not being included. Indeed, it is so obvious that they should be that I hope my noble friend will assure me that, on reflection, he will not have difficulty in meeting the concern of such bodies as he has mentioned to have the right to be consulted under the statute just as, correctly, the farmers and landowners have that right. I beg to move, as an amendment to Amendment No. 239, Amendment No. 239A.

The Earl of Lytton: My Lords, I wish to say how much I appreciate the amendments tabled by the noble Viscount. They are very much a direct response to the concerns of a number of noble Lords. I thank him in particular for the item about the affirmative resolution procedure, which is something that I asked for in Committee. I am very grateful that he has included that provision.

As regards the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, in connection with Amendment No. 239A, I would offer the following advice to the Minister, "Try keeping them out!" That is all I can say at this juncture.

Lord Moran: My Lords, I wish to speak briefly in strong support of what the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, has said. I entirely agree with the inclusion of the bodies listed in Amendment No. 239. However, I believe that the importance of the non-governmental organisations concerned with environmental matters can hardly be exaggerated these days. They do an immense amount of work. I believe they should be consulted as of right and not just at the whim of the Government. What the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, said about that is entirely right.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I am sorry that my words did not find favour with my noble friend, but I can reassure him that those non-statutory environmental organisations will be consulted. I believe that paragraph (e) in my Amendment No. 239 gives those bodies—as the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, said—every right to come

9 Mar 1995 : Column 494

banging on our door. Certainly we would want to hear their views. I do not believe that it is necessarily right to specify them because I believe we have covered them on the face of the Bill in paragraph (e) without having to go into any more detail.

Lord Marlesford: My Lords, my noble friend has made a good argument as to why the bodies we are discussing should be in the clause, but he has not given any reason why they should not be included. Obviously I would not expect at this stage of the evening to test the opinion of the House, but I believe that the bodies I have referred to should be included in the Bill. I hope that, either at Third Reading or perhaps in another place, the logic of his position will be followed through in this harmless amendment. If a body asks to be included in the Bill and there is no reason why it should not be included, that seems to me a good reason to include it. I beg leave to withdraw, as an amendment to Amendment No. 239, Amendment No. 239A.

Amendment to the amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment No. 239 agreed to.

The Earl of Lytton had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 239B:

Page 87, line 22, at end insert:
("( ) Any regulations which may be made under this section shall provide for a right of appeal to the appropriate Ministers by any person refused consent to uproot or destroy a hedgerow.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, we have already discussed this matter. I shall read with care what the Minister has said. For the time being I shall not move this amendment or the following two amendments.

[Amendment No. 239B not moved.]

[Amendments No. 239C and 239D not moved.]

The Earl of Lytton moved Amendment No. 239E:

Page 87, line 22, at end insert:
("( ) The future management of any important hedgerows shall be secured through the provision of a management agreement.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I have disaggregated this amendment from the others because I felt it dealt with a quantifiably different matter. It is intended to probe the Government's intentions as to the manner in which important hedgerows are to be protected in practice. I am grateful to the Minister for what he has done in connection with Amendment No. 239 and the others grouped with it. However, Amendment No. 239E is intended to deal with one outstanding issue, and to ask whether those important hedgerows which attract a protection order will also attract the advice and assistance, including financial assistance, which will enable positive and good management to take place.

The noble Viscount has said that stewardship, environmentally sensitive areas and other such provisions will cover important hedgerows. I posed a question earlier as to whether those schemes could be accurately targeted on hedgerows alone. I am not sure that they can be. In Committee, and indeed today, we have heard a great deal about hedgerow loss. Poor management and the neglect of hedgerows are a major cause of a shift from full hedgerow status to relict hedgerow or other categories. I am informed that a mature, well-managed hedgerow is the best and most

9 Mar 1995 : Column 495

diverse habitat of all which declines—towards youth or towards age—where it is converted to woodland or rows of single trees. My whole purpose is to motivate people to take appropriate management action. I feel that the only way in which Clause 79 can operate in practice is by achieving this. Protection orders generate paperwork, but not a single hedgerow has ever been planted as a result of regulation alone. It requires people who are prepared to commit their time and resources. That goes well beyond orders issued by local authorities. I feel that management orders should cover both the methodology and financial assistance.

My amendment has industry-wide support from farmers and landowners. If accepted, it would be a signal to them that, far from conveying only disbenefits, hedgerow protection orders will have tangible positive benefits through some of the burdens being shouldered by the public agencies. I beg to move.

9.15 p.m.

Baroness Nicol: My Lords, I should like to put on record my support for the proposal that advice and financial assistance should be available to farmers or landowners who wish to protect important hedges. The noble Earl is quite right that one cannot place this obligation on them without some form of back-up. I hesitate to say that it should be a management agreement because I do not know enough about the various types of finance and advice that might be available. However, I believe that the principle is right.

Lord Monk Bretton: My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, again. It is no good trying to protect hedges if they cannot be maintained. That is the crux of the problem now. Those people who have done their best for the countryside in relation to hedgerows will not be able to continue without help. For those reasons I support the amendment.

The countryside stewardship scheme has been mentioned. However, it is not available everywhere. I seem to remember inquiring about it and finding that it was not available to me.

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I believe that the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, may be under a misapprehension because, not only in this amendment but in relation to previous amendments, he has spoken as if the scheme would take the form of a hedgerow protection order placed on hedgerows. The scheme that we shall bring forward is not on the face of the Bill. It will evolve through the process of consultation. Therefore, the noble Earl is anticipating the result and trying to construct a scheme that would fit in with what he expects.

The Government provide for the management of important hedgerows using a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, we promote the planting and management of hedgerows through a range of incentives, including countryside stewardship, which now incorporates the hedgerow incentive scheme launched by the present Government in 1992, and environmentally sensitive areas. On the other hand, we are committed to

9 Mar 1995 : Column 496

introducing controls over the removal of the most important hedgerows for which no amount of replanting can substitute.

There is no direct link between the two elements, as my noble friend Lord Marlesford indicated in a debate on a previous amendment. Nor do we believe that there should be such a link. We have no plans to place requirements on land managers to maintain hedgerows which may be protected under the regulations, but in so far as they satisfy the eligibility requirements of available grant schemes land managers will be entitled to seek assistance for management works. Refusal of a proposal to remove a hedgerow will not automatically trigger entitlement to such help.

I understand entirely the motive behind the noble Earl's amendment. However, perhaps he should wait to see what happens in relation to the scheme and what emerges at the end of the consultation process. On that basis, I hope that the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page