|Back to Table of Contents
|Lords Hansard Home Page
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his detailed reply. One can always rely on the noble Lord, Lord Woolmer, to come up with penetrating questions of detail, which have tested the Minister. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate for the general support that they have given and I am grateful for the sentiments expressed by the Minister in giving support to the concepts that lie behind these amendments. I am pleased that in the matter of Clause 42 there is likely to be specific secondary legislation. I am grateful for that and for the fact that a memorandum will reflect the debate and the contribution of the Minister. Perhaps noble Lords are wrong to anticipate the royal prerogativethe speech from the Throneas we have done to some degree today. On the other hand, it is nice to have something to look forward to. On those grounds, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
( ) air passenger transport services for at least 50,000 air transport movements of passenger aircraft per year,
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I will also speak to Amendments Nos. 58 and 59. The amendments take us to the definition of airport development for the purposes of nationally significant infrastructure projectsin other words, what will come within the IPC regime. They would add the criterion of aircraft movements to that of the numbers of passengers in the threshold.
The words not necessarily are important there. It would be naive to think that there is never an issue around aircraft movements and the experience is that more and more passengers are squeezed through terminalspace terminal 5.
We acknowledge the impact from the numbers of passengers. My particular purpose in tabling the amendments is to ask the Government in turn to acknowledge the impact from the number of flights and the number of aircraft movements. I include in those the empty and half-empty flights maintained, as my noble friend Lady Tonge said in Committee, by airlines in order to preserve their slots. Surely both the runway capacity and terminal capacity determine overall capacity.
I found this a difficult issue because I start from the principle of not wanting to support the Infrastructure Planning Commission and not wanting to push more decisions its way. However, it is important to be clear. How do the Government regard aircraft movements?
10 Nov 2008 : Column 466
It is important to establish the impact of aircraft movements as well as of numbers of passengers. I do not need to repeat arguments about the impact on the ground of both noise and movements of other sorts of traffic; I will not take the time of the House to do that. However, it is essential that it is understood locally that aircraft movements have an important impact on the quality of life of those who have to suffer them while not being on the flights. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I find this amendment rather interesting, because the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is trying to put a limit of 50,000 air transport movements of passenger aircraft a year into the same subsection of the Bill where there is a limit of 10,000 air transport movements of cargo aircraft every year. In terms of noise, it does not make much difference whether a plane is carrying passengers or freight; it is still noisy or not, depending on ones point of view. I assume that she has calculated the figure of 50,000 by taking an average passenger plane carrying about 200 people and converting it down from the 10 million passengers a year, which seems reasonable to me. However, it is also interesting to note that Clause 23(3) refers to a limit of 10 million passengers a year or 10,000 air transport movements of cargo aircraft a year, but not both. I am not sure that the amendment contributes a great deal to understanding this subsection, which is a bit confusing anyway, but perhaps my noble friend can explain whether and rather than or should be inserted between paragraphs (a) and (b), and whether it makes much difference whether planes are carrying cargo or people.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, these amendments continue the debate that we had in Committee about the airports threshold set out in Part 3 and in particular why we have phrased it in terms of the numbers of passengers who could use an airport rather than the number of air traffic movements. As I stated in Committee, we arrived at the threshold having gone through an extensive consultation process for the planning White Paper, on which this Bill is based.
The noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, suggested in Committee that EU regulations specified a threshold of 50,000 air traffic movements. We have researched this point, but the only relevant EU legislation that we can find that mentions a threshold of 50,000 air traffic movements are EU regulation 1794/2006 on a common charging scheme for air navigation services and the environmental noise directive 2002/49/EC. However, neither of these appears to us to have any relevance to the issue at hand. The regulation concerns reporting systems for the costs of air navigation services at airports. It specifies that, in respect of airports handling more than 50,000 commercial air traffic movements a
10 Nov 2008 : Column 467
However, the issue in this Bill is different. It is whether a proposed airport development is of such a scale that it should count as nationally significant and go to the IPC rather than through the local planning system. Our judgment, based on analysis and consultation, is that the figure of 10 million passengers constitutes the right threshold in respect of proposals having regard to passenger services. This would, for example, have taken in the recent decision to allow Stansted to increase the number of passengers using its existing runway.
Our concern about the noble Baronesss amendment is that it might capture projects that do not involve increases in air traffic that are of such national significance. Our data suggest that, based on average current loadings, the 50,000 air traffic movements proposal in her amendment is equivalent to only about 5 million additional passengers nationally and about 7.5 million at Heathrow. Therefore, it would have the effect, which I do not think the noble Baroness intends, of having more proposals considered by the IPC, whereas I understand that she wishes to see fewerindeed, noneconsidered by the IPC. Given her general position on the Bill, her amendment would move it in the wrong direction from her point of view.
The noble Baroness asked me a specific question about our view of the impact of proposals including air traffic movements. I stress that of course we fully accept that increases in the number of air traffic movements will affect people who live in the vicinity of an airport and that increases above 50,000 air traffic movements may affect them a great deal. However, as with other such local planning matters, these issues should be properly addressed by the local planning system with its manifold provisions for consultation. We would expect the local planning system to take full account of those issues, which do not constitute a threshold that would justify such proposals coming to the IPC.
The noble Baroness also asked whether local impact assessments could properly take account of air traffic movements. That would indeed be a proper matter to take account of. In respect of the question asked by my noble friend Lord Berkeley, it is or in the Bill. However, I am told that 50,000 air traffic movements at a freight airport is so large as not to capture any foreseeable projects, so I am not sure whether there is a real issue here in any event.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thought that we were dealing with the unforeseeable as well as the foreseeable. I readily acknowledge and had already acknowledged the dilemma that I presented myself with as to whether the Bill should be changed. I had wrestled with the and/or issue for quite some time.
The local authorities group SASIGI cannot remember what that stands for, but it is the group within the LGA of local authorities that are particularly
10 Nov 2008 : Column 468
I am sorry that my noble friend Lady Tonge is not here to deal with the finer detail of EU provisions and I shall not attempt to answer that point. I thank the Minister for the assurances that he has given. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am deeply reluctant to steal the thunder of my noble friend Lord Berkeley, because these are his amendments. They are drafting amendments that better capture the objective that we were seeking than the wording in the Bill, in respect of the use of the term goods in preference to container. We agree with him that this is an improvement to the Bill. I am very glad to move the amendment and, in doing so, to accept the points that my noble friend made at an earlier stage of consideration of the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, briefly, I am very grateful to my noble friend. We got in a bit of a muddle about who was to move the amendments. I am really grateful to the officials in both departments for making the changes from container to goods. I find quite funny the need to define a goods train as meaning,
The answer took me a little by surprise because I was not seeking assurances on that. I would have thought that it was quite conceivable that part of a project was viable without the whole. What happens if a developer wants to proceed with a part, not the whole? I continue to probe, very gently and fairly briefly, because of issues around the aggregate of several developments being below the threshold. At the previous stage the Minister said that the wording of the clause would not prejudice the promoters ability to carry out works below the thresholds, but that did not quite relate to my point.
On Amendment No. 69, the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, said at that time, as I recall it, that she thought that we had a point, but I shall leave it to my noble friend to explain the amendment. I am sure that the Government will want to say why they are changing the Bill and why they feel they do not need to sign up to my words. However, it is a delight to see an amendment that is headed: Baroness Hamwee, Lord Greaves, Baroness Andrews. I am grateful to the Government. I beg to move.
Lord Adonis: My Lords, I shall be moving government Amendment No. 123 in this group. It is a purely technical amendment, simply a drafting change for the sake of clarity. The provisions on nationally significant infrastructure rely on a definition of development that is not necessarily completely the same as that used in Part 11 in relation to the community infrastructure levy. Our amendment ensures that the distinction is maintained.
The noble Baroness will be delighted to hear that we accept Amendment No. 69. She has persuaded usas my noble friend Lord Berkeley did in the previous groupthat it can improve the Bill in respect of clusters of projects, such as groups of wind farms in close proximity to each other which should be considered together for a better overview of their cumulative impact. It is not our intention that the Secretary of State will have a power to direct projects in different fields to the IPC together as a cluster. They must be in the same field together. The noble Baronesss point is very well taken in that regard. We are therefore glad to accept Amendment No. 69.
On Amendments Nos. 63 and 67 and why the words or forms part of are included in the Bill, as the noble Baroness knows, we have set out thresholds in Part 3, and a project that meets these thresholds will subsequently be designated a nationally significant infrastructure project. Clause 31 ensures that to the extent that development will be carried out to further this overall project, development consent will be required for that development. Of course, it will be up to individual promoters which development works they choose to include in an application for development consents. At the very minimum, they must include those works that have a direct bearing on the construction of something which meets the thresholds in Part 3.
However, there may well be additional works, both onsite and elsewhere, that serve supporting functions to the main NSIP works. They might be needed for the purposes of preparation or finishing, to facilitate benefits, or to mitigate impacts. We want promoters of NSIPs to include in their development consent applications all relevant works, whether they are directly related to the main Part 3 thresholds or whether they form part of the wider projects. Therefore, under Clause 30, such development which forms part of a nationally significant infrastructure project will in future require development consent.
A promoter may wish to carry out development which is unrelated to a nationally significant infrastructure project. We want to ensure that promoters can carry out such development separately and enjoy existing permitted development rights where appropriate. As I mentioned in Committee, we do not want to create a loophole that allows promoters to salami-slice NSIP development into smaller chunks of work, which could therefore slip under the thresholds. For example, harbour facilities are not defined as such in the Bill but will often involve construction of a range of different things, such as a port access road, a container terminal, warehousing, berths for ships and so on. Together, they would make up a whole viable project. The proposed facilities need to be looked at as a whole to see whether the quantity threshold will be met. If they will, we want to ensure that development consent is required for each part of the development that forms part of the proposed project.
On that basis, we believe that the words or form part of are required to ensure that a developer cannot get round the need for development consent by separating out the types of development that go into an NSIP. I hope that, with that explanation, the noble Baroness will be able to withdraw her amendment and take some comfort from the fact that, where we have been persuaded by her arguments in relation to the later amendments, we have accepted them.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am looking ahead but cannot find the provision quickly enough. I wonder how this fits in with associated development, which is the term that we have had a bit of difficulty with. However, I think I understand that explanation better than I did the one on the previous occasion, which is all to do with me and nothing to do with the explanations. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
In considering whether to designate a statement as a national policy statement or in considering whether to grant development consent which affects a listed building, scheduled monument, conservation area or a registered park, garden or battlefield, the Secretary of State or, as the case may be, the Commission shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving such assets, their settings or any features of special interest which they possess.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, in Committee the Minister, my noble friend Lady Andrews, assured us that there was no intention on the part of the Government not to carry forward into the new regime for planning
10 Nov 2008 : Column 471
Having reflected carefully on all that she said, however, and having taken expert advice, I remain unpersuaded that the Bill succeeds in carrying forward those protections adequately. I am fortified in this view by the consultations that I have had with leading heritage organisations. Having spoken to the National Trust, the Historic Houses Association and Heritage Link, which represents the voluntary heritage sector, I have found that they all share my view that the Bill as it is, and the assurances so far given, fail to provide sufficiently robust protection for the heritage. They have all written to me confirming this, and I understand that each of the organisations has made its own representations to the Secretary of State. Sir Patrick Cormack MP, on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Arts and Heritage, has also written to the Secretary of State expressing the same anxiety.
Subsections (5) and (6) of Clause 102 require the commission to comply with existing laws. These existing laws, however, are not general but specific to the exercise of existing planning controls. The laws in question are the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. They apply only to the existing planning consent regime. This Bill, of course, creates a new development consent regimea separate sphere of planning law and policy for nationally significant infrastructure projectswhich the existing regime does not control. Indeed, Clause 33 specifically disapplies the protections for the heritage in the 1979 and 1990 Acts.
My noble friend has offered the comfort that the Government intend to replicate the test set out in Sections 66 and 72 of the 1990 Act in the decision test in Clause 102 for the IPC and in Clause 103 for the Secretary of State. Clause 102(2)(c) gives the Secretary of State power to make regulations prescribing matters to which the IPC must have regard. Clause 103(2)(b) provides the same power for cases when the Secretary of State is the decision-maker. In Committee on 8 October, my noble friend said:
We intend that in considering whether to grant development consent that would affect a listed building, the IPC shall have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses, and likewise for cases of major projects which affect scheduled monuments and conservation areas. To make that clear we intend to prescribe these matters in the decision test under the powers already in Clause 101(2)(c),[Official Report, 8/10/08; col. 293.]
|Back to Table of Contents
|Lords Hansard Home Page