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Amendment No. 36 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is on flood risk. We discussed this matter on Monday evening and now the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, has joined the debate. I shall not rehearse what I said, because I agree completely with the noble Earl on the importance of the issue. I repeat my reassurance that it will be fully and properly taken into account in NPSs, where it is relevant. It is worth looking at PPS 25, which is a sophisticated document. For the first time, flood risk assessment is geared to the highest three levels of risk—those are very serious risks indeed. That guidance document involves a sound test of where planning is plausible and where it is not. There are checks and balances in the system. The processes for public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny will ensure that all relevant aspects of policy, including the risk of flooding, will be properly taken into account in the final versions of the NPSs.

I also have a problem with singling out a specific potential impact, because, as I have said, it is difficult to control the scope afterwards. We have given a clear commitment that the Secretary of State will have a duty to consider sustainability, which, where relevant, will cover flood risk, when producing an NPS.

Amendment No. 85 in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, and the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, would require that the sustainable development duty on the Secretary of State under Clause 10 applies to functions carried out under the whole of Part 2, which goes much wider than simply Clauses 5 and 6. The amendment would require the duty to apply in relation to functions outside Clauses 5 and 6, such as consultation and parliamentary scrutiny. It is important to draw a proper distinction. The way in which the duty is drawn up makes it clear that it applies to the function of setting out policy. That must be the right approach. If we expanded the duty, it would be very confusing, particularly if there were procedural requirements.

Amendments Nos. 33 and 59 put the cat among the pigeons on the Cross Benches, where it is pretty rough. The noble Lord, Lord Cameron, has proposed that the appraisal of the sustainability of the policy set out in a draft NPS should be carried out by the Sustainable Development Commission rather than the Secretary of State. He made an eloquent case that, because the SDC is the Government’s independent advisory body, it would be best placed to carry out such an appraisal. I hope that the SDC reads Hansard tomorrow. I am sure that it will consider it interesting reading. I should say that we value the work of the SDC.

Let me first reassure the noble Lord that we share his concern that national policy statements must in each case be drawn up with the objective of contributing

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to sustainable development and be seen to be so. He is right to stress the importance of transparency. There must be proper testing by the processes that we have put in place to achieve this. However, I repeat the question that was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull. Why should responsibility for carrying out this appraisal rest with the Secretary of State rather than an independent body such as the SDC? The answer is clear. In the context of everything that we are trying to do, the burden of our argument is that Ministers are accountable for their policy and it is right and proper that responsibility for ensuring that it is, and is seen to be, sustainable rests with them.

The Secretary of State is responsible not only for UK law but for EU law and is, therefore, responsible for ensuring that an SEA is carried out where one is required under the SEA directive. It is also important to ensure that policy is developed in the full context of all the relevant policies across Whitehall. We will consider an amendment later that touches on that. That would be difficult for an organisation such as the SDC to achieve. In terms of transparency, the policy will be independently tested through consultation with statutory bodies and scrutinised by Parliament. I hope that that reassures the noble Lord, who made a serious argument that the appraisal should be thorough and comprehensive. It is rightly the responsibility of the Secretary of State.

Amendment No. 38 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, would require an appraisal carried out in connection with a transport or energy NPS to include a comparison with other modes of transport and with other forms of energy respectively. I hope that I can reassure the noble Baroness that what is in place will meet those objectives. Her amendments would be too prescriptive. The framework for the appraisal is deliberately designed to be flexible to allow each appraisal not only to capture the appropriate detail but to integrate policy and to explain the implications for each NPS in relation to the other.

While it will be the case that the appraisal process will include reviewing and/or developing reasonable NPS strategic alternatives where they exist, in some cases reasonable alternatives will not exist. For example, there is no economically feasible alternative to shipping and ports for international transport of heavy freight. We cannot put a mandatory requirement in the Bill. Where reasonable alternatives exist, the NPS will in any case have to be clear as to what alternatives have been considered and whether they are or are not capable of fulfilling the Secretary of State’s policy.

Amendment No. 39 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Reay, would require that, before an NPS could be designated, an appraisal must be carried out to ensure that it is consistent with the terms of the European Landscape Convention. The convention sets out that the protection, management and planning of all landscapes in Europe is a task not just for Governments but for all sectors of civil society, entailing rights and responsibilities for everyone. We consider that the UK already complies with the ELC’s requirements, but we wish to strengthen this wherever we can through performance in policy and practice across as wide a section of society as possible. The UK Government

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and the devolved Administrations, through appropriate agencies across the four countries, will be invited to develop their own action plans, whose activities will further implementation of the ELC in a creative and incremental way.

Defra has asked Natural England to take the lead on the implementation of the ELC in England. It will work closely with English Heritage, the Forestry Commission, NGOs, local authorities, professions and the public. So I do not feel that it is appropriate for us to place an obligation on the Secretary of State to carry out the specific appraisal, but I underline that the appraisal of sustainability will include an assessment of impacts, and Natural England will be a statutory consultee for all national policy statements. It will be able to raise the issues that it feels are appropriate, including any obligations that arise from the ELC.

Finally, Amendment No. 54 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, would require each NPS to explain how the policies that it contains will support the achievement of objectives contained in other national policy statements. For the reason given by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, it is important that policies are lined up and that they are consistently interrelated. However, I am afraid that this amendment would unduly constrain Ministers because NPSs must relate to much more than simply other NPSs. They will have to be developed and will have to iterate and justify policy within the wider sphere of relevant policies, whether those relate to transport, energy, the environment or planning, with the objective of contributing to sustainable development. The amendment would create an artificial connection between the various infrastructure types covered by the Bill, rather than allowing Ministers to describe the critical connections across policy. NPSs will have to describe those connections, but they will be different. It is important that the Bill retains that flexibility. However, as I said, in principle Secretaries of State must take full account of the interaction between the various types of infrastructure being planned before designating each of the NPSs.

I have dealt with this matter at some length but I thought it important to give clear assurances that the appraisal of sustainability, in particular, will be thorough and comprehensive. The provisions are not intended to enable the Secretary of State to duck any difficult issues—quite the opposite. I hope that, with that reassurance, noble Lords will feel that their amendments have been properly served.

Baroness Hamwee: Perhaps I could ask the Minister to confirm what I thought she was saying. She did not give the technical answer; she gave us a lot of assurances and I accept those, but is she saying that Clause 10(2), which states that the Secretary of State must,

is cast in a way that covers what I am particularly concerned about—that is, the alignment and comparability point? It is important to know not just what is in Ministers’ minds but where that is to be found in the Bill. I imagine that it is in Clause 10(2).

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Baroness Andrews: That is certainly my understanding. If I am wrong, which I do not think I am, I shall certainly discuss it with the noble Baroness.

Lord Cameron of Dillington: I am grateful for all the contributions to the debate, both in support and otherwise. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, for making an interesting intervention.

The point of the amendment was to probe to what extent the Government wish to have an open process that is seen to be at arm’s length from the Executive. I felt that the Minister acknowledged that, although there was no question of her opening any windows or doors for anyone to jump through. I hope that when it comes to the alternative approach, which is to have fuller and better parliamentary scrutiny, she will be in a more receptive mood.

My amendment was acknowledged as perhaps not being the right one and I thank noble Lords for pointing that out to me. I am only a beginner, but in 20 years’ time I will probably still be saying that I am only a beginner and will be asking naive probing questions of a similar nature.

The speech on which I should like to comment is that of the noble Lord, Lord Judd. I strongly agree with his statement about wind farms. I am pro-wind power but I have always thought that it is totally wrong that the system depends on farmers, whose businesses may be getting into trouble, putting in applications because they are approached by a wind power company to have a wind farm on their property. There is absolutely no strategy nationally—although it would probably be better if it were done regionally—for asking where in the region we can appropriately put wind power. I thought that the noble Lord made a very good point and I fully support what he said. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 34 to 36 not moved.]

6.45 pm

Lord Howarth of Newport moved Amendment No. 37:

37: Clause 5, page 3, line 5, at end insert—

“( ) Before designating a statement as a national policy statement for the purposes of this Act, the Secretary of State must carry out an appraisal of the impact of the policy set out in the statement on built heritage, scheduled ancient monuments and important landscapes.”

The noble Lord said: This debate follows on very well from the extremely important debate that we have just had. These amendments all relate to heritage. We are debating legislation that would create vast new powers to sweep aside what may be in the way of new development. The Infrastructure Planning Commission, in the Bill as before us, would have powers to set aside the all-too-fragile system that has been developed, through the experience of many decades, to protect the historic environment.

At Stansted, a second runway would require the demolition of two scheduled monuments and 13 grade 2 listed buildings. Other monuments, higher-grade buildings and conservation areas would be seriously affected, including a grade 2* listed church. Some time

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ago, Southend Borough Council, ambitious for its airport, proposed to dig beneath the grade 1 listed St Laurence Church, insert a raft and roll the structure to a site nearby. That did not happen, but the borough has now issued a new issues and options document for the Southend Airport joint area action plan, which at this stage omits to say what might happen to St Laurence Church, although ominously a picture of the church appears in the document. I mention these simply as two current illustrations of the inevitable clash between development and heritage as we seek to improve our national infrastructure. In our small, densely inhabited and built-upon country, we have to proceed, not dilatorily, but with immense care as we plan for new development, especially major infrastructure.

I am not saying, of course, that heritage ought always to prevail. I am seeking in these amendments to ensure that we are enabled to make such decisions on a fully informed and careful basis and that we do not damage or destroy heritage without thinking in a balanced way about what we are doing. No one disputes that we need a capacity to take planning decisions—and certainly to take planning decisions where heritage is concerned—more expeditiously, or that we are going to have to provide new sources of energy supply, new transport infrastructure and so forth. But equally, I suggest, no civilised or sensible person wants such innovations to be unnecessarily at the expense of our treasured historic environment. We must not throw the baby out with the bath water.

I appreciate what the Minister said at Second Reading about the Government’s determination to ensure that national benefits are balanced fairly against local impacts. I am not sure, however, that she quite stated the issue as it really is. Local heritage may be of national importance, and cumulatively the web of local heritage is essential to the fabric of our country. My noble friend also assured us that national policy statements,

I believe, however, that we have more to do to ensure that heritage is appropriately safeguarded in the Bill.

The Government anticipate, the Minister has told us, a dozen or so national policy statements. Amendment No. 37 would lay a duty on the Secretary of State, before designating a national policy statement, to carry out—and I would also say publish—an appraisal of its impact on the built heritage, scheduled monuments and important landscapes. Amendment No. 175 would require an applicant for an order granting development consent to demonstrate full regard for conservation of the built environment, scheduled monuments and important landscapes. Under Amendment No. 187, an applicant would have to consult, during the pre-application process, English Heritage or Cadw, and under Amendment No. 214 the IPC in turn may accept an application for consideration only following its own consultation with English Heritage or Cadw.

Amendment No. 377 would require that an order granting development consent that affects any grade 1 or grade 2* listed building must be subject to special parliamentary procedure, on the analogy of provisions already in the Bill requiring special parliamentary

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procedures where a development order would affect local authority-owned land, National Trust land, and commons, open spaces and field garden allotments.

Amendment No. 439B would add to the list of what is regarded as infrastructure in Clause 202 buildings, monuments and sites that have been designated as significant heritage assets. I certainly contend that heritage should properly be regarded as infrastructure. In the past 10 years, recognition has at last come in all parts of the country, and especially in old industrial cities and areas facing difficulty in adapting to the modern economy, that heritage is a cardinal economic asset. The Government have strenuously and successfully promoted heritage-led economic regeneration in Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Norwich, where I live and where I am a board member of the Heritage Economic and Regeneration Trust, and many other places. A splendid instance of a comprehensive and imaginative plan for regeneration is the strategy for historic Gloucester now being developed by the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company.

It would be economic fecklessness to allow, in a hasty attempt to modernise the national infrastructure, economically valuable heritage assets—heritage infrastructure—to be destroyed. If, however, following careful cost-benefit analysis of development proposals that entail loss of heritage, it is decided that the greater advantage for the public interest is in the new development, then the community infrastructure levy should be available to support compensatory refurbishment of heritage assets in the same authority area. Amendment No. 442, therefore, provides that regulations may specify criteria for determining allocation of CIL resources to conservation of heritage in areas where development orders permit the loss of some part of the heritage.

If heritage-led developments have to pay the CIL, it will be particularly important that heritage should also be able to benefit from the CIL. Otherwise heritage, already too vulnerable for lack of both public and private investment, will be rendered poorer still. Heritage charities will also be intensely interested in the conclusion of the Government’s deliberations on charities and the CIL. I note the Government’s intention to discuss details of the CIL regime with key stakeholders and engage in full consultation on the CIL regulations. I trust that the heritage charities will be fully involved in these discussions and consultations.

Perhaps the most important of these amendments is Amendment No. 399, which would add a new clause establishing a general duty on all public authorities, in exercising planning functions, to have regard to the purpose of conserving the historic environment. In tabling this new clause, I am seeking to create a duty in relation to the historic environment analogous to the duty to conserve biodiversity set out in Section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, which stipulates:

“Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving biodiversity”.

The section goes on to say that conserving biodiversity includes,

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It defines “public authority” as a Minister of the Crown; the National Assembly for Wales; a public body, including a government department, a local authority and a local planning authority; a person holding an office under the Crown, created or continued in existence by a public general Act, or the remuneration in respect of which is paid out of money provided by Parliament; or a statutory undertaker.

It is excellent that we have created this widespread duty to conserve biodiversity. We should now create an equal widespread duty to conserve the historic environment. The proposed new clause in Amendment No. 399, borrowing the precise wording of the NERC Act, requires that:

“Every public authority must, in exercising its planning functions, have regard, so far as is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of conserving the historic environment”.

At the moment policy places decidedly less value on the historic environment than on biodiversity. The new clause would correct the imbalance.

Of course, there is no equivalent for the heritage of the United Nations Environment Programme Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992, but there should be; it is a challenge for those across the world who care about the built heritage and the historic environment to bring one into being. Meanwhile, there is no pressure through treaty commitment on the Government to write into legislation a similar duty in relation to the historic environment. However, they should do so.

It has been well said that heritage is the national imaginative fabric. It is the temporal dimension of our civilisation. Many people grieve at the casual desecration and waste of our heritage that has occurred in boom times at the hands of insensitive development. This is a moment, the end of a boom time and a historical turning point, when politicians in the western democracies need to re-examine the habitual assumptions of our politics. The cataclysms in the financial markets have brought home to our peoples that an unbalanced and excessive pursuit of material gain—the pursuit of wealth at almost any cost—leads to disaster. People are in revulsion against trashy values. They are questioning, with a new intensity of concern, the get-rich-quick values of the past 30 years. I do not, of course, say that we do not have to struggle might and main to retrieve our economy, but this is also a time when citizens will respond with relief and enthusiasm to policies which espouse non-material values, which enable continuity of the things that we have cherished and which help us to rediscover what can make us a decent, mutually supportive and respectful community. Among the best ways possible to do this will be for the Government to commit themselves much more strongly to policies that will sustain our heritage. I beg to move.

The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham: I stand, perhaps slightly predictably, to give my full support to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Howarth. Perhaps I should declare an interest: I serve as a member of the Council of Planning Aid and I was formerly a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Amendment No. 37 relates to national policy statements and to strategy. It seeks to ensure

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that the impact of any proposed statement of the built heritage, scheduled ancient monuments and important landscapes is assessed prior to publication—the emphasis is on the word “prior”—in other words, that historic environment considerations are afforded similar strategic status to sustainability, on the one hand, and to green environment considerations on the other.

I also speak in support of Amendment No. 175. It relates to the application of the new commission for development consent for particular proposals, where it seeks to ensure that all development applications specifically demonstrate that account has been taken of the historic environment in forming the application. I do not want to delay the Committee unduly with endless anecdotes, but there is considerable evidence of the impact of large infrastructure projects which is not always direct. The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, gave a couple of examples in his opening apologia. I cite Lowfield Heath, which is Grade II listed. The expansion of Gatwick has resulted in the loss of the village designed by William Burges. The cottages have been replaced by huge industrial units and car parks. The handful of remaining residents of the parish, all of whom must travel some distance to look after the church, can no longer manage that and the remarkable building now faces a very uncertain future. St Peter, Bickenhill, a Grade I church, survived motorways and factories, but not the increased over-flying and a possible airport expansion. The steady exodus of the population has led to its closure. St Clement’s, West Thurrock, a Grade I listed church, became redundant in 1977 as a direct consequence of the industrial development of the Thurrock estuary area. Those are just a few illustrations. Your Lordships might also like to note Harmondsworth, Harlington and Cranford which are all threatened by the Heathrow proposals.

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