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Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I notice that he has just said that the Government's main sustainability belief is within their White Paper. That is fine but the White Paper will not be part of the Bill. We may not have another chance of a Bill like this for many years to come. I urge the Minister to reconsider because we would be very concerned at missing this opportunity. The amendment will not dilute the responsibilities that Ofgem is being given in the way that he thinks. I think that the opportunity to put a responsibility in law on the face of the Bill will be missed. I am slightly disappointed with his answer and I wonder whether he would like to indicate anywhere in the Bill where there is any reference to what we are trying to achieve with this amendment.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the answer is: not in relation to the powers of GEMA, which is what the amendment deals with and presumably why it is in this place. There is no other opportunity to debate that particular dimension, but throughout the Bill we have stressed sustainability and some of the objectives of the Bill relate directly to sustainability. The importance of the structure of regulation and intervention in this market is to ensure that we have a sustainable energy policy. However, the particular responsibilities of GEMA are primarily—sustainably—economic; not all the range of responsibilities comes under the heading of sustainable development.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I warmly thank noble Lords who have supported this amendment. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, for his long view and,

23 Mar 2004 : Column 605

with the length of his experience, for choosing to support this amendment. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, perhaps I wished that the Minister would say "Yes" to this amendment, but unlike her perhaps I was more pessimistic. Like the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, I searched hard for where to place this amendment; there is no obvious place because, contrary to the Minister's view, the Bill does not give us an opportunity to explore the overall framework of sustainable development. As such, I thought that this was probably as good a place as any to put the amendment.

The Government did produce an energy White Paper and they do have a policy on sustainable development, but GEMA is so influential in the implementation of that policy that its ability to interpret what sustainable development means in the market is critical. For all that the Minister said about what is in the Utilities Act being sufficient, we have learnt, for example from the NETA fiasco—whereby CHP was significantly depressed by the way Ofgem chose to interpret its powers under the Utilities Act—that this amendment is essential if we are not to see that situation happen again. For that reason I would like to test the opinion of the House.

3.43 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 171B) shall be agreed to?

*Their Lordships divided: Contents, 148; Not-Contents, 111.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Bowness, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chadlington, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chorley, L.
Cobbold, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Crathorne, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elles, B.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Fearn, L.
Ferrers, E.
Finlay of Llandaff, B.
Fowler, L.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greenway, L.
Hanham, B.
Hannay of Chiswick, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
Higgins, L.
Hooson, L.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hussey of North Bradley, L.
Hylton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
King of Bridgwater, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Laming, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Listowel, E.
Livsey of Talgarth, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar, C.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Palmer, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Plumb, L.
Rawlings, B.
Redesdale, L.
Rees-Mogg, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogan, L.
Roper, L. [Teller]
Rotherwick, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandwich, E.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L. [Teller]
Skelmersdale, L.
Slim, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Swinfen, L.
Tanlaw, L.
Taverne, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Ullswater, V.
Vinson, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walton of Detchant, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Amos, B. (Lord President of the Council)
Andrews, B.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bhatia, L.
Billingham, B.
Blood, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goudie, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grocott, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Haskins, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jones, L.
Jordan, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Ouseley, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Pendry, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Prys-Davies, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sheldon, L.
Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thornton, B.
Triesman, L. [Teller]
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Winston, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

[*The Tellers for the Contents reported 148 votes; the Clerks recorded 147 names.] Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

23 Mar 2004 : Column 607

3.54 p.m.

Clause 76 [Exploitation of areas outside the territorial sea for energy production]:

Lord Greenway moved Amendment No. 172:


    Page 59, line 20, at end insert—


"( ) No renewable energy zone shall be sited so that it restricts—
(a) any recognised maritime navigation channel, and
(b) any recognised approach to a port."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 172, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 184 which stands in my name and that of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins.

In Grand Committee, again in consort with the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, I moved an amendment regarding the safety of navigation in respect of the establishment of offshore wind farms. The amendment arose from concerns felt in the shipping and ports industries, including Trinity House which is responsible for marking our navigation lanes around the coast.

The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, who answered on that occasion, conceded that safety of navigation was a serious matter. I do not think that any of us would disagree with that. However, he nevertheless argued that the concerns expressed were already covered by existing legislation. Since then further meetings have taken place with the industries and the Government, as a result of which further amendments, to which I now speak, have been brought forward. I should say at the outset that the first amendment was originally tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, who I am pleased to see in his place. That was a procedural ploy as the noble Lord could not be here last night. Therefore the amendment appeared in my name. It is covered in the generality of what we are

23 Mar 2004 : Column 608

discussing in this grouping, but he will forgive me if I do not speak specifically to his amendment as I am sure he is quite capable of doing that himself.

Amendment No. 184, which would insert a new clause in the Bill, is designed to meet those concerns from the shipping and ports industries that still exist even after further discussions with the Government. The points covered in the amendment on which I seek assurances from the Government are as follows. The first is the question of consultation. The industries are very worried that they were not consulted early enough in the process of granting licences for offshore wind farms. They would like the Government to publish details of the most heavily used shipping routes for the assistance of would-be developers. They would also like the Government to negotiate possibly a memorandum of understanding on consultation with shipping and ports interests before any further sites are offered for tender.

The industries felt that they were not properly consulted under round one of the offshore wind sites licences. As a result certain sites were proposed such as the one off Cromer where three existing shipping lanes will have to be altered to accommodate a wind farm. The inshore route will become much more difficult. It is one that ships use when there are very strong winds from the west. The middle lane will be moved to go round the wind farm and that pushes it further out to sea and much closer to the third lane, thereby in my view increasing the risk of possible collision.

The industries consider that there is also a need for much more technical study to be carried out into the adverse effects of wind farms on shore and ship radar, radio and other electronic communications systems. An amendment tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, deals specifically with that subject. I shall leave it to him to fill in the details on that. Suffice to say that we should like the Government to give us an assurance that they will commission a study into the effect of wind farms on marine radar and radio communications systems, including the combination effects of these structures.

The industry would also like to see the use of traffic management tools to enable offshore renewable energy installations and shipping to coexist in safety. In Grand Committee I mentioned the use of shipping clearways that were used in the early days of the offshore oil industry. The Government have indicated that they already have the necessary tools to do this, but I should like an assurance from the Minister that any traffic management systems that may be introduced will be required to conform to international standards and that, as a direct result of the establishment of offshore renewable energy installations, they will be financed by the developers. Furthermore, the industry feels that there is a need for a common regime in territorial waters and the renewable energy zones. These are the zones extending beyond our territorial waters where offshore wind farms can be set up. We seek an assurance that the Government will, in practice, apply Article 60(7) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea when considering the establishment of installations in territorial waters, as well as the REZs. Finally, there is a need for a pragmatic approach in applying Article 60(7)

23 Mar 2004 : Column 609

of UNCLOS, and we seek assurance from the Government that any deviations that may be required of ships—I mentioned an instance earlier—will be kept to a minimum.

I wish to mention one further very important point. In Grand Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, mentioned the Transport and Works Act 1992 and the difficulties involved with that. Industries are seeking an assurance from the Government that they will give full consideration to issues of safety of navigation before installations are consented to, both under the Transport and Works Act and the Coast Protection Act 1949. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, made great play of the Coast Protection Act in his remarks in Grand Committee, but there is another avenue for would-be developers to follow: the Transport and Works Act, which does not require them to look at the interests of safety of navigation. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, will expand on that as well.

It is worth mentioning what other countries are doing in respect of this. Denmark, Germany and Holland are taking their responsibilities for the safety of navigation very seriously and have commissioned studies. Indeed, I was reading about one in Lloyd's List, the shipping newspaper, only this morning, whereby a company has been taken on by the German navigation authorities to put a test structure on one of their proposed wind farm sites out in the North Sea, to monitor the density of shipping movements. Our Government should be doing that. It is what I might describe as a precautionary approach. It seems to me that the Government are hell-bent on rushing forward to meet their commitments of 10 per cent renewable energy by 2010, whereas other countries are taking a more careful approach and are looking into aspects such as the safety of navigation.

On the precautionary matter, there is the suggestion that back in 1986, when the North Sea oil and gas development was going on, it was UK practice to avoid licensing not only inside traffic separation schemes but also within 10 miles of them, in case ships went off course. We all know that ships do go off course; ships break down; ships—it is widespread knowledge—are run by officers whose standards are not what they were 15 or 20 years ago. There have been quite a number of incidents where ships have run into well-known structures. In the old days, for instance, they were forever clouting the odd light-vessel in the Thames approaches and the Channel. We had the incident of the Norwegian car carrier, the "Tricolor", which went down just over a year ago after a collision in the North Sea. Shortly after that, at least three ships ran straight onto that wreck. Even when it was properly buoyed and permanently patrolled by ships, one ship a week ran through that exclusion zone. That says a lot about modern standards of navigation, and thereby hangs the worry. It would take only one incident of a ship—through collision, or whatever—running into one of these wind farms, perhaps catching fire, causing widespread pollution, to cause a huge furore in the national press and everywhere. I do think that the whole aspect of the safety of navigation is something we should look at very carefully indeed.

23 Mar 2004 : Column 610

I hope that the noble Lord who is to reply will be able to give me some of the assurances that I have asked for. I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, for taking on the burden of moving, in effect, my amendment and his, because he knows far more about the subject than I do. I could not be here last night, and it therefore seemed prudent that he, conveniently for me, should take over my amendment. But I do think I should have my say.

This part of the Bill applies to all of the United Kingdom rights under Part 5 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It gives the Government the power to designate, within that huge area of seabed, renewable energy zones. Theoretically, therefore, the Government could surround this country with renewable energy zones. The problem may not be so much with wind in this instance, but the possibility of wave energy in the future. If we begin to extract energy from waves, that opens up the possibility of going out to deeper sea than one would think of conventionally in the context of wind turbines. Once you begin to widen out the scope, the possibility for interference with shipping becomes greater and greater. I am not a mariner in that sense, but I have sailed off the east coast for some years of my life. The approaches to Harwich and Felixstowe became important to me when we were involved with some port improvements in Harwich. I have lived with the problems of the approaches to the Thames Estuary all my life—who does not who lives in either Essex or Kent? The problems of the Goodwin Sands are something that I remember vividly from my childhood. As the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, pointed out, ships still sink off our shores, for whatever reason, and subsequently there is slightly hazardous navigation. We should not pretend that the sea is a safe place.

My original amendment sought to require the Government, as far as was possible, not to put renewable energy zones in those areas where ships are accustomed to make their passage. They do not make their passage in straight lines in the North Sea, and definitely not as they begin to approach the east coast ports. There are offshore sands and shallows which mean that you must have fairly closely defined routes into these ports. The North Sea itself is shallow. There will be areas which large boats will tend to avoid because of shallow water, even if it is deep enough for them to pass through, because of sea conditions and so on. This matter is not straightforward and it requires the most careful consideration.

You cannot slap down a renewable energy zone somewhere in the middle of the North Sea just because you happen to think it is a nice place. The fact that there is a reasonable depth of water that is convenient for the construction of wind turbines will not necessarily mean that it is a safe place if shipping is required to sail close to it.

That was my motivation in starting my own hare, but the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, has covered the point far better than I. There is no need for me to say

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more—except that I wholly support everything that is being done to apply the same principles to the inshore areas. In many instances there, they are even more vital because the possible channels for shipping travel are inevitably more constricted.


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