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Lord Whitty: I intervene simply to fulfil a commitment I made to clarify this in relation to questions raised on the Liberal Democrat Benches. The clause deals with fly-posting and fly-tipping. Concern has been expressed that the provision might allow removal notices to be used to require the removal of advertisements where there is a question of the advertisements' lawfulness as a result of the interpretation of regulations, for example, where an advertisement has deemed consent.
However, the intention is that this power will be available only where the relevant surface has been defaced by a poster or flyer and the defacement is
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detrimental to the amenity of the area or is offensive. It is therefore unlikely that the provision could be used where there is a question of the lawfulness of the advertisement itself. That will, in any case, be made clear in statutory guidance so that local authorities should use this power only to target the visual blight and defacement caused by fly-posting, not to police the technicalities of, for example, the Town and Country Planning Act.
Similar concerns have been raised in relation to Clause 34 that local authorities might use their powers under Section 225 of the Town and Country Planning Act where there are disputes over the planning status of otherwise legitimate adverts. The use of Section 225 would be completely inappropriate in such circumstances. We will also issue guidance and advice to local authorities so that it makes that clear. I hope that that clarification deals with the concerns raised.
The noble Lord said: On Second Reading, concern was expressed by the noble Baronesses, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer and Lady Byford, that Clause 101 could have an adverse impact on biodiversity. The clause deals with insect nuisance and it was feared that naturally occurring concentrations of insects, on farm land in particular, might be regarded as a statutory nuisance. Similar concerns have been expressed to us by the conservation charity, Buglife.
The intention of the clause is to deal with a nuisance which might be caused by sewage or sewage treatment works or other industrial activities. It was not intended to affect insects emanating from farmland, so we have tabled the amendment for clarification. It would exclude the types of land and water listed in it from the statutory nuisance regime in respect of insects. We are confident that the types of land will cover most farmland and open waters. There is also a power for the Secretary of State or the National Assembly to exclude other types of land by way of regulation if there proves to be a problem.
The amendment is intended to deal with unfarmed land such as that under certain agri-environmental schemes. It should be noted that types of land which are not business premises such as commons, which are not grazed, are not covered by the clause, since it extends the statutory nuisance regime in respect of insects only to industrial, commercial and business premises. I hope, therefore, that the exclusion of water and farmland meets the concerns which were expressed on Second Reading and since. I beg to move.
Baroness Byford: Since the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, is not here, and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, will follow me, I thank the Minister. This seemed a very minor point to
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raise but it was important, and I am grateful to the Government for coming back with the amendment which fills some of the gaps we could see in the Bill.
Lord Greaves: I agree with those comments. My noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who, unfortunately, is out of the country this weekshe probably does not think it unfortunate, but I doraised this on Second Reading, and my honourable friend Sue Doughty raised it in the House of Commons as well. As far as I can see, being a layman, this rather technical amendment seems to make sense, and I hope it does. We are therefore very happy to support it.
In parenthesis, it occurred to me that this clause should be extended to Scotland. The Minister should be sent off to eradicate the highland midge. However, if he knew how to do that, he would be making a lot of money and not sitting here.
"(4) In subsection (7) at the appropriate place insert
""appropriate person" means
(a) in relation to England, the Secretary of State;
(b) in relation to Wales, the National Assembly for Wales;".
(5) After subsection (7B) (as inserted by section 102(6)) insert
"(7C) In this Part "relevant industrial, trade or business premises" means premises that are industrial, trade or business premises as defined in subsection (7), but excluding
(a) land used as arable, grazing, meadow or pasture land,
(b) land used as osier land, reed beds or woodland,
(c) land used for market gardens, nursery grounds or orchards,
(d) land forming part of an agricultural unit, not being land falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (c), where the land is of a description prescribed by regulations made by the appropriate person, or
(e) land included in a site of special scientific interest (as defined in section 52(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981),
and excluding land covered by, and the waters of, any river or watercourse, that is neither a sewer nor a drain, or any lake or pond.
(7D) For the purposes of subsection (7C)
"agricultural" has the same meaning as in section 109 of the Agriculture Act 1947;
"agricultural unit" means land which is occupied as a unit for agricultural purposes;
"drain" has the same meaning as in the Water Resources Act 1991;
"lake or pond" has the same meaning as in section 104 of that Act;
"sewer" has the same meaning as in that Act." "
Lord Grocott: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill, has consented to place her Prerogative and Interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I thank the Opposition for their co-operation in the passage of the Bill and, possibly even more so, the Bill team for their patience and hard work.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, this is a slightly sad occasion for me. The Minister and I have faced each other across the Table on numerous occasions. Regrettably, whatever the future may hold for all of us, I think this will be the last occasion on which I shall have the pleasure of facing him. I should like to place on record my thanks to him for the invariable courtesy and patience with which he has endured my attempts to enlighten him. Occasionally we succeeded, occasionally I thought I was making progress and occasionally I despaired. But that is the nature of the business that we undertake.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am deeply touched, and I thank the noble Lord for his kind words. As he says, he and I have gone through a lot of legislation together. One thing I learnt very early on when I was dealing with local government legislation was not to do anything that seriously offends Essex. Even though I may have disappointed the noble Lord in other areas, I hope that in general I have managed to keep to that precept. I thank him and the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, for their unfailing courtesy during the period in which we have faced each other. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who, regrettably, is in the Philippines. I have appreciated the relationship between the parties in the House in my term of office.
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