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Let us move on to that unelected super-quango, the IPC. This is a sad development because it just continues the policy started by Mr Prescott in 2002 to abolish local democracy. It is not a sensible way forward in terms of tackling the important decisions that are needed. Moreover, I do not think that anyone has mentioned the fact that the IPC will cover offshore wind farms. At 9.30 tomorrow morning, a number of us, including the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, will be working on the draft report on the Marine Bill that will come before your Lordships in due course. The major role to be played by the IPC in that arena is clear. I know that the noble Baroness knows all about it and will tell us more.
On the question of wind farmsin the north of Scotland we suffer badly from the problemit is not the wind farms themselves that are holding up development; the national grid is the real problem, as it has no capacity. A lot of good tidal power development, which to me is much more important than wind farming, is being delayed not by the planning process but because there is no capacity in the national grid. It is a good thing that our party is committed to abolishing the IPC if it ever gets off the ground.
I turn to the community infrastructure levy. The Minister calls it CIL; I shall go one further and call it silly, because I think that it will stop completely a whole lot of development. We saw that with the development land tax, which I remember well when I was a surveyorit stopped all development. The CIL will do exactly the same. One has only to listen to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and the noble Lord, Lord Best, who have huge experience in the charity and church worlds, to know that there will be no development. From the heritage and conservation point of view, it will be exactly the same, particularly if the land or the property is owned by a charity. If, for instance, a charity is trying to preserve an historic buildingI declare an interest in that I am trying to preserve a castle in Scotlandand it has to pay the CIL for putting up a visitor centre whose whole purpose is to help to preserve the monument, there is no way financially that that could ever happen, so the building will fall down. The Government are destroying the one thing that they are seeking in other parts of government to maintain.
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I also think that the CIL will be used by local authorities to stop developments such as intensive livestock units. I can see that being a really good one if they are allowed to set the CIL at whatever level they choose; farming will not benefit from the authorities that do not like it. Also, I do not trust the Government or local authorities. One has only to look at Purbeck District Council and see the charges that it is levying on people who apply to add a bedroom to a house. Local authorities will abuse the silly CIL system to raise extra revenue because it will be a wonderful opportunity to do so. If they start to do that, development will stop.
It concerns me hugely that local planning authorities will be allowed to withdraw permitted development rights without the approval of the Secretary of State. Again I put on my on countryman hat, because many farmers use the facility to put up small-scale developments and will be severely affected if the local planning authority can take away that right. I hope that the Minister will confirm that, in the event of a local authority taking away that right, compensation will be paid to those who are adversely affected.
In general, there is no doubt that we need to address the planning system and make it speedier. Sadly, what is in the Billor, more particularly, what is not in the Billwill be a matter of huge debate at later stages, if we get anything tangible to debate at all.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I am sure that the Government think that the Bill addresses the question of sustainable development. The problem is, as the Ministers introduction showed, that at the moment the Bill is heavily tilted towards the economic, to the detriment of society and the environment. She mentioned the modern economy and building on economy and society. I lost count of the number of times she mentioned economy; it was on at least three or four occasions.
I associate myself with the comments of the noble Lords, Lord Judd and Lord Howarth, about the value of landscape and the need for there to be in the Bill a duty to have regard to landscape, biodiversity and all the other things that add up to the environment. In my experience as chair of the planning committee of a local authority for a number of years, the large infrastructure projects were not always the most controversial. Projects which deeply affected society were often more controversial. Plans for rehabilitation hostels, for example, were almost impossible to pass unless councillors from all parties stuck together. This is where I part company with the noble Lord, Lord ONeill, because councillors of all parties did stick together quite well and tried, against enormous local opposition and nimbyism, to pass plans for facilities such as rehabilitation homes for drug addicts, Travellers sitesanother extremely difficult exampleand even supported housing for the mentally ill. It is shocking to think that such projects are so often opposed by the very communities within which their mentally ill live.
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The Bill focuses too much on economy by giving powers to the RDAs to take over planning functions. As the Minister will appreciate, RDAs are primarily bodies with economic targets, with success measured by their sponsoring department largely in economic terms. I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Lucas and Lord Cameron of Dillington, that this is undesirable. RDAs should not be a part of the planning picture; that is not what was envisaged when they were set up.
I wonder why there is a need for the IPC. Various bodies have reflected democratic accountability better. I can see the point of national policy statements and, on a regional basiswhether we call them, as in the past, the regional strategic planning framework or whether we call them RPBsa collection of local authority executive planning members, who are accountable to their electorates and who come together to form regional bodies to deliver the national planning statements, would be a lot stronger a method of building on democracy than inventing an IPC which will undermine it. It was a tried and tested system for delivering housing numbers, which was not an easy thing for the Government to deliver. Perhaps the Minister could point to where regions actually failed in that. Yes, they had big fights, but they delivered in the end, even on the Governments predict-and-provide model.
I shall use the rest of my time to mention the issue of the IPC and the marine environment. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, referred to that, and I agree with his comments about the fact that much of the issue of energy generation at sea is to do with grid capacity and bringing that energy onshore, rather than anything else. As a member of the Joint Committee on the draft Marine Bill I have learnt a great deal more about the issues. I am not going to comment at all on that report because we are simply discussing the draft in the morning, but the split in the Planning Bill between the Marine Management Organisation and the IPC is totally premature. The draft Marine Bill, which creates the spatial marine planning system, will not even be introduced until the new Session. No one knows yet what the duties of the Marine Management Organisation will be or what it will look like; we know very little about it at all. There are substantial arguments to be had about its responsibilities and duties. If the IPC exists, maybe it should be responsible for some of the permissions at sea, but it is wrong to decide now in this Bill that the figure should be the amount of power generated rather than, say, the area of sea covered or the area of seabed covered, or whether indeed the Marine Management Organisation might be more relevant to those developments inshore up to the six-mile limit while the IPC could cover those between six and 200 miles offshore. Those decisions should not be made until the Marine Bill is in place. To do so now is premature.
I shall be tempted to table an amendment to Part 3 to say that nothing designated under that part should come under those clauses of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act that criminalise protesters so
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Lord Woolmer of Leeds: My Lords, I rise to support the clauses of the Bill that deal with the issue of national policies and the role of the IPC, and to make perhaps less supportive remarks on certain other aspects of the Bill. I declare an interest: I am a partner in a consultancy that works with major developers on involving stakeholders and so on in big developments. It is that part of the Billas you would imagine, with my experiencethat I support. The very best large developers do that already, but with regard to major schemes it is essential. I shall come back to that.
With regard to national policies, providing clear national policy statements after thorough and effective public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny will be a substantial step forward. On the question of decisions on applications and the role of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, a clear and statutory requirement for pre-application consultation with local community interests is extremely important. Cynical remarks have been made about whether developers can be trusted to do this. These are huge investments and huge decisions; such remarks are not worthy of Members of this House. Businesses are looking at investing hundreds of millions of pounds on some occasions. They have no interest in misleading people or in not doing things thoroughly. The last thing these businesses want is to fall at the hurdle of having their application considered because they have not done things thoroughly.
The planning commission has a duty to do a number of things; it must meet all interested parties at the start, to agree on the processes, and ask local authorities for impact assessments. These things are very helpful. It also has a single consenting regime, which is very important. I say to Members on the Conservative Benches, having had the Barker and Eddington reports and the White Paper, that for a party that aspires to power to come before the House with no constructive view on how to improve matters made me despair.
There was talk of a lack of democracy. I have set out the various statutory elements that will be required for consultation, yet, at the end of the day, the Conservatives want the Secretary of State to take the final decision. That will add months to the process. Will the Secretary of State second-guess the lengthy process undertaken by the Infrastructure Planning Commission? If so, on what information? Is the Secretary of State going to act, as at present, in a quasi-judicial role? If so, there is no changethat is not a new process.
Extraordinary phrases have been used tonight, such as destroying democracy. The suggestion that the present planning inspectorate system could cope with the change required is extraordinary. How would it deal with that? We should be told in Committee how that will work. Will the planning inspectorate have the power to deal with all the consents on all the issues? That is not the caseat present, there are different forms of inquiry under different bodies. It does not add up.
On the Climate Change Bill, the Conservatives actually pressed for the Committee on Climate Change to have executive powers and for decisions not to be taken by Ministers. Yet on this Bill they have the cheek to say quite the opposite; they want Ministers to take decisions, whereas on the Climate Change Bill they want the Committee on Climate Change to take decisionsnot merely make recommendationsabout issues that will influence whole swathes of industry and of life. Yet they say that the planning commission cannot be trusted and that Ministers should intervene. That is very disappointing.
I was delighted to hear my noble friend say that the Government intend to table amendments to withdraw the proposal for appeal to local councils. At present the Bill removes the right of appeal to independent inspectors in a range of matters. I should be grateful if my noble friend could confirm that the Government will be withdrawing applications for certificates of lawful use and development and for listed building consent, which are all covered.
I draw the Ministers attention to the power to make non-material changes. There is a widespread understanding that this problem is a result of the House of Lords ruling and that we need to regularise matters. In subsections (5) and (8) of new Clause 96A in Clause 184, the Bill appears to set out a framework that could become a bureaucratic nightmare far worse than the present position. Great unease about that is felt among developers.
I turn finally to the community infrastructure levy. Like the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, I am appalled by the lack of detail and reliance on regulations across a whole range of issues. It has the makings of a shambles. The idea is understandable, but innumerable issuesits relationship to Section 106, how it will work in practice, who will be covered, the costing of plans, how to cope with inflation, what if those plans change, what if development does not occur and how will infrastructure that has to be put in place before development, as much of it has to be, be fundedare simply not clear. As things standI very rarely say this in this HouseI would find it exceptionally difficult to support that area of the Bill in the government Lobby. The intention is admirable, but the problems are great. The levy can be described in no other way than as a discretionary tax at a local level. Mrs Thatcher used the expression community charge to avoid the name poll tax. This is a local discretionary tax and taxes at the margin deter some decisions. Very great care is required with regard to Section 106. I ask the Government to think again on that.
Baroness Valentine: My Lords, the business community has long advocated reform of planning to overcome long delays in delivering vital national infrastructure. Does democratic accountability have to equate to as much as 20 years from concept to delivery?
We need to find a better solution for UK-level, strategically important projects which affords proper scrutiny and accountability but secures reliably prompt decisions in the national interest. I support the Bill as it stands in this regard.
I shall focus today on the community infrastructure levy, or CIL. London is forecast to grow by nearly 1 million jobs and people by 2026. That means more than half a million new homes, new offices, shops and other developments. Much of it is in the East End, where if the 2012 Games do not catalyse regeneration, we will have missed a great opportunity.
Development is critical if we are to grow and remain competitive. If London does not continue to grow, the whole UK economy will stall. It is important to improve and speed up planning for essential major infrastructure but also to deliver, at the right time, the infrastructure needed to support development of homes and commercial floor space at a local level.
The Beatle John Lennon said: Life is what happens while youre busy making other plans. While we are making plans, we must provide the infrastructure to support life. I mean improvements to transport capacity, schools, parks, doctors surgeries and community facilities. They are what create living neighbourhoods and make development acceptable to existing communities.
The Government must plan longer term for infrastructure funding: three-year funding commitments sit uncomfortably with 15-year local authority development plans, especially when the proposed CIL requires councils to prepare infrastructure plans alongside those development plans. Local authorities will assess what development is needed to support growth, the infrastructure therefore required, availability of public funds and, finally, what developments can contribute towards the cost.
Infrastructure delivery needs to be integrated with development. When the housing development is planned, the primary school should be planned alongside it. If public funds can provide only £9 million of the £10 million cost, CIL might provide the additional £1 million from the developer, but the delivery of the school at the right time remains down to the public sector.
This is of course iterative. If the proposed CIL cost is too high for developments to bear, the infrastructure priorities and phasing will have to be reviewed. Yes, CIL is a major step forward in infrastructure planning, but it must be established and refined through the well tested, democratic processes of the development plan system. It is not a panacea. In many cases, it will represent a small part of the overall cost. If the CIL is set too high, development simply will not happen. We will not get the homes and commercial development needed to support economic and population growth.
CIL must be considered alongside other planning requirements such as those for affordable housing and sustainability. There is a real risk that if this is not
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London First, the organisation that I lead, was one of the proponents of this alternative to the Government's potentially counterproductive planning gain supplement proposal. Delivery has been at the heart of the idea and should be fundamental to the way it works, not raising revenue. Delivery is what matters to communities, business and developers.
In summary and to close, we have the chance to make real progress on timely and integrated delivery of infrastructurenot just the big ticket items such as Crossrail but the nitty-gritty that supports everyday lives. We must get it right and establish the right framework and mechanisms to plan and deliver infrastructure. CIL must be part of the development plan system and must not reduce or replace government funding. Clarity is needed on how and when infrastructure will be delivered, including long-term government funding commitments. Infrastructure covered by CIL should be set out in regulations, not overlapping that sought from Section 106.
Lord Grantchester: My Lords, at this late hour and with so many noble Lords having spoken before me, I do not intend to delay this Second Reading. I shall concentrate a few remarks on some of the rural repercussions in the Billand, in so doing, declare an interest as a landowner in Cheshire.
Many of the projects that will come within the ambit of the new procedures will undoubtedly require land currently in agricultural usefor example, airport construction or extension, highways, reservoirs and so on. Also, agricultural businesses will continue to be affected in future as they have been in the past by the disruption arising from the construction and use of such works as pipelines and electric lines. It is important for the farming businesses and others affected that they can be assured that the works are justified as in the national interest and will not result in the cavalier overriding of their legitimate individual interests.
The establishment of the Infrastructure Planning Commission to speed up the planning process by taking decisions on major projects is a welcome and radical proposal. Clause 5(3) obliges the Secretary of State to carry out an appraisal on the sustainability of the policy to be contained in a national policy statement. Clause 10 obliges the Secretary of State to carry out functions,
However, there are differing views and trade-offs between differing aspects of sustainabilitythe economic, the social and the environmental. For example, some would argue that air travel is not sustainable from carbon emission viewpoint. I trust that my noble friend the Minister will explain at the relevant time what will be meant by these provisions and how the Government will deliver their duties under them.
The Minister is right to point to all the aspects contained in the Bill that strengthen consultation and the public say in the planning decisions. In speeding up decision-making, it is imperative that there is a minimum risk of a sense of forlornness and remoteness leading to real resentment over the manner and outcomes of decisions on major projects.
The parliamentary requirements firming up Clause 9 will ensure that the draft national policy statement will be debated and the Minister will respond to comments. Many noble Lords have commented on how important it is that this innovative process succeeds.
The list of projects in Clause 14 which will be subject to decision by the IPC does not include flood defence and coastal protection works. Some work of this nature is of modest scale and thus outside the scope of the Billbut with climate change threatening increased inland flooding and the breaching of coastal defences, is it desirable to be able to give this priority on some major-scale projects?
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