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Ultimately, we are dependent on the Administrations making this work together. We think that there are enough incentives to enable that to happen. I would go back to the discussions in the summer and autumn of last year. Because of the intent expressed by all the Administrations, I am optimistic that they can see it is in everyone’s best interest that we work together. But we have to work within the devolution settlement, which makes it difficult to accede to the intent behind the amendment that we discussed two weeks ago about having a joint plan between the two Administrations.

Baroness Hamwee: On my amendments, the Minister seemed almost to be saying that one would recognise an area that is adjacent but not adjoining when one sees it. Would I be right in thinking that what is important is the context and the requirement for consultation and working with the relevant authorities,

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taking account of relevant plans and policies, rather than the detail of the definition? I am sorry to labour the point but someone at some time will say, “Well Parliament meant”, and it would be nice to know what we do mean.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I think that the noble Baroness is inviting me to say that this is a common sense approach and I endorse that.

Amendment 89BZB agreed.

Amendments 89BZC and 89BZD

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89BZC: Schedule 6, page 230, line 12, leave out from “region” to first “the” in line 13 and insert “adjoins or is adjacent to”

89BZD: Schedule 6, page 230, line 14, leave out paragraph (d)

Amendments 89BZC and 89BZD agreed.

Amendments 89BZE to 89BC not moved.

Amendments 89BB and 89BC not moved.

Amendment 89BD

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89BD: Schedule 6, page 230, line 21, leave out sub-paragraph (3)

Amendment 89BD agreed.

Amendments 89BE and 89BF not moved.

Amendments 89BG to 89BN

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89BG: Schedule 6, page 230, leave out lines 28 and 29 and insert—

““local planning authority” means an authority which is—

(a) a local planning authority for the purposes of Part 2 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (c. 5) (see section 37 of that Act), or

(b) a planning authority for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (c. 8) (see section 1 of that Act);”

89BH: Schedule 6, page 230, line 31, leave out “that Act” and insert “the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (c. 5)”

89BJ: Schedule 6, page 231, line 11, leave out “or Wales” and insert “, Wales or Scotland”

89BK: Schedule 6, page 231, line 13, leave out sub-paragraph (3) and insert—

“( ) For the purposes of this paragraph, one area is “related to” another if one or more of the following conditions is met—

(a) the one area adjoins or is adjacent to the other;

(b) the one area lies wholly or partly within the other;

(c) the whole or any part of the one area affects or is affected by the whole or any part of the other.”

89BL: Schedule 6, page 231, line 15, leave out sub-paragraph (4) and insert—

“( ) In the case of an area in England or Scotland, the “relevant Planning Act plan” is the development plan.

( ) In the case of an area in Wales, each of the following is a “relevant Planning Act plan”—

(a) the development plan;

(b) the Wales Spatial Plan.”

89BM: Schedule 6, page 231, leave out lines 19 and 20 and insert—

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““development plan”—

(a) in the case of an area in England or Wales, is to be read in accordance with section 38(2) to (4) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (c. 5);

(b) in the case of an area in Scotland, is to be read in accordance with section 24 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (c. 8);”

89BN: Schedule 6, page 231, line 22, leave out “that Act” and insert “the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (c. 5)”

Amendments 89BG to 89BN agreed.

Amendments 89C and 89CA not moved.

Amendments 89CB and 89CC

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89CB: Schedule 6, page 232, line 4, leave out “by, or”

89CC: Schedule 6, page 232, line 25, at beginning insert “the consideration of representations under paragraph 12 and”

Amendments 89CB and 89CC agreed.

Amendments 89D to 89FZA not moved.

Amendment 89FZB

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89FZB: Schedule 6, page 233, line 8, leave out “by, or”

Amendment 89FZB agreed.

Amendments 89FA to 89HA not moved.

Amendment 89HB

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

89HB: Schedule 6, page 234, line 25, leave out “by, or”

Amendment 89HB agreed.

Amendment 89HC not moved.

Amendment 89J

Moved by Baroness Hamwee

89J: Schedule 6, page 235, line 3, leave out “consider appointing” and insert “appoint”

Baroness Hamwee: Amendment 89J deals with whether there should be a mandatory independent investigation of all marine plans. Like others before it, this amendment has been suggested to us by the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition. The Government’s response to the pre-legislative—

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am sorry to intervene but there is a group starting with Amendment 89HC, 89JZAA and 90ZB. I want to clarify that we have not zoomed by that unintentionally.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Hooper): No, my Lords.

Baroness Hamwee: The next amendment on the groupings would have been under Amendment 89JZB, which is why I hesitated.

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: So, we are now debating Amendments 89J, 89JZA and 89JZC.

Baroness Hamwee: The information about amendments which were not to be moved was, I hoped, circulated earlier—otherwise the order of the groupings is a little confusing. Following the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the Government have improved the paragraph regarding independent investigation, but it is still discretionary and not mandatory, as is the case for the equivalent public examination of terrestrial planning. I understand that there is a concern that to have a mandatory arrangement would be too heavy and bureaucratic, but experience suggests that EIPs need not, and often do not, take long. My own experience of the EIP process on the London Plan was that it was a useful process. It took seven weeks, but given the size and complexity of London, that is not so very much time. Most importantly, it enabled all those with an interest—interest groups, statutory bodies and landholders—to become involved in an inclusive and participative but not overly bureaucratic process. Moreover, it was able to test the soundness of the plan’s evidence base and policies.

Amendment 89JZA is consequential on Amendment 89J, while Amendment 89JZC in the name of my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer would require the authority to have regard to the representations made during the process. I beg to move.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raises interesting points in these amendments, for which I have much sympathy and cautiously extend my support. As she acknowledged, they come from the Wildlife and Countryside Link, a consortium of nature conservation groups.

As it stands, the Bill requires only that a marine planning authority,

a consultation draft. Can the Minister expand on when he thinks it might be necessary to have an independent body carry out an investigation? If the clause is flexible enough to allow the marine plan authority only to “consider” appointing, there must be a line between the times when this would be advisable and those when it would not. Who will be the adjudicator of that arbitrary line? Will it be crossed if the proposals in the draft are more controversial, politically sensitive or hard-hitting than usual, or if they cost more money? I would appreciate some clarification.

We are also nervous of clogging up marine planning with yet more bureaucracy and paper. Perhaps the Minister can also expand on how he sees the process working. Will there be any guidelines on how an investigation should be structured, and how often will this process be necessary?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The noble Baroness raises the question of whether every marine plan should be subject to independent scrutiny before it is adopted and what regard the Secretary of State should have to the recommendations arising from such scrutiny in deciding whether to give his agreement to the adoption of a devolved marine plan.

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I shall deal first with Amendments 89J and 89JZA to paragraph 13 of Schedule 6. As currently drafted, this paragraph requires a marine plan authority to consider, after the public consultation and before adopting a plan, whether there is a need to appoint an independent investigator to investigate the proposed plan and report on it. In deciding whether to appoint an investigator, the marine plan authority must have regard to the various representations that people have made throughout the preparation of the plan and the public consultation. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, invites me to be very specific about when such a power should be used. However, I am going to resist that and say to him that the guiding principle is that it is intended to be used to resolve any issues that remain outstanding after the public consultation. Our aim is to ensure that the plans prepared have the support of the local community as well as the various industries, interest groups and regulators who, in one way or another, will be using the plan or subject to it. It is clearly in everyone’s interest to ensure that issues are resolved and consensus reached wherever possible. It will inevitably not be possible to please all of the interests all of the time and that is where an independent viewpoint might be helpful.

4 pm

We have learned from the examination in public process recently carried out in relation to regional spatial strategies under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. But there is a distinction, to which the noble Baroness fairly referred in her opening remarks, in that the marine environment is not the same as the land. A slightly different approach is justified, building on the best aspects of examination in public while recognising the different interests and issues that arise at sea. We have therefore put in place a mechanism to allow independent scrutiny, but we do not think that it is appropriate to make it mandatory for every plan.

The reason we do not believe it should be mandatory comes down to a point which the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, raised in his interesting comments about avoiding bureaucratic processes, a point which I well understand. In the debate on the planning Act, which I joined at a late stage, one could see that part of the legislation’s purpose was to address the frustrations felt by many with the past planning system. The point is that having an automatic inquiry would mean that there would be less incentive to reach a common position throughout the development of the plan. Two key themes have emerged from our debates on the Bill so far. First, lots of different interests are concerned about the marine environment. Secondly, to make it work we need people to work together. We therefore want to provide incentives throughout the Bill to encourage people to work together. We want people to engage actively in the planning process and to consider and resolve issues not only with the planning authority but with each other throughout in reaching a common agreement.

The interests likely to be affected at sea are rather different from those found on land. There are fewer personal and private property rights and more potential conflicts of principle about how best to manage, conserve or exploit our marine resources. We believe that the lower number of private property rights will reduce

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the need for an automatic independent inquiry. People will also have the opportunity via participation in the preparation of the marine policy statement to shape the Government's direction on these matters of principle, which will then be fed down into the marine plans.

We have also discussed why it may not be appropriate to plan in depth for all areas of the sea. Some areas are far less busy than others. It would not seem the best use of public resources to require an independent scrutiny if in practice there was no need for one. This approach also allows flexibility, so that the independent scrutiny process is proportionate to the issues raised. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, raised a point on regulation. I say to him that we want a proportionate approach to how we do it.

Of course people feel very strongly about the sea and the coast, particularly those for whom the sea provides their livelihood. We want to hear what they have to say. A plan which does not have the support of the local community, industry and interest groups is likely to be challenged, and this will make it harder for decision-makers and investors to rely on it. The short answer to the major questions raised is that we would commission an independent investigation wherever there are substantial unresolved issues, and where it can add value. If that were the case with every plan, the Bill would enable us to appoint an independent person.

Amendment 89JZC seeks to amend paragraph 15(2) of Schedule 6. This amendment could place the Secretary of State in a rather difficult position. I should like to explain a little more about why we have required the Secretary of State’s agreement to the adoption of devolved marine plans, although I realise that we shall debate this in relation to later amendments.

The purpose of requiring the Secretary of State to agree to the adoption of devolved marine plans is to ensure that non-devolved policies and functions are appropriately represented and protected in those plans. This final agreement should be a formality since we expect and indeed have every confidence that the devolved plan authorities will work closely with the Secretary of State and the UK Government throughout the planning process to ensure that we are content with their proposals. Following the agreement last autumn under the auspices of the joint ministerial committee, there are also a number of other fixed points during the planning process at which the Secretary of State must give his agreement, including before the publication of the statement of public participation and before the publication of the draft plan for public consultation, to minimise the chance of the Secretary of State being forced to veto a devolved plan because of its potential effect on “retained” functions. We have also agreed between Administrations our wish to work constructively together and to produce an agreed MPS and plans.

The purpose of the Secretary of State’s agreement is not to reopen the plan to further representations once the marine plan authority is ready to adopt it. As I said, Amendment 89JZC could oblige the Secretary of State to consider the representations made by another person in addition to those made by the independent inspector—perhaps representations made by someone who

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did not agree with the inspector’s recommendations—leaving the Secretary of State to choose between the views of that person or the independent investigator even if the inspector’s report recommended that the draft plan was satisfactory. We do not think that that amendment would make the process of developing and adopting a marine plan any more transparent or inclusive. Where an independent investigator has endorsed a plan, or where his recommendations have been addressed by the plan authority, we would expect the Secretary of State to give his agreement to that plan, as long as he was content with its effect on matters which are not devolved to the plan authority.

Paragraphs 12 and 14 of Schedule 6 require the plan authority to give careful consideration to any representations made about the plan during its preparation and the public consultation as well as those made by an independent investigation, where this has taken place. If it chooses not to implement those recommendations, it is also required by paragraph 15 to give its reasons for that decision. We should not ask the Secretary of State to second-guess the investigator.

I hope that I have reassured noble Lords that there are positive reasons for there not being an automatic investigation and that the whole effort is to try to reach consensus. However, where it is not possible to reach consensus on serious matters, it is entirely appropriate for an investigation to be triggered at that stage.

Baroness Byford: In the earlier part of that very full response, for which we are grateful, the Minister clearly stated that many people will have an interest in these plans, which I accept, and that the ambition is to work together, which we all accept. However, I was slightly worried by his mention of fewer people having personal and private property rights. I hope that he was in no way implying that because just a few people are involved, their case will not be heard fully. He is shaking his head. I wanted to clarify that.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The noble Baroness is right to raise the point. I was saying that because there will be fewer people with property rights, the independent examination process is less likely to come into play. I was drawing a comparison between the situation in the marine area and that referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, which is the examination in public process under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. The noble Baroness, Lady Byford, is right to say that nothing that I have said should imply that persons with private property would not have the right to be heard.

Baroness Byford: I have no difficulty with that. Clearly if there are fewer people involved, unlike on land, obviously one person will be speaking on his own behalf rather than a group of people speaking for a local community. I am anxious that the Bill should clarify that that person’s views would be heard in the normal way, and that his rights should be exactly the same as if it were a multiple response to the plan.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful to the Minister for his long response, and will leave it to my noble friend Lady Miller to consider his comments on her Amendment 89JZC.

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With regard to my two amendments I am a little puzzled. The Minister started by explaining that there were likely to be fewer outstanding issues when dealing with marine plans, but one of the difficulties is knowing whether there are outstanding issues. I take the point that allowing people to be involved in something that is equivalent to an examination in public helps to reconcile those who may not be satisfied with the substance or at any rate the process, because they feel that they have been given a fair hearing. One sees that from planning development control applications upwards. There is value in thrashing out matters of principle as well as private property rights in this sort of forum. He talked, too, about there being less incentive to reach consensus if there is an independent investigation. I confess that I do not follow that. The only incentive would be on the Government. I cannot see that there would be an incentive on others.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We all recognise that a lot of different interests will come to the fore in the development of any marine plan. The intention is that the process will allow for widespread engagement of those with an interest as the plan is developed. The marine plan authority has to have regard to various representations made throughout the preparation of the plan and the public consultation. That is all there to be done. For that reason I should have thought it a perfectly sensible proposition that the aim all along is to reach a strong consensus.

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