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Earl Peel: My Lords, I am somewhat confused because I think that the Minister gave an assurance that ground conditions and the vegetation on the land would be taken into consideration by the local authority when assessing whether it was appropriate to close an area because of fire risk. If he can assure us that authorities will take that into account, I do not understand why he does not accept the amendment. However, that is as may be.

I have no intention of dividing the House on the issue. I am encouraged by the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and by the fact that the Minister has said that he is prepared to look at the issue again in the light of what the noble Lord has said. Given those circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 24 [Nature conservation and heritage preservation]:

[Amendment No. 131 not moved.]

Baroness Byford moved Amendment No. 132:

("( ) the purpose of preventing erosion of any track across the land which is used by persons exercising the right granted under section 2(1), or for repairing any damage caused by erosion to any such track;").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in Committee the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, who is no longer in his place, raised his concerns that unlimited access may cause damage to sensitive areas. The Minister said that such damage would come under Clause 22, which is the land management clause. However, on reflection I am still uneasy as to whether that clause is adequately worded to cope with such circumstances.

Erosion needs to be tackled swiftly if major and costly repairs are to be avoided. I beg to move.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, government Amendment No. 134 is consequential on the formal change of name of English Nature in Clause 68. As we said in Committee, we have tabled an amendment to change the reference to the "Nature Conservancy Council for England" in Clause 24(6)(a)(i) to "English Nature", which is the name by

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which that body is generally known. That is consistent with the changes that have already been made to other parts of the Bill.

Amendment No. 132 would introduce a new criterion for the making of directions under Clause 24 for the purposes of preventing erosion of any track or for repairing damage caused by erosion to any such track. Perhaps I may offer some reassurance. Stopping or preventing further erosion may well be the purpose of a direction under Clause 24. In addition, if problems of erosion arise in particular areas, it will be open to those affected to seek restrictions on the right of access by means of directions under Clause 22 in order to secure the effective management of the land.

Those affected may also wish to seek agreement with access authorities under Chapter III of the Bill for the construction of a new means of access which, in conjunction with strategically placed notices or information points, could be used to guide walkers away from sites which a landowner believes are susceptible to erosion. Therefore, in practice Amendment No. 132 is unnecessary and I hope that the noble Baroness will not press her amendment.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her response. I am reassured by her words and, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 133 not moved.]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 134:

    Page 15, line 23, leave out ("the Nature Conservancy Council for England") and insert ("English Nature").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 25 [Directions by relevant authority: general]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 135:

    Page 15, line 35, at beginning insert--

("( ) Before giving a direction under section 22, 23 or 24 in relation to land in an area for which there is a local access forum so as to exclude or restrict access to the land--
(a) indefinitely, or
(b) during a period which exceeds, or may exceed, six months,
the relevant authority shall consult the local access forum.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 30 [Regulations relating to exclusion or restriction of access]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 136:

    Page 18, line 26, at end insert--

("(aa) as to the steps to be taken under section (Dogs on certain land)(1) and (2),").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 137 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Clause 31 [Guidance by countryside bodies to National Park authorities]:

[Amendment No. 138 not moved.]

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Clause 32 [Interpretation of Chapter III]:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 138A:

    Page 20, line 5, after ("land)") insert ("or on the land").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 138A, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 138B. These amendments relate to Chapter III and deal with means of access. They seek assurances that the definition of "means of access", in particular in relation to fences or hedges which bound land and items on the land, covers not only fences and hedges around the edge of a parcel of land but includes, for example, walls and fences which cross a particular parcel of land. The amendment simply seeks that assurance. I beg to move.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am happy to give the noble Baroness that assurance. Clause 32 as it stands covers means of access in relation to appropriate places within access land. Means of access includes an opening, gate or stile bounding the land or part of the land. The reference to "part of the land" means access from one part of access land to another and, therefore, in the noble Baroness's terms, within the access land. Therefore, that is already covered.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 138B not moved.]

Clause 35 [Provision of access by access authority in absence of agreement]:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 139:

    Page 21, line 26, after ("land") insert (", or to other access land,").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 139, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 140. These are minor amendments. Amendment No. 139 makes it clear that access authorities must serve a notice of intention to carry out works relating to a means of access in respect of any access land where the means of access is required to facilitate access to other access land. The Bill currently provides only that such a notice may be served to secure means of access to the access land in question.

Of course, such a notice may be issued only provided that the access authorities have sought, and have been unable to reach, an agreement with the owner or occupier regarding the means of access.

Amendment No. 140 fulfils a commitment made in Committee to provide that owners or occupiers may appeal against such notices on grounds that a different means of access should be provided. That proposal received support in Committee and, therefore, I hope that the amendments will be welcomed. I beg to move.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, our Amendment No. 139A is in the same group. This clause deals with the provision of access by the access authority where there is no agreement. We were concerned to ensure that the position between the introduction of the Bill and its coming into force is covered. In other words,

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one could look on this as a sort of anti-avoidance provision. I believe that the Bill was introduced into another place on 3rd March of this year, which is why that date is used in the amendment.

We are concerned, for example, that a landowner who in the past has had some simple means of access such as a makeshift bridge made up of a couple of planks, because of concern about danger to the public, rather than providing a more substantial bridge would simply remove it. While we welcome the clause and the amendments, we wish to cover the actions which may be taken by a worried, not necessarily malevolent, landowner in the position from now until this Bill is enforced.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, this amendment is unnecessary. Access authorities may take action where it appears to them that a means of access needs opening up. That would include a situation where a previous means of access has been removed, destroyed or has become dangerous. Therefore, that is covered by a combination of the Bill as it stands and the amendments which we have just moved.

In addition, as my amendments indicate, there must be an attempt to reach agreement with the landowners, and that is not fully reflected in the amendment. In any event, it is unnecessary.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 139A not moved.]

Clause 36 [Appeals relating to notices]:


Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 140:

    Clause 36, page 22, line 19, after ("elsewhere") insert (", or that a different means of access should be provided").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 38 [Powers of entry for purposes of Part I]:

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