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Lord Higgins: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I should like to refer to the question of radar. Am I to understand that he accepts the amendment, which is much more precise than the statement he has just made, in as much as more licences should not be granted until that study has been carried out? It would be quite absurd to grant the licences and then to find that the radar implications make the licence dangerous.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I do not want to accept the amendment at this point. I am giving the noble Lord a general response that we recognise the validity of the points that he makes and that we intend to carry out such a study. I am quite prepared to discuss the matter further with him. I was hoping that he would recognise the degree to which I have sought to meet him regarding his amendment in recognising the validity of his points; that he would give us time to work on this issue and to discuss the matter further. I have made my response to his points on that basis.
The amendments cover very important issues. That is why we have had such an extensive debate. I wanted to emphasise just how seriously the Government take the issues and why we recognise the validity of many of the points that have been made. However, I also want to emphasise that we are not convinced, as I hope I have demonstrated, that it is necessary to write new legislation on the face of this Bill. Many safeguards regarding shipping obtain in other legislation, which were already operating with regard to round one of the development of these installations. We do not believe that we need to use the vehicle of this Bill for more
As for the rest, I hope I have given the assurance that this debate has raised very important issues. The Government take them very seriously. I hope that on that basis the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Greenway: My Lords, at the outset I thank all noble Lords from all sides of the House who have contributed to this important but lengthy debate. I must confess that I was wondering what would have happened had the amendment been reached late last night. I think we might have had a much shorter debate. Nevertheless, some very interesting points of view have been put forward. I am very grateful to noble Lords who have been able to expand on the many points that I could not possibly cover in my opening remarks.
The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, is not in her place, but I should like to pick up her point suggesting that perhaps we might be anti-wind farms. I can categorically say that the shipping industry is not against wind farms. It recognises that the Government have chosen this way forward with renewable energy. All it seeks is the right mechanism and the right early consultation to enable the developers and the users of the sea to cohabit. Indeed, the Minister has said that the Government want to achieve that.
The Minister has been generous in the assurances that he has announced: I have not been sitting with a checklist, because there were too many of them. He has certainly gone a long way towards meeting many of our concerns. There are still one or two concerns outstanding, particularly with regard to the Transport and Works Act 1992, where developers have an alternative route of going about things, which, although it may be expensive, could be attractive to them because of the possibility of extinguishing rights of navigation and therefore reducing risks.
The Minister said that route would be subject to the same checks and balances as under the Coast Protection Act 1949, but there are still one or two worries on that. Using that route, there is no statutory requirement for wind farms causing a hazard to navigation to be addressed. It is appreciated that the MCA, as the Minister said, will be asked to assess orders from the safety perspective. However, the MCA is not legally part of that consent regime, and therefore any conditions in the consents imposed by them would not be legally binding on developers.
If that route was to be taken, there would be a serious weakness in the legislative machinery to protect against wind farms causing a hazard to navigation and therefore compromising safety. I do not know whether, with the leave of the House, the Minister is able to say a little more on that before I decide what to do on this amendmentno answer is forthcoming. In that case, once again, I
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is concerned with the procedure that would be exercised for Orders in Council. The paragraph as a whole is concerned with the exploitation of areas outside the territorial sea for energy production. It states:
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I appreciate the precision and cogency with which the noble Lord has addressed this amendment, but I am afraid that I will not be as forthcoming as I was on his last significant amendment.
There are two slightly different delegated powers in Clause 76, both of which, as the noble Lord indicated, are subject to negative resolution where he would prefer an affirmative resolution. The first, in Clause 76(4), is a power for Her Majesty to designate an area, which we are calling a renewable energy zone, as an area to which the rights under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea set out in subsection (2) are exercisable. The second power, in Clause 76(5), is a power for the Secretary of State to designate the whole or part of a renewable energy zone as an area in relation to which Scottish Ministers are to have functions, as set out, for example, in Clause 80 and the decommissioning powers in Chapter 2.
Both are important powers, but the subject matter of the orders will be technical in nature. My reason for seeking to rebut the argument made by the noble Lord is that we regard them as technical in nature, and we do not foresee that they will be particularly controversial. That is why we have chosen the negative resolution procedure. The Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform, in looking at the delegated powers in this Bill as a whole, thought that this was reasonable. We do not see a case for a change to an affirmative resolution.
It may be helpful if I add a little more about the powers. As noble Lords will be aware, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gives the UK the right to exploit the renewable energy resources from the winds and waters in an area that we are
I hope that noble Lords will appreciate from this brief description of the process that this is an entirely technical exercise. We would not expect this to be controversial. The process will be similar to the mapping of the UK continental shelf. Our conclusion is that the negative resolution procedure for Orders in Council for such a technical matter is entirely appropriate.
On the second power, which concerns Scottish Ministers and the Scottish dimension, it follows that we need to designate the areas in the United Kingdom renewable energy zone as a whole, within which Scottish Ministers are to exercise certain functions regarding certain parts. The process of designation will be similar to that outlined above. However, we will need to define the maritime border between Scotland and the rest of the UK. There are precedents for this in other legislation. We will want to consult the Scottish Executive before making an order under Clause 76. Again, it seems to us that this is not an area of high controversy. Therefore, we think the negative resolution procedures entirely appropriate. I hope that the noble Lord is convinced by my argument and will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.
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