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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I am grateful to the noble Earl for that. Of course, a fence which is down is no use at all--I entirely agree with him. I beg to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 78 and 79 not moved.]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 80:

Page 9, line 18, leave out from ("features") to end of line 19.

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 80 would seek to remove the words,

from the definition of natural heritage which is to be found in Clause 9 of the Bill. The definition at the moment reads:

    "'natural heritage' includes flora and fauna, geological and physiographical features and the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside".

It is those last words which this amendment would remove.

I have tabled this amendment to try to find out from my noble friend the Minister exactly why these words have been included in this part of the definition. We can all understand that natural heritage does include the flora and fauna and the geological and physiographical features, and of course the natural beauty is also quite obvious. But what does the "amenity of the countryside" mean in this respect? When one talks of the natural beauty, is it not as though some people would find the Highlands of Scotland extremely beautiful as they are now--more or less denuded of trees--while others might not find them beautiful unless the forest or scrub had been returned to it. That is why these words, and whether or not they are included in the definition of natural heritage, are quite important to our understanding of where the natural heritage interest may take us in this Bill, especially in view of all the conversations we have had about including natural heritage or not in Clause 4 of the Bill.

It is a very simple amendment. I should like my noble friend the Minister to explain why particularly the words the "amenity of the countryside" are included under the natural heritage. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch for explaining Amendment No. 80. The interpretation of natural

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heritage is based on an Act which he knows well--the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991. Broadly, we see the same definition as used in that Act as being the most useful definition to have in this Bill. We therefore saw no deliberate reason to start amending that definition which has become well known and respected.

For the most part, the Red Deer Commission's interest in the natural heritage will be concerned with the flora, the habitat and the fauna that rely on that flora and habitat. Therefore, in terms of the serious damage which is mentioned in Clause 4 and Clause 5, the deer commission will tend to look at serious damage to habitat and to flora. However, it is not impossible that other parts of the definition used in the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991 could in extreme circumstances be useful for the purposes of the deer commission; it could be that the natural beauty of an area is so damaged by deer that the deer commission feels it ought to promote some of its powers within the Bill.

It could be that the geology, or conceivably some other aspect of that definition, is for some reason compromised by the unusual damage done by deer. We see that as unlikely but we have to acknowledge that it is not impossible. Because of the acceptability, as it were, of that definition in 1991 and its broad suitability to this Bill, we have decided that this is the best definition.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Can I press my noble friend on the word "amenity"?

The Earl of Lindsay: Yes. Once again we are talking about some unusual circumstances, but it could be that access to the countryside enjoyed in a certain place is for some reason subject to serious damage by the deer in that place. We could be talking about the way footpaths are, or are not, maintained because of the damage that deer are doing. It is because of the importance of the amenity and access side of the Scottish countryside that we do not want specifically to exclude them from the definition of natural heritage in the Bill.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am grateful to my noble friend. I recognise the description of the natural heritage from the 1991 SNH Act. I think there was general agreement at the time that no one understood it then; I am not sure that I am any nearer to understanding it now. It is true that the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside are expressions which one would expect to find in the phrase "natural heritage" when debating a Bill or drawing up an Act to bring Scottish Natural Heritage into being. Those aspects were, and are, very much part of its remit. I am a little bemused to see them in this Bill, and I cannot say that I am immensely informed by what my noble friend said. However, I thank him for his courtesy and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 81 and 82 not moved.]

The Earl of Lindsay moved Amendment No. 83:

Page 9, line 30, at end insert--

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(""species" includes any hybrid of different species of deer;").

The noble Earl said: I spoke to Amendment No. 83 when moving Amendment No. 49 on close seasons. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 84 and 85 not moved.]

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy moved Amendment No. 86:

Page 9, line 32, leave out ("are grown") and insert ("have been planted").

The noble Lady said: With regard to the definition of woodland, the phrase "trees are grown" seems to me a little ambiguous. It suggests that the trees have been planted, but it does not seem to me very clear. If it is intended to refer to self-seeded trees perhaps the phrase should be "trees have grown" or "trees are growing". We would prefer the definition "have been planted". The substitution of

    "mature woodlands or groups of mature trees",

is intended to make it clear that it is not just young plantations that are referred to. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful to the noble Lady for moving Amendments Nos. 86 to 88 and explaining them. It has been suggested that the definition of "woodland" in Clause 9 needs amending to ensure that the definition focuses on mature woodland and that areas of moorland where vestigial trees are present are excluded. In practice, this is what the definition implies. The phrase "trees are grown" implies a deliberate act of growing trees rather than simply the presence of trees or seeds. It would not be right to limit the definition to places where trees have been planted or mature woods exist, as has been suggested, since the modern concept of forestry as applied by the Forestry Commission includes woods that are regenerating as well as planted and which may be beside mature woodlands as well as a part of them. Although the regeneration of natural woodland is increasingly popular, it still comprises a fairly small part of our overall woodland policy. Nevertheless, it is a very important part. Therefore, we must recognise that regeneration is a legitimate woodland and forestry activity as much as planted trees in the orthodox sense.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Before my noble friend sits down, I referred earlier to land where trees clearly exist although they are very small, perhaps very young, often only two or three inches high. Particularly rowan trees and silver birch survive very well in those circumstances. But at a casual glance one would take the land to be moorland, and it is only when looks at it closely that one sees that there are trees there. If that land is then fenced off the trees begin to grow because the sheep and perhaps the deer are no longer grazing the ground in question. Can my noble friend give an assurance that the land to which I have just referred is not covered by this definition and therefore does not need to cause me worry under Clause 4 of the Bill?

The Earl of Lindsay: The definition is driven by the deliberate act of growing, Therefore if there are trees a

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few inches high or even higher that are not deliberately being grown, they fall outside this definition. Therefore, on a grouse moor on Rannoch Moor or wherever, trees that are simply surviving just under browsing height, but are not the subject of deliberate husbandry, will not be part of this definition. If my noble friend puts a fence up around that area to exclude grazing, both by sheep and deer, and pursues policies which promote the growth of those trees, those trees are being grown, although my noble friend has not actually planted them.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am most grateful to my noble friend for that explanation, which clarifies what is on the face of the Bill. Does my noble friend wish to withdraw?

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his explanation and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 88 not moved.]

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Minor and consequential amendments]:

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