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I welcome the amendment. It may not have gone as far as we would have liked, but it accurately and genuinely reflects the commitment that the Government made on Report. In particular, it sets out fairly clearly the role that the Marine Management Organisation will have when applications for development consent are made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission. That is the minimum that we wanted in the Bill: to give the MMO that very clear role. That is there. When you are dealing with national quango-type organisations such as this, how much influence one has and how much another has depends to a large extent on the people running the organisations and the credibility and influence that they carve out for themselves. There is a lot to play for but, nevertheless, the amendment is

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welcome. I think that my noble friend Lady Hamwee has one or two other questions to ask, but, for the moment, we welcome the amendment and support it.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I have one question and two declarations of interest—as vice-president of the Town and Country Planning Association and joint president of London Councils. I apologise if, when I was distracted as the Minister was introducing his amendment, I missed the point, but will he remind the House whether the Marine Management Organisation will be a statutory consultee, as it were, through regulations under Section 7 of the Planning Act in connection with national policy statements? I think that he dealt with development rather than with the overarching national policy statements, which are of course separate from the marine policy statements under the Bill.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, first, I warmly welcome the support of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, for this government amendment. I welcome him back to his place. We missed him very much in the concluding stages on Report and it is good to see him looking so well.

I know that the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, and his noble friend have been concerned about the issue of the relationship between the MMO and the IPC and would prefer the MMO to be responsible for all consents in the offshore regime. We have disagreed on this matter. We believe that, for nationally significant infrastructure projects, it is right that the IPC should be responsible, but I hope that this amendment will provide some comfort to the noble Lords. Since it is likely that most offshore consents will still fall to the MMO, because they will lie below the threshold of 100 megawatts and less, the MMO will develop considerable expertise in this area. It is also worth pointing out that the MMO will then be responsible, even when the IPC has consented, for ensuring that conditions are met. The MMO can also, under certain circumstances, issue additional requirements. There should be no doubt that the MMO, in relation to the consent regime, will have a major role to play.

We have also debated the general role of the MMO, and the noble Earl, Lord Cathcart, expressed concerns that the MMO was not going to be the champion of the sea, which was required. However, I think that the MMO is going to play a very substantive role. We have also made the role of the MMO much clearer, thanks to the debates in Committee, and we welcome the changes made at the beginning of the Bill in relation to that. I am confident that the MMO will have a very significant role to play and I am confident that this amendment will help it. The answer is no to the specific question that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised. Other than that, I welcome the support given for the amendment.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Clause 67: Notice of applications

Amendment 2

Moved by Lord Davies of Oldham

2: Clause 67, page 44, line 10, at end insert—

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“(2A) If the activity in respect of which the application is being made is proposed to be carried on wholly or partly within the area of a local authority in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the appropriate licensing authority must give notice of the application, or require the applicant to give notice of the application, to that local authority (whether or not notice has been published under subsection (1)).”

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I shall move Amendment 2 and speak to the other amendments in this group, particularly Amendments 2 to 9. There was extensive discussion in Committee and on Report on the people and bodies likely to be interested in a marine licence application and the way in which they should be made aware of, or consulted on, these applications. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, voiced the feeling that licensing authorities should have a duty to make local authorities aware of the marine licence applications that they would be likely to have an interest in. My noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath gave assurances during those debates that relevant local authorities would always, as a matter of course, be made aware of such applications by a licensing authority. It is very much the standard practice now, as far as the Marine and Fisheries Agency activities are concerned.

However, we agreed to reflect on the discussions which we had in the preceding stages of the Bill and to look again at the provision before we reached this point. Amendments 2 to 9 are a reflection of our further consideration. They provide that, where the activity is carried on wholly or partly in the area of a local authority, the licensing authority must give, or require the applicant to give, notice of the application to that local authority. This new requirement is in addition to the general requirement to publish notice to any interested persons, and I hope that it will be seen as meeting the anxieties that were expressed when we debated this at earlier stages.

The amendments will have the effect that the requirement to give notice to the local authority applies even if notice has been published more widely under subsection (1). As with the existing requirement to publish, the licensing authority may either give notice to the local authority itself or require the applicant to do so. In practice, the licensing authority may decide to require the applicant to publish notice under subsection (1) but choose to give notice to the local authority itself. Alternatively, there might be circumstances in which the licensing authority would want notice to be given to the local authority in question even when notice of the application was not to publish more widely. One example of this might arise in licensing a burial to be conducted at sea. We believe that the amendments as drafted properly account for the democratic responsibility which elected local authorities have for their areas while maintaining an efficient and flexible method of bringing applications to the attention of all bodies likely to be interested in an application.

However, the amendment does not reveal the full story of the close relationship that we intend the Marine Management Organisation to build with local authorities in coastal areas and which will be of the greatest importance to the delivery of much of the content of this Bill. We have heard adequate testimony

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both in Committee and on Report that there is a wealth of experience, expertise and local knowledge in coastal local authorities which the MMO will necessarily draw upon. In particular, local authorities will have a fundamental part to play in the development of marine plans in coastal areas, particularly in recognition of their continuing responsibility for granting development consents in the area between mean high water spring and low water mark. Their role in preparing shoreline and estuary management plans as well as being representatives of the local community on the development of marine plans from the earliest possible stage to help interpret terrestrial plans will be of very great importance. They will assist integration at the coast and enable local interests to be fully reflected in marine plans. All this is key to the success of the implementation of marine planning as we envisage.

To this end, we are working with the Local Government Association’s special interest group on coastal issues to ensure that the processes we put in place enable this important level of involvement and participation for the MMO to work with local authorities. I hope that the House will feel that government Amendments 2 to 9 respond to the anxieties which have been expressed during the passage of the Bill.

Amendment 10 relates to factors which licensing authorities must have regard to when making activities exempt from the need for a marine licence using the exemptions order-making powers under Clause 73. We had constructive discussions on this issue on Report, and there was general agreement that the power to make activities generally or conditionally exempt from the marine licensing regime should not undermine the purposes of the licensing regime itself; that is, to protect the environment and human health, and to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea while taking into account any other factors and authority it thinks relevant.

In the light of the Government’s policy to this effect and in the wake of the clear agreement expressed across the House during our discussions on Report, we have tabled this amendment. It mirrors the wording used in Clause 68 and makes it a requirement in the Bill that all licensing authorities must have regard to these factors when deciding to make an order exempting activities from the need for a marine licence. I beg to move.

3.30 pm

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I declare an interest as a farmer, grower and landowner, a member of the NFU and of various conservation bodies. Before I respond to the Minister’s introduction of the amendments, I join him in welcoming back the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, who is in his place today. We missed him in our debates on the last two days of Report stage.

I thank the Minister for tabling this important group of amendments. They reflect our debates in Committee and on Report about the useful role that local authorities could play in support of the objectives of the Bill. I am grateful to him for listening to our concerns.

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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I feel I ought to welcome my noble friend Lord Greaves as well. I missed him, too.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, for sparing time last week to meet the LGA special interest group. As is so often the case, there was a large array of officials there, which was very helpful. We had plotted that I would use the amendment to ask the Government to give a wider statement on how they viewed the role of local authorities, but the noble Lord, Lord Davies, has rather pre-empted that. However, I invite him to say anything more that he feels needs to be said.

Last week we discussed Clause 16, which deals with the bodies to which the MMO can delegate functions. I was taken aback by the technical reason bowled straight at us at the meeting as to why the MMO, which has delegated functions from the Secretary of State, cannot itself delegate onwards. I understand the principle, but I had not realised that the MMO and the Secretary of State were in that relationship. If the Minister can explain that on the record more coherently than I can, it will help those who refer to Hansard. I have already had an e-mail from someone who was at the meeting saying, “Could someone confirm what actually happened at the meeting because I feel pretty baffled by it”.

Local authorities have expressed the feeling—and I agree with them—that they have an important role to play at the table, as they put it, with the MMO. The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, in particular, had some very useful ideas as to how the importance of the involvement of local authorities can be recorded, as no one seems able to find a way of doing so in the legislation other than in the licensing part. One idea was that the Explanatory Notes, when the Bill becomes an Act, should deal with the issue and perhaps give examples of local authority good practice.

I thank the Minister and his officials for their explanations and the time that they have given. I wait with interest to learn what more can be done to confirm that essential role.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, if I fail to welcome back the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, he might take it in the wrong manner. I welcome his return to the Bill. He has put a lot of work into it, and we welcome him back.

I shall make one comment and ask one question. I particularly welcome Amendment 10; it is good to have it written into the Bill. We discussed it at great length earlier and it is quite right that we should have it. My question relates to “any local authority”. It may well be that I have slightly misunderstood, but does “local authority” include at parish council level, or does it refer only to tiers above parish council level? Clearly, if parishes are not included, it would seem sensible that they were. I remind the House of my interests, which are on the Register.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, I am very grateful for everybody’s kind words. When I attended last night’s counting of the European ballot papers in Pendle, a representative from the Conservative Party came up to me and shook my hand, saying, “I’m very glad to meet

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you, Lord Greaves. I have been hearing good things about you”. I said, “Oh—where does that come from?”. “From Lord Taylor”, he said.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Greaves: Being praised by Conservatives, my Lords, is a bit like being approached by Greeks bearing gifts. Nevertheless, I am grateful and thank your Lordships very much, but I was following your proceedings closely from over 200 miles away. When I last spoke, I was so keen to get involved again that I forgot to declare my interests which are, as I have declared previously, mainly my membership of recreational and conservation organisations, particularly my involvement with the British Mountaineering Council and the Open Spaces Society.

On this amendment, all I want to do is thank the Government for tabling it. Again, it is in line with their commitments on Report. It effectively puts into the Bill—in their own words—what our amendments tabled on Report said on the position of local authorities and their rights as statutory consultees in relation to licensing matters. We are grateful that the Government have recognised the special position that democratically elected local authorities hold, as opposed to all the other organisations that will be consulted or may appear in secondary legislation. Again, I thank the Government.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for welcoming the amendments, although he presumes too much. I am, of course, pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, is restored in health, but it goes much too far to say that I welcome him back while deliberating on this Bill. It is all right for the noble Lord, Lord Taylor; the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has caused him marginal trouble. I assure him that that has not been the case as far as the Government are concerned, so I cannot fully associate myself with such remarks.

Lord Greaves: My Lords, while not wanting to cause any trouble at all, that is the greatest compliment I have had for a long time.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, we are in danger of forming an all-party alliance which, I guess, is only possible for a day or so after elections have been conducted and certainly not before. I do, of course, respect the contributions to the Bill by the noble Lord, Lord Greaves. On the role of local authorities, we were, as I indicated in my opening remarks, responding, as constructively as we are able, to points that the noble Lord and the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, had made in Committee and on Report.

On the particular points that were raised, on the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, the tiers above parish councils are defined in Amendment 9. The noble Baroness will appreciate that we are talking about local authorities, but I understand her point about parish councils, and no local authority will be able to meet its requirements regarding these developments

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without respecting the position of the coastal parishes within its framework that may be affected. Our points about the more formal issues of consultation are directed to local authorities, although the noble Baroness accepts that we are concerned that notice is given to all who might have an interest. In some cases, one can anticipate a particular parish council having possibly the most specific and even among the most important of interests. We would not expect anything other than them being involved in the exercise in those terms.

On the issues raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, Clause 16 allows further delegation of only the functions that are delegated to the MMO in the Bill. That does not include planning and licensing, which are functions that the devolved authorities and the Secretary of State have. The MMO cannot devolve the responsibilities of the Secretary of State or the devolved authorities; they cannot be devolved further. In all other areas, though, it is expected that the MMO will be able to delegate extensively. I hope that she will accept that on the basis on which it is intended.

She invited me to dwell further on the issue of the contribution and role of the local authorities. With the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, back in his place, does anyone think I am going to dare to dwell on those matters? We have had intensive discussion about these issues. I know that the noble Baroness could pester me from now until a long time in the future about the crucial position that the local authorities occupy with regard to this legislation. I am not denying that; but I am shying away at this late stage from reopening the debate on how we could more effectively describe the role of local authorities. This legislation sets out the framework within which to operate, and, after the discussions we have had in Committee and on Report, we now have a framework that safeguards the proper interests of the local authorities while ensuring that the principal operations of the MMO and others concerned with the implementation of the policy under the Bill are also safeguarded.

Amendment 2 agreed.

Amendments 3 to 9

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

3: Clause 67, page 44, line 11, after “The” insert “appropriate licensing”

4: Clause 67, page 44, line 11, after “unless” insert “(a)”

5: Clause 67, page 44, line 12, at end insert “(but see subsection (6)), and

(b) notice has been given under subsection (2A) to any local authority to which notice of the application is required to be given by virtue of that subsection (but see subsection (7)).”

6: Clause 67, page 44, line 13, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

“(4) If the appropriate licensing authority—

(a) publishes notice of an application, in pursuance of subsection (1)(a), or

(b) gives notice of an application to a local authority, in pursuance of subsection (2A),

the licensing authority may require the applicant to pay a fee towards the reasonable expenses of doing so.”

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7: Clause 67, page 44, line 20, leave out “This section” and insert “Subsection (1)”

8: Clause 67, page 44, line 25, at end insert—

“(7) Subsection (2A) does not apply in the case of any particular application and any particular local authority if—

(a) the appropriate licensing authority considers that notice of the application should not be given to the local authority, or

(b) the Secretary of State certifies that in the opinion of the Secretary of State it would be contrary to the interests of national security to give notice of the application to the local authority.”

9: Clause 67, page 44, line 25, at end insert—

“( ) In this section “local authority” means—

(a) in relation to England, a county council, a district council, a London borough council, the Common Council of the City of London or the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(b) in relation to Wales, a county council or a county borough council;

(c) in relation to Northern Ireland, a district council.”

Amendments 3 to 9 agreed.

Clause 73 : Exemptions specified by order

Amendment 10

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

10: Clause 73, page 48, line 24, at end insert—

“( ) In deciding whether to make an order under this section, the appropriate licensing authority must have regard to—

(a) the need to protect the environment,

(b) the need to protect human health,

(c) the need to prevent interference with legitimate uses of the sea,

and such other matters as the authority thinks relevant.”

Amendment 10 agreed.

Clause 122 : Creation of network of conservation sites

Amendment 11

Moved by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

11: Clause 122, page 80, line 9, leave out from beginning to “the” in line 10 and insert “When complying with the duty imposed by subsection (1),”

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I shall speak also to a series of government amendments grouped with this one. Before I do, though, I return to the debate on the first group. When I said to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that the MMO will not be a statutory consultee under Section 7 of the Planning Act, that is the position at the moment. I am glad to report, though, that regulations will be made under this clause in due course when they will then be consulted on. That probably gives the noble Baroness a better answer than the first effort.

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