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Amendment 124X is what the noble Baroness described as the ramblers amendment. I understand where the ramblers come from. They are, of course, intrepid explorers. No doubt, to them an impractical route would just be a daunting challenge, but none of us would wish to have a coastal access report modified in a way that makes a route impractical. Surely practicality must be a key concern for all parties. I have checked this and I understand that there are many precedents for using the term practical in legislation. According to a search that we undertook last week, there are well over 3,500.
Amendment 124Y would allow the Secretary of State to make regulations covering the advertising of objections, and actions taken on objections, made by persons with a relevant interest in the land. This amendment would enable objections to be advertised before the appointed person has had an opportunity to consider whether any objection is admissible. Of course, once the Secretary of State has taken that initial decision, any objection that is admissible would be advertised. The amendment appears to visit advertising at too early a stage.
Amendment 124Z would mean that Natural England must send the Secretary of State a copy of the representations made by other persons on a coastal access report, other than those set out in paragraph 2(2)(a) to (f), instead of only a summary of those representations. In speaking to Amendment 124V I have already named several bodies that we expect to include in the regulations, so that their representations would go in full to the Secretary of State. They include such organisations as the Country Land & Business Association, the NFU, the Ramblers Association and the Open Spaces Society. We do not think that the amendment is required.
Amendment 124AC would delete paragraph 11(8). It is important to provide that, where the appointed person considers that Natural Englands proposals may fail to strike a fair balance and there is no modification that would satisfy the coastal access requirements, the appointed person may recommend that a certain modification would or may mitigate the effects of the failure to strike a fair balance. We have already discussed that. This power is a very sensible provision where the Secretary of State considers that a gap in the route is undesirable but, in that context, attempts to strike as fair a balance as possible. Of course, here the advice of the Planning Inspectorate or the appointed person would be very helpful.
Amendment 124AD deletes paragraph 13(3), which provides for subsections (2) to (5) of Section 250 of the Local Government Act 1972 to apply to any local inquiries or other hearings held by the appointed person. The amendment would mean that there would be no specific rules governing the conduct of inquiries and such procedural matters as summoning witnesses and paying their expenses. It would also mean that the appointed person would be unable to make any orders about the cost of the inquiry. Consequently, the Secretary of State would always bear the cost of the hearing or inquiry. The noble Baroness asked why we did not use Section 250. The provisions that we have put in place mirror
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On Amendment 124AE, we think it appropriate that the Secretary of State can make regulations covering the procedure for the conduct of local inquiries and hearings. The removal of this ability could make the inquiry process unworkable. The procedures for dealing with appeals against any restrictions and exclusions of access under the CROW Act system were set out in regulations, and we should follow that precedent here.
Amendments 124AF and 124AG would make changes to the way in which the Secretary of State might publish his determination on the coastal access report under Section 52 of the 1949 Act. The current provisions provide some flexibility for the Secretary of State and are appropriate in the circumstances, so we are not happy to consider the changes proposed in the amendments.
Finally, Amendment 124AH would require the Secretary of State to notify those who have made representations to Natural England under paragraph 7(1) after he has made a determination on Natural Englands coastal access report. Those persons are already covered by the notification requirements in the paragraph, as the Secretary of State must inform all those with a relevant interest in affected land. Such persons would be the ones to make the objections, so we have covered the point raised by the noble Baroness. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, would think that he had had a fair response. I understand where he is coming from, but overall I think that we have got the balance about right, so I hope noble Lords will give the government amendments a fair wind.
Earl Cathcart: My Lords, my amendment seeks to ensure that the coastal route and margin is properly updated to take account of changes in land use. I know that we have already had an interesting discussion about how the coastal route will affect, and be affected by, any planning decisions, and I was glad to hear the Ministers reassurances that the coastal route and its associated margin will not sterilise the land.
My amendment is targeted not at the changes in land use that require planning permission but at decisions about land use that will not require planning permission. In particular, many of the decisions that a farmer might make about a field do not require planning permission but might significantly affect the route and
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The land covered by the route and margin will, without doubt, change over time. As it stands, Natural England has the necessary powers to reassess a report, but there appears to be no mechanism for ensuring such a review as and when it is needed. My amendment therefore seeks to allow,
This would be a useful provision in that it would not only help Natural England but make the coastal route more user-friendly if a new route was agreed either on a permanent or a temporary basis. I beg to move.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the way in which he moved Amendment 124LA, which seeks a new provision where there is a change in land use; namely, that the owner or occupier may notify Natural England of the change and seek a review of the route. Natural England would be required to give a reason to the owner or occupier where a review is not considered to be necessary.
The noble Earl acknowledged that the legislation regarding the development of coastal access will not be a barrier to development, a point which was discussed on earlier amendments. The CROW right of access is a right which is flexible to allow for changes in land use, about which the noble Earl expressed anxiety. The line of the route and spreading room is not fixed permanently. The Bill enables Natural England to review these and to propose changes to the Secretary of State, subject to the full consultation and representation process, at a later date. In that way, the legislation can take account of changes in use and future developments. We touched on these points in our earlier debates. Should the route be blocked as a result of development, which results in the land becoming excepted from the right of access or which may in the future result in the land becoming excepted land, Natural England will be able to undertake a review of the route and draw up a report proposing a variation on the route. That flexibility is built into the legislation. Therefore, I do not think that the noble Earls anxieties about the way in which the legislation will work are well founded. The existing powers are adequate to ensure that future development is considered appropriately and that Natural Englands reports are reviewed where necessary.
Therefore, within that framework, I hope that the noble Lord will feel that most of his anxieties have been allayed by the necessary flexibility. Land use for
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However, it may still be sensible to revise the line of the route. Natural England will have full power to do that if there is a change in land use which results in these circumstances. In other circumstances, there may be land management reasons why public access will not be appropriate; for example, if land is needed for intensive grazing or lambing. In those circumstances, landowners can apply for exclusion or restriction of access to the land. Natural England may issue a direction if it is necessary for land management purposes. We recognise the point about land management. The restriction or exclusion in some of these circumstances might be for a very short period, in which case it will probably be most appropriate to agree to a temporary route under new Section 55I of the 1949 Act for use during this period. If the exclusion or restriction is long term, of course, a variation is more appropriate.
The Bill provides for that degree of flexibility, which we have discussed at some length today. I therefore hope that the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, will feel that the issues he has raised, particularly those on change of agricultural use, are already considered fully in the Bill and that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
(a) power to make different provision for different cases, and
(b) power to make incidental, consequential, supplemental or transitional provision or savings.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, as I indicated earlier, I am particularly unhappy with the Ministers response to this amendment. I still feel that the safeguard is necessary and will provide a valuable restraint on the use of this power. I therefore wish to test the opinion of the House.
(a) in subsection (1), omit and at the end of paragraph (a) and after paragraph (b) insert , and
(c) that, in relation to access land which is coastal margin, the public are informed that the right conferred by section 2(1) does not affect any other right of access that may exist in relation to that land., and
(b) after that subsection insert
(1A) The duty imposed by subsection (1) to issue and revise a code of conduct may be discharged, in relation to access land which is coastal margin, by (or in part by) issuing and revising a separate code relating to such access land only.
Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I have retabled this amendment because I felt that the debate on the group of amendments in Committee focused rather more on ports than on the separate concerns we had over salty marshes and mudflats. I hope that keeping the amendment on its own this time will ensure that the issues receive the attention they deserve. This is the type of shore with which I am personally most acquainted. Mudflats and salt marshes represent some of the most interesting and valuable habitats, as well as providing heroic scenery all of their own.
It seems therefore to be fairly well established that, where arrangements are not already in place for the enjoyment of these areas, they are likely to be too unsafe or inconvenient to be opened up to wider public access. The danger posed by these areas is significant. I know that the noble Lord, Lord GreavesI speak of him in his absencefeels that this route should also allow the public to take part in activities where there is an element of risk, but, unlike with rock climbing or similar popular sports, public awareness of the danger posed by intertidal zones is not so self-evident. Even experts are caught out by misjudgments of the tide.
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