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We have bound what we have done with a concern for heritage at every stage of the process and throughout the changes that we have made in the Bill. Given the earnestness with which I am saying this, I hope that noble Lords will understand that we have done everything conceivable to ensure that the protections that we currently enjoy are repeated and enforced in the Bill. I am grateful to my noble friend for allowing us to have such a thorough debate on this, but I hope at this point that he is satisfied that we have done our best and that we have satisfied his concerns.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, I warmly thank all noble Lords who have spoken. This has been an impressive debate and I hope that the Minister will acknowledge the significant expression of support for the proposed new clause from around the House. That, combined with the representations that have been made by the country’s leading heritage organisations, should, I still think, cause the Government to reflect carefully.

I am extremely disappointed by the Minister’s response. I will study carefully what she has said, but I do not think that she has advanced the argument. She says that I know that there is nothing sinister in the Government’s position, but the question that I am driven to ask is: is there a technical problem with the drafting of the Bill, or is there a political problem? She assured us that the DCMS is solidly with the DCLG in approving of the Bill as it is currently drafted, but it is difficult not to suppose that other government departments and agencies are extremely unwilling to see any satisfactory protection for heritage standing in the way of their ambitions and their requirements for moving rapidly forward with the development of new infrastructure. We are not against the development of new infrastructure; we are against the development of new infrastructure casually bulldozing our precious heritage. That is my fear.

I continue to believe that the protections that the Government are offering in the Bill are comparatively weak and insufficiently extensive. My noble friend makes the point that it would be a brave Minister who, having to bring regulations for affirmative approval before Parliament, dared to ignore the pledges that she has given on the record. There is some force in that point, but it remains the case that regulations are easily altered and that Parliament has little control over what regulations eventually do. I am also dissatisfied with what she said about parks, gardens and battlefields, because, as I said in my opening speech, government

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policy should be consistent. Government policy has been plainly declared in the Heritage Protection Bill and it is not right for the DCLG to disavow that Bill, which it seems to be doing.

I will think carefully about what my noble friend has said and I will consult further. I hope that there may be an opportunity for us to have another conversation in an amicable spirit, but we may well have to bring this issue and this proposed new clause back at Third Reading. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 32 [Meaning of “development”]:

Baroness Andrews moved Amendments Nos. 65 and 66:

65: Clause 32, page 20, line 1, after “Act” insert “(except in Part 11)”

66: Clause 32, page 20, line 9, after “Act” insert “(except in Part 11)”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 35 [Directions in relation to projects of national significance]:

[Amendment No. 67 not moved.]

Baroness Andrews moved Amendments Nos. 68 and 69:

68: Clause 35, page 22, line 16, leave out “one or more of the fields” and insert “a field”

69: Clause 35, page 22, line 22, leave out from first “in” to end of line 23 and insert “the same field”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 2 [Amendments consequential on development consent regime]:

Lord Jenkin of Roding moved Amendment No. 69A:

69A: Schedule 2, page 151, line 24, at end insert—

“Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (c. 5)

(1) The PCPA 2004 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 1(2) (regional spatial strategy) insert—

“(2A) In subsection (2) the Secretary of State’s policies include national policy statements.”

(3) In section 19(2)(a) (preparation of local plan documents) before “national policies” insert “national policy statements, other”.

(4) In section 38(5) (development plan) after “contained” insert “in a national policy statement or, where the conflict is not between a national policy statement and another document”.

(5) After section 117(3) (interpretation) insert—

“(3A) Expressions used in this Act and in the Planning Act 2008 have the same meaning in this Act as in that Act.””

The noble Lord said: My Lords, there has been a lot of discussion at various stages of the Bill, not least in our debate on the amendment which the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, just moved, about the relationship between national policy statements and other statements of government or local planning policy. Much of the discussion in the past has centred on whether the national policy statements should take account of existing planning policy statements, planning policy guidance, regional spatial strategies and local spatial strategies. A number of noble Lords, and indeed Members in the other place, wanted to import what they saw as the best of those into the national policy statements.

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The purpose of my amendment is to look at this the other way round. If, after all the consultation, all the parliamentary scrutiny and all the rest of it, a national policy statement is established, that statement will eventually be adopted by government. It is felt that it should carry greater weight in local matters than the existing local regional documents, spatial strategies and the rest. That point was put to me rather forcefully by the British Wind Energy Association, which recognises that a large number of wind farm proposals will be below the thresholds that fall to be dealt with by the Infrastructure Planning Commission and will therefore still come under local planning arrangements.

6 pm

It is well known—it was debated at some length during the passage of the Energy Bill; if the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, were here, he would recognise it—that many of these proposals for the smaller size of wind farms are still languishing in the planning system. In a debate recently I quoted from the headline of an article which suggested that if wind farms are not coming forward, one should blame the councillors, the implication being that it is local planning authorities which make it very difficult to obtain the necessary planning guidance to get wind farms up and running.

My amendments would amend the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to make it absolutely clear to those concerned with drawing up regional or local planning strategies that they have to have regard to national policy statements. I recognise that national policy statements are specifically designed to deal with major projects, but techniques such as wind farms come in all shapes and sizes and a large number of them will be dealt with, as I said, by local planning authorities.

These amendments make it clear that, because of the status they will have, the national policy statements should be regarded as the overriding guidance. If we had, as I expect we will eventually, a national policy statement covering the whole energy field, and then another one directed specifically at renewables or perhaps just at wind energy, the local planning authorities should take great account of those documents to ensure that the policies on the larger scale are consistent with those that are applied at the smaller scale. It is a comparatively simple point. However, if there is any conflict, as there may well be, between the two statements, the propositions in the national policy statement should prevail. One would hope that, over time, local planning authorities at the regional, county or district level would bring their strategies into line with the national policy statement.

This is a comparatively short point. In her note to noble Lords taking part in discussions on the Bill, the noble Baroness wrote:

“It is also worth noting that under existing planning law regional planning bodies and local authorities must have regard to national policies and guidance when preparing development plans such as Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks. NPSs will fall into this category of national policies and guidance, and therefore once an NPS is established, it should be reflected as appropriate in relevant development plans”;

and she went on to enlarge on that. That is not provided for in this Bill. There is no downward link

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between the NPS and the local planning strategies, which is clearly what the Government want. My amendments suggest that those amendments to the 2004 Act will implement what the Government have stated as their intentions. I hope that Ministers will be able to smile on my amendments or, if they are not properly drafted, that they will come back at Third Reading with something that parliamentary counsel would approve of. I beg to move.

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, I support the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin. I know from personal experience that wind farm applications in rural areas come up against a huge wall of resistance. Without some guidance or even a statement in the Bill along the lines suggested, wind energy, on which I believe our immediate future depends, will not play the part in our energy strategy that I know the Government desire. This is essential. I have dealt in local government with other matters of this sort, such as extracting minerals, finding encampments for Gypsies and the disposal of waste. Wherever you put them they will run up against huge prejudice and, no doubt, strong feeling locally, but they have to go somewhere. I warmly support the noble Lord’s proposal that planning policy guidance and national policy statements should take precedence over what I believe are local and often prejudiced concerns.

Lord Boyd of Duncansby: My Lords, I, too, support this amendment. I moved a similar amendment in Committee that related only to renewable energies, but this amendment better addresses the point that I sought to make. The point is well made in relation to wind energy, because we in this country have an objective to increase the amount of energy coming from renewable sources. Much wind energy will come from small-scale developments below the Bill’s threshold of 50 megawatts for a significant project. Those developments will therefore not be dealt with by the IPC, but they are critical to realising the national objectives of increasing the amount of energy from renewable sources.

There is a conceptual issue here. I perceive that this amendment will put national policy statements at the top of a hierarchy from which other policies cascade, particularly in relation to the development plan. I was involved as Lord Advocate in the change of planning regime in Scotland. In many respects this Bill is better than the one that we put forward in Scotland, but it perhaps falls down in one area; namely, the concept in Scotland of nationally significant projects, then major projects, and then local developments. There is a hierarchy of developments supported by a hierarchy of plans, with, at the apex of the planning system, a spatial policy, the national planning framework, within which are policies to support the development of renewable energy. In a sense, we have excised nationally significant projects and put them off to the Infrastructure Planning Commission with its own regime of national policy statements. We are asking the Government to ensure a consistency of approach from the top down to the bottom.

On the issue of wind energy, it is clear that there are many hold-ups in the system for introducing more renewables, such as connections to the National Grid. A good many of those hold-ups occur at the level of

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the local planning authority where it takes more time than is appropriate to obtain planning permission. There is a strong suspicion that part of the problem is that development plans do not recognise adequately the importance of renewable energy sources, particularly wind. In my submission, this is an important issue and we should ensure that there is consistency of approach.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I support this amendment and indeed tabled a similar one in Committee. As other noble Lords have said, it provides a way of linking in legislative terms the big projects with all those that fall below it and generally come under the term of projects that people do not want in their back yards. They include not only the wind farms that so many noble Lords have talked about, but also rail freight terminals—I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group—waste sites, hazardous waste disposal and ports. We have all come across examples of where people do not want developments in their back yards. I am not sure that you can have a mini nuclear reactor, but perhaps someone will come up with one of those.

The fact remains, as my noble and learned friend Lord Boyd has said so clearly, that we need a legislative link to ensure that policies at the top of big projects can cascade down and take precedence over the regional and local policies beneath them.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I recall introducing some years ago a debate about the use of the splendid buildings at Greenwich. When we were looking through the estate agent’s particulars, we discovered that there is a mini nuclear reactor on the site.

Members on these Benches are not in the business of detracting from local autonomy, so I speak to this amendment in order to urge clarity in understanding what applies to what rather than seeking to use national policy statements to impose policy at the local level. If the Government want to do that, they should do so through planning policy statements.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, for raising the issue. While I do not want to attribute this to other noble Lords, I am still quite confused about the hierarchy. When I raised a not completely unrelated issue last week on planning policy statements, the Minister said that they were “fundamentally different” as they are drawn up for different purposes, and distinguished the IPC where the NPS is the primary policy framework. I think that she could see my confusion—we were coming to the end of a fairly long day—and she said that she would write to me. I do not criticise the fact that I have not had a letter yet, as it has only been one or two working days, but we must finish our consideration of the Bill understanding exactly what the hierarchy is. If it is not a hierarchy but a series of completely separate pigeonholes, we need to understand that as well.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I want to add my ha’penny-worth to this amendment. My noble friend raises an important point that requires clarification. It is a matter of observation and practice that a great

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many small issues in local areas run into quite severe difficulties when in general principle they are desirable, even if that does not necessarily mean that they are right. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, I have difficulty with the idea that because something is in a national policy statement specifically designed to deal with really big national infrastructure projects, that principle will cascade through the existing guidance so that it has a relationship with regional spatial policies and so on. The linkage between national policy and regional spatial policy, which then cascades down to local planning authorities, is clear. I must admit that, until now, I have largely considered the Bill as very much outside of that field. However, my noble friend has raised a significant issue by asking how far this should apply.

With regard to the power generation sector, this country is likely to move quite seriously into what is known as dispersed generation and we will have a situation where many relatively small projects will produce a significant national effect. However, that will not happen if the projects are stopped at the local level. That is a real issue which needs to be considered because we all know how desirable and necessary these developments are. There are fiscal and other obstacles because at the moment many energy-friendly sources are, in relative cost terms, not particularly competitive. When we have a more effective carbon market, which I acknowledge is nothing to do with this Bill, some of those difficulties may be overcome and we will begin to see real incentives for people to push these proposals forward. At the moment, however, there are local difficulties.

My noble friend is right to put this proposal to the Government because we need to make the relationship absolutely clear. If this is not the right vehicle to deal with the problem, it needs to be thought about in another context.

6.15 pm

Lord Patel of Bradford: My Lords, I shall try to address comprehensively Amendment No. 69A, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin. I shall set the scene for a moment by saying that the amendment would amend the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to ensure that the policy set out in a regional spatial strategy must have regard to national policy, including national policy statements, when development plans are prepared. It would require local planning authorities to have regard to national policy statements in addition to other national policy when preparing their development plans, and would require them to give primacy to policies in the latest national policy statements over existing policies within a development plan.

We understand the concerns and intentions behind the amendment. However, let me explain why we believe that they are unnecessary and, I hope, reassure him and other noble Lords. Under the 2004 Act, regional planning bodies and local planning authorities must have regard to all national policies and guidance when preparing development plans. National policy statements will, by being what they are, naturally fall into the category of national policies and guidance, so there is no need for them to be specifically referenced.

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Of course, any national policy, including national policy statements, will need to be taken into account in the development of the regional and local plans that follow them. Indeed, there is a statutory requirement, under Sections 5(3)(a) and 19(2)(a) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, for regional planning bodies and local planning authorities to have regard to national policies and guidance when preparing development plans. Once a national policy statement is established, it should be reflected as appropriate and relevant in development plans, including regional spatial strategies and local development frameworks. In cases where development plans have not yet been updated to take account of a particular national policy statement, any relevant new policy in the NPS should be taken into account by the local planning authority as a material consideration in decisions on development applications. Given that the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act relates to the decision-making framework for the Town and Country Planning Act, we do not consider it appropriate to put an NPS on the same statutory footing as a development plan.

It would not be wise for NPSs to be given absolute primacy in local plans, which is what the amendment would achieve. The planning system is based on planning authorities having the flexibility to adapt national policies to local situations and local needs. While national policies clearly need to be reflected in local plans, we believe it is better to allow planning authorities to weave national policies, which would include national policy statements, into their local plans in their own way. For example, a local authority for an urban area might interpret a package of national policies, including national policy statements, which were not locationally specific differently from a planning authority for a rural area of outstanding natural beauty. In either case, they will have to have regard to the national policy statement but it will apply differently in their respective areas.

There are other safeguards. The Secretary of State has powers to make changes to a regional spatial strategy where a planning authority has ignored a relevant NPS in its preparation. With respect to the preparation of local development frameworks, documents are reviewed by an independent examiner who must be satisfied that they accord with national policy. Recommendations made by the examiner are binding. The Secretary of State also has the power to direct local authorities to make changes to documents and can, ultimately, call in the document and prepare it herself.

National policy statements are aimed primarily at providing a framework for the IPC to take decisions on major infrastructure projects. In addition, the planning White Paper indicated that national policy statements may also set out policies of relevance to local planning authorities taking decisions on smaller infrastructure applications, particularly with regard to renewable energy. The recent consultation on the national renewable energy strategy outlines the Government’s proposals for meeting the UK’s share of the EU-wide target for renewable energy. The consultation document on the strategy made clear our proposals for delivering renewable energy consents via the NPS and the town and country machinery, which I have just outlined. It makes clear

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the important role that planning plays and what we expect from good planning. Building on current policies, it sets out a number of ways in which improvements could be made to how renewable energy projects are planned and consented.

I should say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that NPS preparation will take account of existing government policies, including PPSs where relevant. Once a national policy statement is completed the relevant PPS may need to be updated, as appropriate, to reflect the national policy statement. I hope that reassures the noble Lord and that he will withdraw the amendment.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, as always, I am extremely grateful to other noble Lords who joined in the debate and supported the thoughts behind these amendments. In the light of what has been said, the Minister should recognise that there is confusion and that this needs to be resolved so that there is greater clarity about the relationship between the proposed new national policy statements and all the other planning instruments at the different levels of local government that the planning system has to work to. I shall certainly study carefully what the noble Lord, Lord Patel of Bradford, has said. He spoke very quickly and, if one is getting on in years, it is not always easy to follow everything, but I shall read carefully what he said.

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