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The noble Lord said: My Lords, you will recall that in Committee on 26 January I gave an undertaking that the Government would consider the amendments to this Bill moved by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, and currently standing part of it. I am pleased to confirm the Government's support for the intended
Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 5 and 6 amend the current references in the Bill to "conservancy authority" to read "conservation body". The term "nature conservancy authority" has not been used in legislation before to describe English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales. Also, the term "authority" does not accurately describe the function of those bodies. Amendment No. 3 corrects a mistaken reference to the "Countryside Commission of Wales". The body's proper name is the Countryside Council for Wales.
Finally, Amendment No. 4 is designed to bring consistency to the Bill. It requires a local authority or nature conservation body informing the Secretary of State that it wishes its objection to a harbour revision order made by the Secretary of State of his own motion to be referred to an inquiry or be heard by a person appointed by the Secretary of State to do so in writing. That will bring the procedure for objecting to harbour revision orders made by the Secretary of State on his own motion into line with the procedure in the Bill for objections to harbour revision orders where the application has been made by someone other than the Secretary of State. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Triesman for what he said about the amendments that I moved in Committee and that the Government have accepted them as a reasonable compromise. They were put down following extensive consultation. It is good to know that the Government now accept them on that basis.
In respect of these six amendments standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Triesman, I apologise for getting the wording wrong in five of them. I am grateful to the Government for getting it right and as they would like to see it. As regards Amendment No. 4, clearly it is good to state that objections must be in writing. Therefore, I support all the amendments, and I am very grateful to my noble friend.
Lord Greenway: My Lords, the amendments stem from an amendment tabled in Committee, which effectively gave the right of calling for a public inquiry to English Nature and the Countryside Council for Wales. I am sure that the Government are well aware that when an exception is made for one or two bodies, other bodies may get a bit upset. I rise merely to voice the concerns of the Royal Yachting Association, which feels that if this right has been given, a similar right should be given to, say, the Sports Council to cover concerns in that area.
The Royal Yachting Association has called for a public inquiry only twice in the past 10 years, which reflects its commitment to resolving issues through alternative means. As a yachtsman, the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, will no doubt appreciate these concerns. I merely mention this now as a marker perhaps for the Government to reflect on before we reach any further stage.
The noble Baroness said: In speaking to Amendment No. 1, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4. I believe that if this Bill is given a fair passage, my amendments will add to a Bill which currently is seriously flawed and certainly unworkable. That sets against the Government White Paper, financial instruments and government policy. In fact, the Bill is unnecessary.
Nevertheless, I shall speak to the amendments. Regarding Amendment No. 1, as currently worded the Bill singles out aviation and aviation emissions. I do not believe that that can be done. This morning, I was interested to read a press release issued by the Green Party of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, which refers to the fact that aviation is not included in the overall content of the Government's approach to emissions. I did not think that I would agree with the Green Party but I do. The Bill is flawed by not treating aviation emissions as part of the Government's overall policy on emissions. If we do not take them in the round, it is not possible to have a proper policy dealing with this aspect of environmental issues.
There is no doubt that for certain named airports in this country, the key cause of emissions pollution is not the aeroplanes, but the cars on the roads around the airport. Heathrow is a good example. That is one reason why it makes sense to look at the problems in the round.
Current global carbon dioxide emissions from aviation account for between 2 and 3 per cent of the total. The intergovernmental body, which is regarded as being very independent, estimates that the percentage will increase to around 6 per cent by 2050. If absolutely nothing is done about aviation emissionsthe industry feels that something should be done and that work should continue on technology to keep emissions downa gloomy forecast could be 14 per cent.
One of my criticisms of the Bill is that it deals only with the United Kingdom. In the UK, road transport accounts for around 21 per cent of all emissions, and power stations for 26 per cent. Aviation accounts for 0.5 per cent. That is the nature of the problem and that is why I believe that my Amendment No. 1 would add to the Bill by looking at emissions in the round, within the Government's general environmental approach.
On Amendment No. 2, the Bill as drafted sets quite arbitrary targets, but does not prescribe a mechanism for assessing the effectiveness of any measures needed to meet those targets. That is why that amendment is needed.
The amendment's second paragraph requires the Secretary of State to have regard to the impact of this Bill on "employment and investment". That is crucial. An enormous number of UK jobs depend on aviation, well over 300,000 directly and up to half a million indirectly. However the impact is assessed, it must consider in the round the impact on employment and potential inward UK investment.
The amendment's third paragraph requires the Secretary of State also to have regard to how the measures would impact on "consumers and business". Again, the Bill covers only the UK. We must consider consumer choice. People are using aviation in a way that ensures that they do not use road and other forms of transport such as trains any more than necessary. The more that aviation is restricted, and the fewer places available to fly from, the more we will impact on the environment.
We have to assess the Bill's impact on business. The UK has the highest inward investment record of any country in Europe. Any company that has successfully brought inward investment into the UK will cite access and distribution facilities as one of its top three reasons for coming here, apart from the language. If we did not have such broad aviation access, business would not have invested as it has.
Moreover, this is an island. We are not in a block like the rest of Europe, where a train can travel from France all the way across Europe. An alternative method of distribution is available there. Aviation is very important to us as a country.
We cannot have a railway track from one end of Europe to the other. It is no use arguing that we have the Eurotunnel. Should all those in the UK who want to travel to Europe have to travel through that tunnel? That would add to environmental damage in the south-east. It is important to look at the Bill's impact on the UK aviation industry.
Amendment No. 3 seeks to leave out "local authorities". That is not because I wish to exclude local authoritiesI do notbut, as it is worded at the moment, the Bill is too restrictive; we need to consider wider communities. If the Bill went through unchanged, it would cut across the arrangements that many airports in the United Kingdom have already. My own cityManchesterhas very good arrangements with local residents groups, as well as with the structured local authority, on issues such as noise and other factors. These groups have a right for their views to be heard and to be taken into account.
So replacing "local authorities" with "communities" is not intended to eliminate local authorities from the consultations but to extend them to people within their areas. Gatwick has similar arrangements. Heathrow, probably the most well known airport, and various companies within BAincluding BAA, which runs Heathrowhave ongoing arrangements with resident groups there.
Amendment No. 4 seeks to remove the narrow reference to "air users". I do not see how you can discuss a Bill and require measures which do not include representations from the industry it directly affects. At the moment there is no reference to the industry in the Bill. My amendment seeks to bring in the UK air transport industry. Again, that would not exclude aviation users, but it would mean that the industry would have a right to a place at the table when issues affecting the industry are being discussed. In my view, to exclude the industry would not only be wrong but perverse.