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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I think that the noble Lord may be taking us forward, in part, to the rather lengthy series of groupings that deal with dogs, which we will discuss later. However, the noble Lord's amendment would exclude walkers with or without dogs. For that reason, I would resist it. Plenty of perfectly viable access countryside comprising land of more or less than 10 hectares already exists. Walkers on such land coexist with grazing livestock. It would be inappropriate to exclude all of that land from walkers. I therefore could not accept the amendment.

The issue of walkers with dogs raises different and more widespread concerns. The Government have already ensured that the Bill contains certain restrictions in relation to dogs. These require walkers to keep dogs on leads while on access land during March to July and at all times in the vicinity of livestock. The phrase "in the vicinity" would certainly include within a field of 10 hectares. Perhaps we should have that discussion when we discuss the amendments relating to dogs. However, because this amendment is more widely drawn, I would ask the noble Lord not to pursue it.

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I shall read carefully his response in Hansard. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 13B not moved.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 14:

("9A. Land habitually used for the training of racehorses.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 17. These government amendments recognise the special needs of the racehorse training industry.

We accept that there are real concerns about how best to reconcile the new right of access with the training of racehorses on land which qualifies as access land. We have listened to the debates in this House and to the industry. As a result, we have brought forward these amendments in order to target action where it is needed.

I believe that there is common ground between the Government and the racing industry that the exclusion of access from training gallops should not be more than is required to ensure the safety of employees, their horses and the public. These amendments will therefore provide for access to be excepted from land used for training racehorses between the hours of sunrise and midday and at other times when the land is being used for that purpose. I beg to move.

The Earl of Carnarvon: My Lords, I should declare an interest as an owner and breeder of racehorses. The

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Government have listened carefully to the views of the racing interests as regards access to these areas. I am extremely grateful to the Minister and his advisers for the helpful way in which they have looked at this problem and come forward with their amendments.

We were considering an extremely dangerous situation where the public at large might quite innocently walk across land used for racehorses in the middle of an exercise during the early hours of the morning. Someone could easily have met with serious injury. I believe that the amendment will be helpful to trainers, their staff, riders and jockeys.

I believe that it may interest noble Lords to know of the statistics at Newmarket, supplied by the Jockey Club land agent. Some 24 hospitalised cases are reported every year, along with one death--and those incidents do not in any way involve the general public. If someone should stand up after sleeping behind a bush just as horses--in particular two year-olds--walked by, the horses would scatter. Serious damage would probably be incurred by the horses but, more importantly, serious injury could easily be caused to the riders.

What the Government have suggested is excellent and will be welcomed by all sections of the racing industry.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, my name was added to the amendment tabled in Committee which has led to this most welcome pair of government amendments. Perhaps I may add my thanks. This move will give a great many people pleasure and will probably save many lives.

Perhaps I may ask the Minister a question: are point-to-point courses to be covered by the same conditions that are to be applied to racecourses and gallops?

Baroness Byford: My Lords, from these Benches I wish to express my thanks to the Minister for tabling these two amendments. I should like in particular to compliment the Minister on including sub-paragraph (b) to new Paragraph 13 in Amendment No. 17. As noble Lords know, some training takes place in the morning, while some takes place in the afternoon. The Government have recognised this and have offered the required flexibility. That is much appreciated.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I apologise that I did not intervene before my noble friend rose to speak. I also attended the meeting arranged by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to consider this subject. I appreciated enormously the sensitivity with which he listened to the discussions.

Perhaps I may ask a question. My contact on this subject is a trainer with gallops in the Lambourn area. He told me that severe problems can arise if bottles or cans are dropped on the gallops because they can hurt the horses very badly. Does the Minister have it in mind to ensure that any code of practice or guidance which is issued to walkers will point out the importance to the welfare of horses of not dropping litter in areas which are used as gallops?

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5.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, let me to try to respond, with thanks, to the comments that have been made.

So far as concerns point-to-point meetings, my understanding is that if such a meeting is to be held on access land, an application would be made for the closure of that land for that purpose during the period that the point-to-point is taking place.

Of course, not all training gallops will be mapped as open country for the purpose of right of access. I would guess that most gallops would take place out of open country because their management and setting would not qualify them to be mapped as mountain, moor, heath or down. We have made this provision for the minority which fall into that category.

As to litter, bottles and cans and so on are litter. The dropping of litter is an offence in many places, not only on access land. The same regulations will apply to access land as to other places.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Hardy of Wath moved Amendment No. 15:

    Page 63, line 24, at end insert--

(" . Land within a recognised nature reserve where public access could destroy or damage protected fauna or flora.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendment No.15 seeks to include in the list of excepted areas,

    "Land within a recognised nature reserve where public access could destroy or damage protected fauna or flora".

I do not wish to detain the House for long. Noble Lords on both sides of the House are aware of many of the arguments that could be advanced in support of the amendment. We have, for example, on frequent occasions referred to the problems in regard to ground-nesting birds and the way in which they can easily be disturbed and their breeding patterns ruined. It is true that many farmers and landowners take a sympathetic view towards the survival of these species--but not all. Sometimes it is desirable that birds should live and breed in a nature reserve.

It is even more important for plants. In a communication this morning from Plant Life--one of the plethora of conservation bodies--I was reminded that many counties in England have seen almost one species of wild plant disappear each year. Many noble Lords may think that is certainly the case in the arable areas of southern and eastern England, but in Cumbria, in the last century, at least 48 species of wild plants have gone.

The people who will enjoy the access provided in the Bill will not wish wantonly to trample or uproot such plants, but the plants could be endangered by their movement, especially if they are unaware of where the plants are. The difficulty is that if one had a rare plant and drew it to the attention of walkers, 99 per cent of them would recognise the importance of ensuring that that plant survived. But the other 1 per cent would recognise that, by its very rarity, it has value, and they would uproot it. Our experience with limestone pavements has shown that quite a lot of people have

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made a great deal of money by ravishing that important part of our natural heritage. Such people might decide that the uprooting of a rare wild plant was an equally profitable venture.

At the same time, however, people need to be able to see the rare birds and the rare plants. It would be therefore a good idea for the nature reserves to enjoy a degree of protection that allows them to steer and guide ramblers and show them, or let them see, where the rare plant or the rare bird may be. If there is no such protection, ramblers will be able to walk willy-nilly across nature reserves and perhaps more harm than good will be done.

I recognise that the Government are extremely committed to the causes of biological diversity and the survival of the species. Adding this provision to the Bill would strengthen the Government's reputation in that area.

I am not suggesting--the amendment does not suggest or require--that the whole of sometimes very extensive nature reserves are protected. But the part of a nature reserve which contains the nest of a rare bird or a rare species of flower should be protected. I do not say that rare species should be protected to the point where they cannot be seen. Those noble Lords who visited RSPB reserves in Scotland will have seen what can be done in this respect. The public are able to watch the osprey there because the reserve is organised in a way which enables them to do so. The provision in the amendment would encourage such opportunities.

I hope that the Minister will feel able to accept the amendment. If he is unable to do so, I hope that he will bring forward a version of the amendment which will provide this opportunity. Too many species--particularly flora--are now hanging on by the skin of their teeth. They need all the help that can be given if they are to survive. This seems to me to be a useful way of contributing to their survival. I beg to move.

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