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Lord Triesman: My Lords, I do confirm it. I think it was me who confirmed it when asked a question in Committee as well. I recall saying on that occasion—no doubt someone will check the record to make sure that I did—that the establishment of one of these zones, for the purposes of making sure that we could generate clean energy, could not be achieved with absolutely no conceivable downside. That would be a fiction. I certainly would not wish to be party to a fiction of that kind. As I said in Committee, safety will be the forefront issue. The exclusion of shipping, including small shipping, must be a safety judgment in the interests of the mariners.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, can he help me? I hope I am not out of order,

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because he has described the safety issue and that is the one I want to keep to. If my memory serves me correctly—I am sure that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—my understanding in Committee was that while the wind farms were being constructed you would have a safety zone. Once they were constructed, there would be no safety zone. I am a little confused by the contribution he has just made because it seems to differ from what we were doing at Committee. I do apologise, because I do not normally come back but I think we need clarification.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords—

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, this is Report stage of the Bill. It is right, of course, that questions can be addressed on the issue of clarification. But we cannot have the Minister subjected to cross-examination after he has completed his speech as if this were Committee stage, because it clearly is not. Certainly, the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, has asked a question and she should be replied to. But that really ought to be the end of this particular part of the deliberations.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, while I have the opportunity to reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, this clause does not deal with safety specifically. I was trying to illustrate a point by making reference to the different sorts of circumstances that might arise. It is certainly one of the circumstances that, while construction is going on, a safety zone might well be a sensible and necessary precaution. It may also be the case that after construction is completed, were it to be a completely non-safely navigable area, that that might continue. In general, that is not expected to be the case.

Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, there is just one point of clarification that might be of help to this House. As former Secretary of State for Energy I have a lot of nostalgic feelings towards all energy Bills and such issues. The Minister referred to the Transport and Public Works Act, and the provisions there which up until now have had to be used for this purpose. Could he clarify in precisely what way the provisions to be inserted in this Bill go beyond the provisions in the Transport and Public Works Act?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, the belief is—I think this is probably the best way I can explain it—that an amendment to the Electricity Act would make it a great deal easier and more transparent than other available routes. That has been the experience of the industry in making applications more generally. That is the reason that this change is being contemplated: it involves transparency, simplicity and greater relevance.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I think I am in order in coming in at this point. Unfortunately, we have the next amendment on the Order Paper which relates to the following clause, on which the same issues will arise. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, will be able to raise his point then if he wishes to do so.

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It is very inhibiting to have a Report stage rule, but I certainly believe it is right that we should seek to adhere to it.

I am now somewhat puzzled by what the Minister has said. I am not asking him to reply to it again, but perhaps he might like to do so on the next amendment. We have got a clause here, as well as the following clause, about extinguishing public rights of navigation. But I am now not at all clear what sort of area—I cannot find another word for it—the Government are proposing to extinguish the rights in. From what has just been said, it seems to involve just the turbines themselves. I would have thought it would normally include the safety zone. Or am I to understand that you can have a safety zone within which the public rights of navigation will not be extinguished? Will it apply to some sizes of vessels and not others? I am not in the least bit clear about that. The other thing is, over how large an area beyond the safety zone is the public right of navigation going to be extinguished? For example, will it be extinguished within the relative territorial limits of the sites set out in the Crown Estate's documentation?

Finally, during the day we have had a great deal of discussion about the Transport and Works Act. I am nowhere near as familiar with that Act—indeed, I am totally unfamiliar with it—as is my noble friend Lord Lawson. It would seem that the existence of that Act is a positive disadvantage to this legislation. It provides a loophole whereby developers can get around the restraints that would otherwise be put on them—albeit a more expensive option.

Would the Government care to consider whether the operation of the Transport and Works Act ought to be excluded from the operation of this legislation?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I shall deal with the last point first. We are not disapplying the Transport and Works Act, so developers could, if they wished, continue to use it. It is a matter for them if they wish to use it in relation to projects in territorial waters. We are giving developers a choice. For reasons I gave earlier, we expect that they will want to use the Electricity Act, which will prove more efficacious for their purposes. The Transport and Works Act process requires a lot of input by lawyers and the costs to developers are estimated to be much higher by using that route. The Electricity Act process is a good deal more streamlined, but it is robust at the same time. Far be it from me to wish to interfere with the legitimate earnings of the legal profession, but it may well be that one or two people will feel that it is as effective and a tiny bit more economical, which would be helpful.

On the question of which area, I had hoped that I had been clear. I apologise if I have not been sufficiently clear. The safety zones are designed to exclude the passage of shipping for reasons described in exchanges between myself and the noble Baroness, Lady Byford. The area of installation is the subject of this clause and I have described the arrangements contained in it. The public right of navigation will be extinguished for the installation only. I had hoped that I had made that clear. This is to deal with the problems of claims in law for

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nuisance, to which a developer would become liable if he did not have the protection. Safety zones, if applied, may stop navigation through them. I said "may" because we said that it was conditional. However, they do not need to distinguish the public rights of navigation. It is merely a practical matter to exclude vehicles under particular circumstances because there is no legal concern relating to the nuisance of the safety zone and the kind of risks that might be run. That is the distinction which the clause tries to make clear and I hope that in this effort I have made it somewhat clearer, too.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, in the light of the Minister's reply, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 92: [Further provision relating to public rights of navigation]:

Lord Triesman moved Amendment No. 186:


    Page 74, line 8, leave out "or all"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, happily this may be the shortest contribution to the debate. In Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, made a drafting amendment which considerably improved the drafting of Clause 91(1) in regard to the rights of navigation which might be extinguished. I thank her for having done so. The amendment seeks simply to make the same changes to Clause 92(3) and to make the Bill consistent. I beg to move.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank the Minister. Success has been slow in certain parts of the Bill, but the provision was a nonsense. I am grateful to the Minister for putting the matter right.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Higgins moved Amendment No. 187:


    Leave out Clause 92.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a probing amendment. It is a question of tidying up one or two points. The Minister's previous reply was helpful in a number of respects and we will need to consider carefully what was said.

Perhaps I may clarify one point. Suddenly the Electricity Act has appeared in our debates—at least during my presence. If a developer goes through the Electricity Act process, are there sufficient powers for the Secretary of State to prevent a development taking place which would endanger the safety of navigation? Although there seems to be some disagreement between the two sides, we understand that there is a loophole under the Transport and Works Act. It is now suggested that developers might alternatively use the Electricity Act. In the context of wind farms, which presumably were not necessarily envisaged at the earlier stage, might that not be another loophole which one would want to cover? I beg to move.


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