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The noble Lord, Lord Tyler, mentioned his concerns about the economic and social consequences, but none the less accepted that they were an important part of this issue. The whole House can accept that they will not go away. My noble friend Lady Byford said that she understood the need for balance on this issue. My own position is that I am not here as an advocate for the socio-economic consequences. I am here in order to try and make sure that we articulate the case for balance, which I think is the Minister’s position. Governance requires that advocacy of interest should be in the public interest and not in a cause. I am just as much against marine conservation zones being designated to a socio-economic agenda as I would be to them being solely designated on the conservation agenda. I am seeking to find a way whereby marine conservation zones can be considered durable and sustainable so that they are worthy of the investment made in them by those who believe in marine conservation. Socio-economic activities do exist in the sea and how they can be part of marine conservation is, surely, what the whole of this Bill is about.

I am very grateful for the support that my amendment has had in parts. I note the criticism and I believe it has shown how seriously the House is taking the Bill and this particular element of the Bill which lies at the heart of its purpose. In the nature of these things, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 127 withdrawn.

Amendments A128 and A129 not moved.

8.45 pm

Amendment A130

Moved by Baroness Hooper

A130: Clause 114, page 68, line 25, at end insert—

“( ) seascape”

Baroness Hooper: In general, the approach and aim of the amendment that I and Members of the Committee of all sides have tabled is to conserve and enhance the marine environment by raising awareness of the importance of heritage, historic and archaeological considerations. Both Ministers who have answered two previous debates on these issues gave some comfort and useful explanation in support of the principle. For that, of course, we are duly grateful. So far, however, they have not been prepared to agree that this should be made clear in the Bill.

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I therefore move Amendment 130, which would add “seascape” to Clause 114 as a separate ground for designation. By “seascape”, I mean an area of sea, coastline and land, the character of which results from the actions and interactions of land with sea by natural or human factors. This definition is based on the definition of “landscape” set out in the European Landscape Convention, to which the United Kingdom is a signatory. It is intended to reflect the fact that the convention embraces the seas as well as land. Adoption of our amendment would contribute to the fulfilment of the Government’s obligations under the convention, which is in itself an important point.

The amendment would ensure that, by broadening the purposes for which marine conservation zones are designated, our nationally important seascapes can be formally recognised. In so doing, we would ensure that the full breadth of the marine environment is protected within a truly sustainable framework contained in the marine plans in the Bill. The Bill relates to one, albeit important, dimension of the marine environment, about which we have just now heard a considerable amount: nature conservation.

However, the important point is that seascapes are not defined simply by the view. They embrace not only the natural world as expressed in terms of biodiversity and physical features, but also the human world in terms of historic and cultural heritage, opportunities for recreation and enjoyment, scenic resources—another way of saying “views”—and connections and associations between them. Amendment 131, spoken to on a previous Committee day by the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, also sought to do this, but perhaps in a slightly wider way. In support of the Government’s obligations under the European Landscape Convention, English Heritage has been undertaking a programme of historic seascape characterisation, the results of which should help the Government in reaching their conclusions.

The issue for coastal protected landscapes is that there is no means of recognising seascapes in statute. The current system of planning and management of coastal protected landscapes does not embrace the marine environment. There is an artificial divide between land and sea, with no recognition of the continuum between them that is so important for our coastal protected landscapes. The statutory management plans and development plans for these areas stop at the mean low-water mark, rendering them useless for planning and managing the special qualities derived from the marine environment. This is why we want to try to do something about it.

The Bill provides an opportunity to address the issue, but it does not provide a mechanism for designating seascapes, notwithstanding the indication in the marine Bill consultation of 2006 that a mechanism was under consideration that could protect, inter alia, important seascapes and views. This possibility was not followed through in the White Paper of 2007; however, it was indicated that important seascapes and views from land would be considered in the marine planning process, and that the United Kingdom’s marine policy statement could include objectives describing the importance of seascapes and views and how we wish to treat them. More detailed plans would allow us to

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consider seascapes and views in the context of the priorities for specific areas. While in some ways it will be important for the conservation of seascapes and views from land to be addressed in the marine plan process, the absence of any mechanism for defining our nationally important seascapes, including the seaward extent of our coastal-protected landscapes, is a fundamental weakness of the marine planning system proposed in the Bill that could so easily be put right if our amendment were accepted.

I suspect that the Government will deploy the argument that the marine planning statement and the marine plans will be the way that seascapes can be dealt with. I accept that this is one way of doing so and will welcome any statements from the Minister which make this clear. There remains the concern that there is no mechanism to designate nationally important seascapes without amending the Bill. Can the Minister explain why, during the consultation on the Bill in 2006, Defra seemed to think that seascapes could be dealt with by marine conservation zones—then called marine protected areas—and on what basis this was dropped? Also, how will the national importance of particular seascapes be expressed in the marine policy statement or in marine plans without any form of designation process?

I am troubled by the Government’s attitude to our amendments on these issues. There seems to be an assumption that it is not necessary to take advantage of this Bill to protect not only natural flora and fauna but also our marine heritage. Goodness knows it has taken long enough to reach these heritage amendments because of the extent of debate on other aspects of the Bill, suggesting it is not regarded as perfect as it stands in many respects. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, said earlier that it will be a long time before we have another opportunity of a marine Bill and that is why we want to take full advantage of this one to do as much as possible to get our marine heritage protected. As the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer reminded us, conservation issues are not mentioned in the long title and heritage issues are in the same boat.

There is considerable concern in your Lordships’ House on this issue and many organisations worry about the outcome of our deliberations. I will mention some because it is a distinguished group—the Campaign for National Parks, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, the English National Park Authorities Association, Europarc Atlantic Isles, the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the National Trust, the Welsh Association of National Parks Authorities and English Heritage.

The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, had hoped to be here to support the amendment, and he asked me to say that it has his full support but, unfortunately, he had to leave. There are many others who wish to speak in support of the amendment, so I should allow them to have their say. I beg to move.

Lord Howarth of Newport: I am extremely glad to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, who has so persuasively and powerfully moved the amendment, to which I have added my name. I owe a quick apology

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to the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, who gave us an extremely useful introduction to this issue when he spoke to what was in a different incarnation Amendment 106CA all that time ago; it was actually only last week. I was not cited on his amendment at that point, which I anticipated being grouped with this one at a later stage.

The noble Baroness, Lady Hooper—I regard her as a friend—has just given noble Lords a list of organisations that support her amendment. That is a very formidable body of expert opinion, which speaks on behalf of a very formidable body of public opinion. I hope that the Minister will take this issue with a corresponding seriousness.

The amendment adds “seascape” to an already bruised and battered Clause 114. It is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory definition of “seascape”. It is not straightforward, but it is not impossible. The noble Baroness gave a very useful definition, but she will not mind my saying that it is neither elegant nor precise. Noble Lords should not worry too much. It derives from the European Landscape Convention, and if it sounds like what it is—a translation of bureaucratic Eurospeak—I hope that noble Lords will not allow that to put them off, because it deals with an extremely important reality. As the noble Baroness suggested, to ensure that there is definition and rigour in our terminology and that we pin down this important reality, English Heritage has for some years been engaged in a programme called England’s Historic Seascapes, extending the methodology of historic landscape characterisation into the marine zone. The programme has addressed the challenges involved in compiling a GIS database to present an area-based view of the historic character of England’s coastal and marine zones.

The need for an informed understanding of the interacting cultural and natural factors bearing on any given area is as vital for the future management of marine zones as it is on land. I make the point, which the Minister must regard as valuable, that this work that English Heritage has been doing for some years has been funded by Defra through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. Pilot studies were made and have been evaluated, and the upshot is that English Heritage now has established a robust method for historic seascape characterisation. I understand that, thanks to the prospect of further ALSF funding which has been committed, by 2011 some 75 per cent of England’s seas and adjacent waters will have been studied using this method. As the noble Baroness said, it makes no sense whatsoever to persist with an artificial divide between land and sea in our policy for planning management and development control.

Consider how many areas of outstanding natural beauty, how many national parks and, of course, how many heritage coasts adjoin the sea and draw much of their special character from that relationship. One example is the Isles of Scilly, which the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, mentioned in a previous speech. I would add the north Norfolk coast, the Gower peninsula, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park—areas which I personally know and love. The relationship between the sea and the land is crucial in all the aspects the

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noble Baroness mentioned. Yet, as she said, at present our statutory management and development plans stop at the mean low-water mark.

In the 2007 report on the inquiry into the proposed South Downs national park, the inspector recommended that consideration be given to statutory provisions that would allow marine areas beyond the mean low-water mark to be part of a national park. It is curious that the Bill omits to deal with this issue. As the noble Baroness reminded us, in the marine Bill consultation in 2006 the Government indicated that a mechanism was under consideration that could protect important seascapes and views. The White Paper in 2007 was a little more blurred but not discouraging. So what has happened? Why has this been left out of the Bill? This amendment is intended at the very least to jog the Government’s memory. In so doing I remind the Minister that the power already exists in Scotland to create coastal and marine national parks. We need equally for England statutory power to designate our finest and most important seascapes, including the marine dimension of nationally protected landscapes on the coast.

9 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I was pleased to put my name to this amendment. I support what the two previous speakers have said. The noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, spoke of the interaction between sea and land. When we are legislating we should bear in mind that that legislation should be meaningful to the general population. Looking at this clause and what it designates, it refers to geological and geomorphological features, which are important, but seascapes, as described by the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, are what make it real to people. It is no coincidence that the BBC series Coast, which is now a long-running series on another channel as well, is so incredibly popular. It is no coincidence that, when the National Trust has had an appeal to buy bits of coast, hundreds of thousands of people have given some money. The area between land and sea is very special to them.

It is a gap in the Bill that it can refer to geology and geomorphology but not bring things together to refer to seascape. The noble Lord, Lord Howarth, mentioned the AONBs, the National Parks and so on. Many of the AONBs got their designation primarily because of the seascape; primarily because of that interaction which is so exciting. I am lucky enough to live in one in North Devon and enjoy it every weekend. It never fails to excite, even if you walk only a very short part of the coast path. The Government are so right in having the ambition to bring the coast path to the whole country, as it is aiming to do with the Bill. What a shame it would be if it did that without recognising the important part that seascapes play.

Lord Judd: I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, on introducing the amendment. I urge my noble friends to take it seriously in their response. I am sure they will. I should declare an interest as vice-president of the Council of National Parks. I remind my noble friends that one of the great achievements of the Labour Government after the Second World

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War was to introduce the national parks and put them into legislation. Central to that was a concern with landscape. The Bill is immensely important. It is a very good Bill, which I have warmly welcomed—any deliberations that we have had have simply been about how to improve it even further. It is an historic Bill. It would be very sad, when we are passing such an excellent Bill that has so much to be said for it, if we missed this opportunity of recognising seascapes.

We talk a great deal these days about what it is to be British and about Britishness. The great thing about Britain is that it is a group of islands. Characteristic of that group of islands—its reality—is the interplay between land and sea. We have a tremendous opportunity to get that reality—that creative, imaginative reality; that wonderful dimension, which is unique in some ways to the United Kingdom—into the heart of the Bill. I hope that my noble friends will take seriously the arguments that have been put forward so well and I look forward to their response.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: I support the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, who introduced this important amendment. I happen to have Pembrokeshire blood in my veins. The creation of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, to which the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, referred, was a great achievement. Its coastal path is about 180 miles long and is breathtaking in many respects. Some of my family originate from the small hamlet Amroth, from which you can see Tenby and the tremendous seascape at the start of the Pembrokeshire coast path. From there, around Stackpole Rocks, the whole of the Pembrokeshire coast is a magnificent thing. Even Milford Haven, despite its oil terminal and so on, retains a bit of a wild factor. Somehow or other that development has lived with the national park—sometimes precariously, particularly when gas is mentioned. That has been a way of achieving recognition of a seascape, and it is a wonderful heritage for future generations.

Lord Greenway: I have enormous sympathy with this amendment, although it contains a number of difficulties. We can all immediately think of half a dozen wonderful seascapes that should be preserved. Anyone who lives near the sea would feel that their view of the sea is of a seascape that should be preserved. The Government and other noble Lords will be aware that the proposed offshore wind farm site off the Jurassic Coast in Dorset has been moved nearer Poole. I am not certain whether that will please the rich residents of Sandbanks. From another point of view, it could be argued that the seascape from the Isle of Wight looking down over the Needles is particularly wonderful. How will that stand if a wind farm appears in the distance?

Lord Tyler: As the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper, and the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, said, we had a preliminary skirmish on some of these issues in a previous group, in which my Amendment A131 appeared—perhaps it was slightly peculiarly allocated. We did not use the word “seascape” because we were having some difficulty with it but very much the same sort of issues were raised.

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I reinforce the point made by my noble friend Lady Miller. Many issues in this Bill will be of concern to a comparatively small minority. The major issues of conservation, fishing and so on are important but to a comparatively small minority. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, we are now talking about issues that are of considerable importance to a huge number of our population. Some people think of the heritage of Britain in terms of us as a maritime nation—the interrelation between the land and the sea and the communities around our coastline; they are incredibly important to a huge number of people. It would be very sad if we thought of that as a less important issue than the scientific preservation of species in the marine environment. It is important to our nation that we recognise the significance of what the noble Baroness has inserted in this amendment—the seascape. It is not an easy word to define, but we all know what we are talking about. I strongly support the amendment.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: I fully support my noble friend’s amendment and hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to it, and indeed welcome it. There have been few debates that have matched the poetry of the contributions of various Members. Even the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, waxed poetic about the view of Poole from the Isle of Wight, although he was less enthusiastic about the amendment.

The amendment would add greatly to the appeal and prestige of the Bill. My noble friend rightly raises a feature of the marine environment that gives enormous pleasure to a large number of people, as well as encompassing unique and valuable natural landscapes and features.

We have already discussed the difficulty of defining precisely where the UK marine area starts and the land stops. This is also a problem for conservation bodies based on land. Many features in need of protection straddle both land and sea, where current legislation does not extend. As the Minister has reminded us throughout our work in Committee, the Bill presents a rare opportunity to provide protection for our marine seascapes that will complement the existing territorial provisions. I hope that the Minister will listen carefully to my noble friend’s points, and reassure us that these features will be included in the Bill.

Lord Davies of Oldham: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken to the amendment, and to the noble Baroness for moving it. I have noted the passion with which arguments have been advanced, and do not for one moment underestimate the importance of the issue. I note in passing that several noble Lords confessed to having problems with the definition of “seascape”. The proposal is to introduce the term into the Bill, but it is difficult to define and the noble Baroness’s gallant attempt did not meet with the complete approval of one of her keenest supporters on these issues, my noble friend Lord Howarth. I could almost feel him recoiling from the elegance of the language.

Lord Howarth of Newport: I assure my noble friend that I fully support the definition put forward by the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. It is a serious point: the language was chosen because it draws precisely on

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the European Landscape Convention, which the Government have signed. It will not do for the Government now to say, “It is a bit vague, and not a perfect definition”. It is a sufficient working definition, and the Government have by implication committed themselves to its endorsement.

Lord Davies of Oldham: It is a working definition, but that does not mean that it fits into the Bill in the way that the noble Lord has indicated. The concept was a good deal vaguer than that, and the definition lacked elegance. I hear what my noble friend says when he insists that he supports the principle: I do not for one moment suggest otherwise. I was just sharing with him a slight hesitation about the inelegance of the language. That is because it was designed for another role, not for the purposes of definition in the Bill. The landscape quality objectives—as expressed in the language of Europe—were to be implemented through the Council of Europe.

9.15 pm

This Bill is more precise than the rather vague exhortations contained in that definition. Yet when all noble Lords, who have thought seriously and with great passion about this matter, come to the definition which will fit within the Bill—I listened carefully to every speech—I heard no answer. Inevitably in its prescriptions, the Bill has aspects of clear definition. How could it be otherwise when the Bill is premised on the assumption of serious scientific evidence? That is the basis of this conservation measure. Most of the time, noble Lords, speaking with great passion, are equally assertive about the precision and scientific basis of the conservation measure which this represents. Therefore, they should not be surprised if, from the Dispatch Box, I am somewhat reluctant to take on board an amendment which introduces one concept called “seascapes”, when it is not entirely clear how we would define that in legislation and we certainly do not have an amendment which does that. We could enjoin on the Government the concept, “Let them find a definition”. Of course, in general terms, we accept the principle put forward with regard to the Council of Europe, but we too have difficulties with this.

I present the other problem. I listened very closely to what my noble friend Lord Judd said—it always pays to listen carefully to my noble friend. I heard what he said about the national parks. I think the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, reinforced the point, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Hooper. When has it been suggested that the national parks, created as my noble friend said by a most reforming and radical Government after the Second World War, have been under threat because they do not have a definition of “seascape” from their perspective? It does not exist in legislation and I am not sure that noble Lords have proven the case for it to exist in this legislation. A great deal of thought is needed before the Government can be persuaded on this point.

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