HL Deb 21 May 1968 vol 292 cc632-8


14.—(1) The period covered by a review, that is to say the period between the two dates specified in section 33(1) of the Act of 1949, shall not exceed five years:

Provided that this sub-paragraph shall not affect the validity of any review or of any document prepared or thing done in consequence of a review.

(2) The interval between the end of the period covered by a review and the publication of the draft revision shall be—

  1. (a) in the case of the special review, not more than two years, and
  2. (b) in the case of any subsequent review, not more than six months.

(3) In the case of a limited special review—

  1. (a) sub-paragraphs (1) and (2) above shall not apply, and
  2. (b) the period covered by the next subsequent review shall begin with the relevant date for the original survey, or the date of review of the last review before the special review, whichever is the later.

(4) Section 33(3) of the Act of 1949 (which is superseded by sub-paragraph (1) above) shall not apply to a review begun after the coming into force of this Act."—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential on Amendment No. 58. I beg to move.

Amemdment moved—

Page 56, line 8, at beginning insert—

"9 & 10 Geo.6. c.49. The Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procdure) Act 1946. Section 3(2)(3) except as applied by section 15 of the Opencast Coal Act 1958 and except er respects an ordas made, or notice of which was published, before the coming into force of this Act.")— (Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.52 p.m.


moved, after the proposed repeal of Section 85(a) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, to insert, "In Section 87 subsections (4) and (7).". The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name on the Marshalled List. I put this Amendment down to bring to the notice of the Minister further points which stress the advisability, in my humble opinion and, what is more important, in the opinion of the Confederation of British Industry, of initiating an inquiry procedure before areas of outstanding natural beauty are designated. I would ask the Minister whether he would be so kind between now and Third Reading to have another look at this question and see whether he can put forward some formula on Third Reading which would meet the point of view of the extractive industries and the C.B.I.

During Committee stage I moved an Amendment to insert a new clause to that effect. In his reply the Minister said that in the designation of an area of outstanding natural beauty nobody's rights are changed. I agree with that, but I think that the noble Lord's answer completely overlooked the fact that once a designation order is made, it operates as a blight in reverse, so far as the extractive industries are concerned, the effect being that whenever any mineral applications are put forward they are subject to the prejudice of the designation order. Local planning authorities do not hesitate, as the evidence shows, to use the existence of the order as the principal ground of refusal.

On May 13 the Parliamentary Secretary said: It seems to me that if the full protection for the economic rights of this industry can be obtained at the moment when a planning application is made, it is needless duplication to write in anything about a public inquiry and public discussion in the designation of these areas."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, col. 151; 13/5/68.] Needless duplication already occurs when the problems raised by designation orders are allowed to confuse planning applications for legitimate extensions. Would the noble Lord not agree that the existence of the industries in these areas is a matter of fact, which results either from pre-Act circumstances or from a conscious policy decision since 1948? In both cases industries operate upon an economic basis, which means that they have to be sustained in production by making the raw materials available over the economic life of the plant.

During the Committee stage, as an example, I referred to the question of the continued supply of raw materials to a large cement works in Shoreham for which planning consent was granted in the early post-war period. This was done by a local planning authority consent of October 18, 1946, by a modified ministerial consent of June 10, 1948, and by a further consent dated July 7, 1950. The relevance of these decisions seems to me that they are evidence of a policy by the local planning authority and the Minister that the cement industry should be established in the South Downs area and thereafter sustained for a period of years. I understand that the Minister has accepted a working life of 60 years as normal.

Obviously the designation of an area of outstanding natural beauty conflicts on amenity grounds not only with the fact of the existence of the industry but also with the policy under which the industries were established in the first place. It is this latter conflict which should surely be resolved at the time when consideration is being given on a matter of policy as to whether a designation order should be made. Otherwise two contrary policies are set up side by side, one inevitably to the prejudice of the other. Is it not making nonsense of the first policy of setting up these industries if they are to be interrupted by a second policy which is at variance with it? In the case of the Shoreham works the local planning authority used the existence of the designation order as a reason for refusal in respect of the first planning application made by the company following the designation order. As I have mentioned, existing industries should be protected for their proper economic lives.

In the case of the gravel pit in the Cannock Chase area, to which I also referred in the Committee stage, it is proposed only to deepen the pit, so how could such work ever become "an increasingly damaging scar", as was stated by the Staffordshire County Council? Here, again, is evidence of a contrary policy whereby mineral working is permitted and then subsequently refused because of the making of a designation order. Would it not be more logical, fair and just, as established industries in these areas must from time to time obtain further consents to continue production, to ensure that any conflict should be resolved before the date of the making of the order, to avoid prejudice, with its attendant delays and difficulties? Otherwise, how can existing industries be assured of protection for their proper economic lives? In the final analysis, if all industry were to be brought to a halt in these areas, the national economy would be seriously affected.

Amendment moved— Page 56, line 23, column 3, at end insert ("In Section 87 subsections (4) and (7).").—(Lord Merrivale.)


My Lords, let me begin on a note of agreement. If all industries in these areas were to be brought to a halt, the national economy would indeed be seriously affected, but I do not think that there is much risk of that happening. The noble Lord gave the instance of a cement works at Shoreham. I am not familiar with the case, but it seems to me that his insistence that the cement works ought to be allowed to expand, without regard to the fact that this was an A.O.N.B., would not in itself be justifiable. There are conflicting factors here which must be taken into account on each decision. If the cement industry were able to make less dust and fumes, then no doubt this question would not arise.

There are two or three sides to this question. It is a very unpleasant industry for people to live near to, but it is a very necessary one. I feel rather strongly about this, because the people of West Thurrock, who have the greatest concentration of cement industry, certainly in Europe, and possibly in the world, keep sending bags of cement to their Member of Parliament, who keeps sending them to me because I am responsible for these matters in the Ministry. So sometimes I go with the Member of Parliament to West Thurrock, and the people of West Thurrock give me bags of the cement which they have swept up off the garden paths. Since then they have taken to sending these bags of cement to the Prime Minister, and these too come to me. I have quite a collection in my office.

I know very well that this industry cannot at the drop of a hat stop emitting dust, but I think in the case of an industry which is bound to emit dust the planning authority should pay attention to whether they wish to expand in an A.O.N.B., in a National Park, or whether they wish to expand elsewhere. It is, after all, in the nature of planning to reconcile different interests. I come back to what I said last time. An area of outstanding natural beauty must be determined according to whether or not it is of outstanding beauty. I do not think there is much difference about what sort of countryside is or is not of outstanding natural beauty. I have heard nobody say that the existing areas are less beautiful than other areas and ought not to have been turned into them.

Of course, industry is no better qualified as industry to have an opinion on this than anybody else. So I would advise the House not to change this; to let the designations be made by the Minister on the advice of the Countryside Commission, who are the right people to judge of this, and of the first motion of the planning authority, who are the right people to judge of this, and let the interests of industry be looked after when the designations are framed which is when, and only when, there is a concrete planning application to do something. If the interests of industry ought to prevail over the interests of amenity when there is a conflict, then let the normal planning law and the operation of local democracy and Parliamentary democracy make its decision. I would advise the House not to institute a system of public appeals and hearings on what is simply a question of whether a particular bit of country is pretty or not.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his answer, which I must say I do not find very satisfactory. He does not seem to have answered my point that there is a definite prejudice on the part of the local planning authority to grant any right of extension to existing works to draw raw materials when an area has been designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. It seems to me quite wrong that in the past the Government should have put forward a policy which enables these industries to be set up, the Minister agreeing that they should have a certain working life— in the case of the cement industry of 60 years—and then the local planning authority, taking advantage of the fact that a certain area in which the industry is established has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, refuse an application for an extension of the working of that particular industry. It seems to me quite illogical, unfair and unjust. I quoted to the Minister on Committee stage, and again to-day. the case of two industries where the local planning authority, purely relying on the fact that they are in designated areas, are not to permit these industries to extract more raw materials which they need to continue production. Perhaps the Minister would agree to look at these points between now and Third Reading, and with that hope I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.


My Lords, before the noble Lord withdraws the Amendment, I would say this to him. He has used very strong language. He has said that these matters are allowed to confuse planning applications. He has accused local authorities of prejudice in this matter. He has accused them of behaving in a manner which is illogical, unfair and unjust, and he has accused them of taking advantage of the fact that there is an A.O.N.B. on the ground. These are the elected representatives of the people, and I think the noble Lord should not use this language unless he is prepared to substantiate it with concrete cases. If he is prepared to do that, I will naturally look with a fresh eye at his suggested Amendment, but until then I really think that such language should be avoided.


My Lords, I am sorry for the strong language, but the fact is that I quoted two instances to the noble Lord. If he wants me to expand on them, I will with the greatest of pleasure do so in a letter. I feel that possibly he may then feel that some of my language was not completely exaggerated. With those few final words, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential upon the adoption by the House of the new clause which is now Clause 39 in the Bill. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 56, line 29, column 3 at end insert ("Section 92(2).").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

In the Title:


My Lords this Amendment is consequential on Amendments Nos. 38 and 39. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Line 10, at end insert ("and other public paths.").—(Lord Kennet.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

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