HC Deb 09 April 1968 vol 762 cc1118-20

In section 125(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1962, so far as it relates to tree preservation orders, and in section 26(2) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947 (both of which sections provide for compensation for refusal of consent under tree preservation orders) for the words 'damage or expenditure' there shall be substituted loss or damage '.—[Mr. Skeffington]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Arthur Skeffington)

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Government Amendment 43, in Clause 20, page 22, line 8, leave out "damage or expenditure" and insert "loss or damage", is consequential and may be discussed at the same time.

Mr. Skeffington

Yes, Mr. Deputy Speaker; I am much obliged.

The new Clause was put down as a result of suggestions made by the Valuation Office. Hon. Members will recall that Clause 20 provides a new and welcome form of compensation which has not hitherto been available when tree preservation orders were made. For the future, one envisages local authorities often making tree preservation orders not in respect of single trees but much more in respect of whole woodlands. This is a satisfactory way of allowing woods to remain in private ownership, with some return, while at the same time preserving features of amenity which may be very important. But it seemed unfair that under the existing procedure, if the authority made a tree preservation order with certain directions as to the species to be planted, which could be of less commercial value or of much slower growth, this could result in the owner's losing quite a considerable sum. The intention is to give compensation of the difference between the potential value of proceeds for an advance under Section 4 of the Forestry Act, 1967 and the potential value in view of the conditions imposed by the local authority. The difference will be made up by compensation.

5.30 p.m.

It has been suggested, although this is not absolutely certain, that the words we had used, which we had taken from Section 125 of the 1962 Act, referring to "damage or expenditure", might not be wide enough to cover the case where there was not the mere refusal to fell, but one where the tree preservation order was based on a direction as to the species or the conditions under which the timber was to be grown. A very simple example is that of an investment of about £100 which the owner had thought might give him a return of £20 in five or 10 years, but because of the direction given the £20 does not materialise or is limited to £5. If this would have qualified for an advance under Section 4 of the Forestry Act under the original scheme, the difference the damage the owner has suffered, as a result of the direction can be made up by the provisions of Clause 20. The Amendment is to make certain that our intention is carried out. The new formula is considered to be wider.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

The Amendment is acceptable to our side of the House and, I am sure that every hon. Member will agree that it is sensible. We are grateful to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary for the way he has explained it to us, and we support it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

We now come to New Clause No. 3 and the Amendments to it, the Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon): In line 2, at end insert: Provided that in the case of a footpath the prior consent of the owner or occupier of the land must be obtained. and the Amendments in the name of the hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. Carol Johnson): In line 3, leave out 'remain mounted on' and insert 'ride'.

In line 4, after foot' insert: 'in circumstances which would or might interfere with the rights of any person on foot or endanger his safety'. The Amendment in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham has been selected for Division if required.