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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I am grateful to the noble Earl for that long reply. I should like to read what he has said and consider it. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 3, leave out lines 23 and 24.
Page 7, line 18, leave out from ("land") to ("; or") in line 19.

The noble Lord said: This amendment and Amendment No. 71 with which it is grouped are designed to tease out from my noble friend the Minister the exact circumstances in which the somewhat draconian new powers of the Bill might be used to defend the natural heritage interest.

Amendment No. 84, with which those two amendments are grouped, seeks to exclude the use of helicopters for that purpose and the use of helicopters to drive deer into corrals for slaughter.

Amendment No. 26 therefore removes the words "whether directly or indirectly" deer are causing damage "to the natural heritage generally" in Clause 4, and more or less the same words from Clause 7 of the Bill, which authorises the commission to carry out certain acts. Those acts include the use of any vehicle

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    "to drive deer in order to take or kill them for the purposes of deer management".

That clause then goes on specifically to say that "deer management" does not include sporting activity, so presumably it does include the large-scale slaughters to which I have referred.

Lying at the back of these amendments is the strong suspicion that these violent clauses are not really needed to protect the natural heritage at all. If deer are on what I have called their normal range, or my noble friend the Minister has described as where they are normally resident, then any damage they may be doing to the natural heritage is something which builds up over a period of years and can be dealt with by Clause 5 of the Bill, to which there are few objections.

What I am asking my noble friend to do, for the record, is to explain why the natural heritage interest is required within the emergency powers of Clause 4 to deal with marauding deer, especially when he is trying to persuade me that no-one can say what a marauding deer really is. Secondly, can he explain why the ability to drive deer--and in this case, under Clause 7, on their normal range--with helicopters into corrals to kill them for the purposes--as the Bill so euphemistically puts it--of "deer management" is included, but yet the Bill goes on specifically to exclude any sporting activity? I imagine my noble friend will confirm that that means fairly substantial culling, if "massacre" is too emotive a word, in the Bill as drafted.

Those are my worries about the natural heritage interest being included in these clauses, and my worry as to the use to which the intention to use helicopters to drive them will clearly be put if the Bill goes ahead as drafted. I beg to move.

Lord Glenarthur: My noble friend will be aware that during the passage of the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Bill there was a very great deal of concern raised that the powers that that Bill introduced, coupled with anything that might emerge on deer could have very much the effect that my noble friend Lord Pearson has described. These really are matters which go to the heart of the concerns of a great many people about the way that the powers that are being introduced in the Bill could be used. I accept that in the totality of the commission's powers, including the responsibilities of individuals, there is a sense of gradation of what can be done to try to meet the concerns which at any time could arise. However, it seems to me that what is being authorised by the Bill could go much further, and in a way which is as yet improperly defined--my noble friend has given the example of the incomplete definition of precisely what marauding deer are in this respect--than any of us really feels at all comfortable with.

There is a duty embodied in the Bill to further the conservation. Yet it seems that, in the points we are considering now, that conservation looks a little weak when it does not sit easily with the idea that, for a particular circumstance to preserve the natural heritage in the ways that are described, somewhat draconian powers can be taken. I hope that my noble friend will

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take this very seriously indeed. I have grave concerns about it and will return to the question of helicopters in due course. I shall certainly have a few things to say then. At the moment, however, I am less than assured from all I have heard so far that we have this right.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Before my noble friend sits down, I am not sure that we do return to helicopters. This is our chance to deal with helicopters by excluding them from the vehicles which the commission may use to drive deer for deer management purposes, which are strictly unsporting.

Lord Glenarthur: I was hoping to come to it during the definition phase--under Clause 9--which was the point I was making. I certainly do agree with my noble friend that the idea of using helicopters in this respect is highly undesirable. I also wonder--I know that my noble friend the Minister has not yet covered it in any remarks he has made--whether some consultation would no doubt be taking place to establish whether or not this is a practice which could be endorsed by those who are more immediately concerned with helicopters in this way. I suppose I ought to declare an interest as chairman of the British Helicopter Advisory Board, which is the trade association for all the helicopter operators. I have to say that I have no advice from it on the subject but I wonder whether my noble friend has sought any advice as to the use of aircraft generally. Having said that, that does not detract from the fact that I deplore the possibility that they could be used in this way.

The Earl of Lindsay: The amendment and related amendments introduced by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch cover quite a lot of very important ground. Part of his concern is perhaps whether the natural heritage itself should be sufficient reason for the deer commission to exercise its stronger powers. We have looked at this very carefully before bringing it forward in the Bill and indeed we would not have brought it to this stage without sufficient consensus and without the recommendations of the Red Deer Commission itself.

Across society, there is a general understanding now that environmental matters are of increasing importance and are likely to become even more important as the years go by. They need to be handled in a sustainable manner which does not disregard the needs and interests of other land users and other interests; for instance, owners and occupiers. At the same time, the importance of the natural heritage and environment is now seen as being as important as any other factor and therefore justifying the focus of the deer commission when it is exercising either Clause 4 or Clause 5 powers.

There could be emergencies which, if I think hard enough, I could envisage where one might want to invoke a Section 6 power for reasons of natural heritage. It could be that there is an enclosed woodland which houses some feature of the natural heritage which is an important and significant feature, and it could be flora or fauna. Into that woodland at a later date deer manage to arrive and invade that area as marauding deer in exceptional circumstances. They therefore destroy the

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survival or prospects of whatever it is that was so important in the first place. They literally cause it serious damage. I have stressed in the past, and I stress it again, that unless serious damage can be substantiated, that that is the description of events, then there is no way that Section 6 powers can be invoked for the natural heritage.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am most grateful to my noble friend for giving way. Perhaps he would allow me to point out that he has just made precisely the same mistake that the Chief Executive of Scottish Natural Heritage made at our committee proceedings in Edinburgh. If my noble friend will direct himself to Clause 4, he will see that we have not objected to Clause 4 being used against marauding deer, whatever they may turn out to be, when they are causing serious damage to woodland. Clause 9 of the Bill as drafted says:

    "'woodland' means land on which trees are grown, whether or not commercially, and includes any such trees and any vegetation planted or growing naturally among such trees on that land".

I take the point that the noble Earl makes. There are amendments tabled to decide whether the woodland should be enclosed or unenclosed; whether the trees should have been planted; whether they should be mature woodlands or groups of mature trees and all the rest of it. The definition of "woodland" appears to be much too widely drafted to some of us and would, in fact, enable much more land than is intended to be covered by the Bill. But we are coming back to that.

Clause 4 as drafted allows marauding deer to be dealt with when they are,

    "causing serious damage to woodland, to agricultural production (including any crops or foodstuffs)".

It then goes on to talk about injury to what no doubt would become livestock and so forth, even when they are a danger to the public. My objection to this clause is the inclusion of the expression that those deer should be dealt with when they are causing damage,

    "whether directly or indirectly, to the natural heritage generally".

That is the point to which I ask my noble friend to address himself.

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