HL Deb 07 March 1987 vol 487 cc303-19

7.17 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

The promoters of this Private Bill have circulated to a large number of your Lordships a statement for the occasion of this Second Reading. It describes comprehensively the project and its recent history. I shall therefore concentrate on the principle features of the scheme and what appear to be the main points of concern raised by the petitioners. I ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading this evening in the usual way so that the promoters and the petitioners can be heard by a Select Committee in accordance with the procedure for private legislation.

Briefly, the scheme proposed is this. A yacht haven is to be created to accompany residential housing. The residential housing is not a subject of the Bill. It is already approved and the building work on it has begun. The haven would make use of the Victorian pier which had fallen into disrepair and was closed for safety reasons. The promoters have already carried out repairs and that has enabled the pier to be reopened for the berthing of vessels and for pedestrians.

To form with the pier the new sheltered haven, a breakwater would be built. At present there are no sheltered moorings between Poole and Weymouth. That particular need would be met as the promoters have agreed to permit temporary mooring for boats requiring emergency shelter when unexpected and sudden storms occur.

The new haven would provide moorings for about 250 yachts, together with space for visiting craft and the Swanage lifeboat. That would increase the opportunities for the recreation of sailing. Space has also been offered for full-time fishing boats which are normally based at Swanage. Besides providing those and other facilities, the scheme would give support to the local tourist industry.

As regards employment, between 50 and 100 additional jobs are foreseen. They will continue after the construction phase, during which about 300 people would be employed. I understand that the tourist organisations operating in the area are in favour of the project. The recent unemployment which has occurred in Swanage certainly shows that the extra jobs are needed.

Swanage is an attractive town and a popular seaside resort for families, some of whom have visited it over the years. It is not surprising that there should be some apprehensions about whether its character might suffer from such a scheme. There are two petitions before your Lordships' House. One is from Purbeck District Council. It, supports in principle the construction of the works proposed but expresses certain reservations. Among these are possible effects on the coastline. To meet this concern, special hydrographic studies by experts have been commissioned and the resulting report was made available to the council at Easter. I understand that the other local authorities concerned also support the scheme in the Bill.

The second petition from a number of local interests raises other points in addition, including possible adverse effects on sea fishermen and sea anglers. Clearly these matters must be fully examined.

In response to comments that the limits of jurisdiction proposed extend more widely than is strictly necessary, the promoters have already agreed to reduce them and they propose to submit amendments to that effect to the Select Committee. These revised limits of jurisdiction amount to only about 5 per cent. of Swanage Bay; that is to say, the whole bay from Peverill Point to Ballard Point. I mention this to make it clear that there is no question of a large part of the bay being included.

It is normal for works of this kind to be undertaken by private firms; and it is not unusual for the completed facilities then to be managed by private concerns. Several ports, docks and harbours in this country are operated by private companies. Examples which are appropriate to have in mind when considering this Bill are the Brighton Marina Act, the Eastbourne Harbour Act and the very recent Port of Fosdyke Act of 1987.

The noble Lord, Lord Raglan, has tabled an Instruction to the committee. I note that the matters set out are ones which would automatically be considered by the committee—they should certainly be—such as the character of Swanage, the possible effects on the environment and the other matters. For myself, I am entirely content with the wording in that Instruction.

In my view the committee should examine these matters anyway without any need of this guidance. My only worry is a procedural one. Turning for advice to Erskine May, pages 1047–8, I see on the latter page: instructions which would direct the committee to have regard to matters which would already, either under the standing orders or because the clause in question is opposed, be carefully considered by it, have been refused by the House. It is clear from both pages of Erskine May that the House has been careful in the past not to direct the committee or appear to prejudice its conclusions on the merits of the cases it is to hear.

An example was on the Kent River Board Bill in 1962, when arguments against an Instruction of this kind were powerfully deployed and it was withdrawn by its mover. The matters to which attention was then to be drawn would have had to be considered by the committee in any event. The noble Lord, Lord Raglan, will no doubt decide what to do after he has spoken on the content of his Instruction and heard the debate. What is clear from Erskine May is that this is the kind of instruction which, while not out of order, should in no way affect the Committee's views on the Bill whether it is passed or withdrawn.

I have full confidence that a Committee of the House will examine all the matters raised in the petitions and the proposals of the promoters thoroughly and fairly. I believe that the proposals in the Bill should go forward to that stage. I should not be moving this Motion if I did not consider them worthy of such consideration. Further, I learn that the promoters are in a position to propose modifications or to make special arrangements to accommodate several of the matters raised in the petitions; and the committee procedure provides the means of pursuing satisfactory settlements on these.

In the debate in your Lordships' House a year ago, which I initiated, on the British tourist industry, speakers were encouraging initiatives and investment knowing that there is here a great potential for increasing employment in our country. When initiatives are taken it is disheartening for their enterprising and energetic originators if they cannot even get off the ground because they are denied access to the appropriate system where the pros and cons can be examined and the public interest taken into account. That is a cogent reason for sending the Bill to the Committee stage.

I commend the view of Mr. Brian Johnston, the well-known broadcaster, who for nearly 30 years has had a house at Swanage. The town we are discussing this evening is down his way! Writing in the journal Heritage Outlook in January about this project, his view was: I think if it is well done it will be rather a good idea. The article supported further examination of the proposals. It also congratulated the promoters on the work already done to bring the Victorian pier to life again.

I was known for my knowledge of the countryside and coastline and their wildlife, and therefore as what is called a conservationist, before I became a parliamentarian. In my experience, imaginative plans to provide new facilities can in suitable circumstances be designed and adapted to preserve the environment. I believe that this is a case of that kind. I commend the Bill to the House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—(Lord Campbell of Croy.)

7.27 p. m.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, has, as one would expect of him, put the case for the Bill as well as it could be put. He is, I know, interested in the tourist industry and, as he said, he principally supports the Bill on that account. On that point, I am inclined to think that though its provisions may help one kind of holiday industry it will do so at the expense of another kind. I shall not bandy figures with him about employment prospects—they, of course, will come out in the Committee—but I am bound to say that I think his figures will be contended.

Like the noble Lord, I live a long way from Swanage. I became involved in this matter because a friend living in Swanage wrote to me for support in petitioning against the Bill. I have to say that I wrote back rather discouragingly to the effect that there were always objections to such schemes and that on the face of it this did not seem such a bad one to me. However, he persisted with me and so I went to Swanage to see for myself, and my visit quite changed my mind.

There are numerous and, I think, very proper objections to these proposals but of course this evening I shall concentrate on only a few which I think will be enough to demonstrate to your Lordships the validity of the terms of the Instruction which I shall be asking your Lordships to enforce. I may say, in view of the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, that I put down this Instruction with what I think is the best advice, so I hope your Lordships will accept that I did not take it off the top of my head. It was given to me under professional advice in your Lordships' House.

Under an Act of 1859 a quay was built for the transport of Purbeck stone. It was built on the waterfront of Swanage. The quay was later extended by a pier for the use of pleasure steamers and for other recreational activities. In both cases, there was provision made in the relevant Act for an area of jurisdiction, as it was called, to allow clear passage for navigating large boats. In purchasing the quay and the pier from their previous owners, the proposers of the Bill have succeeded in title to the area of jurisdiction. However, they intend to put those powers to a different use from that for which they were originally designed.

The area of jurisdiction, altered considerably in shape and greatly enlarged, is to be used virtually as an exclusion zone for the benefit of vessels paying rent to the development company. The exclusion zone would cover almost all that area in front of Swanage which is presently fused for anchorage by private vessels. In combination with an encircling breakwater and wavescreen, the zone will force out or enable to be forced out nearly all the 60 or more fishing boat, pleasure boat and yacht anchorages for which there are no safe, suitable or convenient substitutes elsewhere in the bay. In the process, it will very considerably reduce their shore facilities.

I have been told that eight of the 28 whole and part-time fishermen have been offered berths in the marina at a price, provided they do not get bigger boats. The others do not know where they will go. Therefore, the proposals would cause almost complete disruption and severe curtailment of established businesses and recreational interests. I should explain that this is not some rundown dockland whose fortunes are to be revived, as may be the case in other places round the coast. These are lively interests and going concerns which would be displaced. They mean much to the people affected, nearly all of whom are local inhabitants. A large portion of the beach and shingle where fishermen now draw up their boats—a picturesque area which is much favoured as a holiday attraction, particularly for children—is to be concreted over and turned into a park for two or three hundred cars. I should have said that as a spectacle for tourists, for most people's money, cars for fishing boats will not be an attractive exchange.

From the area of the car park, jutting out incongruously from the shore some 300 yards into the sea, almost 20 feet in height and blocking some of the best views of the bay, would be the breakwater. It is not known what effect the breakwater would have on the currents of the bay and therefore upon the disposition of the beach. The beach at Swanage is unusual in that much of its sand is scoured away during the winter and gets replaced in the spring. Therefore, the wellbeing of the beach, which is one of Swanage's splendid and popular natural advantages, depends upon not interfering with the currents that put it there. When this was pointed out to the developers, they put a clause in the Bill—Clause 24—under which the company would make good any damage caused by the effect of the breakwater on the currents. Yet the damage so caused might well be beyond the means of a small company such as this—or even of a large company—to repair.

At a later stage and since the deposition of the Bill, the developers have at last commissioned a hydrographic survey, which, as I understand it, has just been finished. However, its conclusions must be tentative as they have been calculated to a mathematical model only. At Eastbourne, where a large marina is planned, it has been thought necessary to construct a working hydrographical model. I do not think that one can possibly do with anything less than that here; the possibilities of damage and the liability to indemnity are too large.

A proper hydrographic survey is not the only thing which the developers have been prepared to go ahead without. I have here a coloured brochure advertising a number of residential houses to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, referred. They are being built overlooking the proposed yacht haven. In the brochure, they are offered for sale on the basis that each will have a berth at the yacht haven—and that before the Bill has even begun to be examined by Parliament. I think that to do such a thing is ill-considered; it is certainly misrepresentation. To my mind, it casts more serious doubt on the competence of the company. Under the Bill, it has sweeping powers to control and manage what goes on within the area of jurisdiction, including the marina. The area of jurisdiction now goes a mile or more out to sea.

We need to remember that Swanage lies not on an open coast but in a natural bay. Its mooring area, which is in the only sheltered position in the bay, serves many interests, as I said earlier. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, has said that it is only a tiny proportion of the bay. But only a tiny proportion of the bay is suitable for mooring. The many interests include fishermen, boat hirers, sea anglers, divers, naturalists, holidaymakers and a host of yachtsmen who can at present moor permanently or who may wish only to call at Swanage. All those interests stand to be injuriously affected under the Bill, and surely it is not right that those interests, which are effectively public interests, should be subjugated to those of a private development company.

If it is considered desirable or necessary to regulate the bay, I think that the proper course would be the establishment of a public harbour authority representative of all sections of the public who use the bay. That would ensure that its management is carried out in the public interest. As it is, the Bill will effectively be ousting all those legitimate local interests from what is really the only utilisable part of the bay; they will be left with no place and no say in how things are run.

My last point concerns the general environment of the bay and the impact which such a development would have on it. Yacht havens, or marinas as they are usually known, have proved very popular with boat owners and have enabled many people to own a boat who otherwise would have had nowhere to put it. Altogether marinas have been a great help in popularising sailing as a pastime. When well situated they can be quite agreeable to look at—more so than caravan sites, of which they are roughly the maritime equivalent. More sites for marinas should and will be found if the demand is there. Of course, in nearly every case a Bill will be needed, as Parliament has jurisdiction over tidal waters. Therefore, Parliament has a planning function which it can discharge in protecting the coastline—which is fortunate, as planning authorities can either be too removed or too near the immediate site to perceive it in its wider setting.

I take the view, which I am sure your Lordships share, that there are right and wrong places to put things. That sentiment applies to marinas. I believe that Swanage is very much the wrong place for a marina. Only a few miles round the corner to the north-east, at Poole, there are thousands of yachts with facilities for them; perhaps at Bournemouth, too. All across the Solent, at Lymington, Portsmouth and Southampton, there are many suitable places. However, south and west of Poole the coast acquires a different character. It is more peaceful and one might say it is less rackety. It is relatively undeveloped until one gets to Weymouth. I think it is worth trying to keep it like that as far as possible.

Between Swanage and Poole there is Knowl beach in Studland Bay, which was given to the National Trust in 1982. The cliffs belonging to Knowl can be seen straight across the bay from Swanage. Round Peveril Point, just out of Swanage, the heritage coast runs west. Swanage town itself is a conservation area and, most of it anyway, matches its fortunate setting just east of the Purbeck Hills. It would be a shame to spoil it with something so out of character as this marina and the inevitable further development of the same kind which would be bound to take place if the marina is established. Unfortunately, foreshores cannot be made conservation areas; but if they could, this would certainly be one. I hope I have said enough to convince your Lordships of my concern and that you will accept the terms of the Instruction on the Order Paper. I beg to move.

Moved, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they should have particular regard to the effect of the Bill on the environment and on the character of Swanage and its bay, and should consider whether it is in the public interest that, as proposed by the Bill, a far more extensive area of the bay than hitherto should be placed under the jurisdiction of a private company, and enclosed, for the purpose of commercial development.—(Lord Raglan.)

7.42 p.m.

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, it is not for me to comment on the merits of the Bill but I express the hope that your Lordships will give it a Second Reading. I expect your Lordships are already bored with hearing me say once again that giving a Second Reading to a Private Bill does not necessarily imply that you approve of its purposes; but it does allow the Bill to be committed to a Select Committee, which I suggest is the appropriate place to make a full investigation of the merits of the Bill, the petitions and the Instruction.

There are two petitions against the Bill, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, made clear. They are widely drawn and a number of objections are raised in them. These matters will be closely investigated by the Select Committee if your Lordships agree to the Second Reading this evening. I also suggest that it would be wise to accept the Instruction in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Raglan. Again, I have no comments on the merits of it but I believe that, precedurally, it is an appropriate Instruction.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, raised some matters that he had read in Erskine May saying, if I understood him, that instructions on matters which would in any case be considered by the committee should not be accepted by the House. Certainly that is generally true. However, the Select Committee is limited to considering matters raised in the petitions and I am not sure that in this case the matters raised in the Instruction are all raised in the petitions. However, that is a matter for the noble Lord, Lord Raglan.

My advice is that the House should accept the Second Reading and the Instruction moved by the noble Lord. The Bill will then go to a Select Committee for thorough investigation and that committee will make a special report to the House which can be considered when the Bill returns on Third Reading.

7.44 p.m.

Lord Stewart of Fulham

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has advised the House to accept the Second Reading of the Bill and to accept the Instruction. I am grateful to the noble Lord for both pieces of advice, which I hope and trust the House will follow. In view of that, and the detailed account given by my noble friend Lord Raglan of the problems involved in the creation of this marina, I need not say very much. All of us have a connection with Swanage in one sense. If one chooses to leave this building by way of St. Stephen's Hall one will see a large mural painting of a naval battle in Swanage Bay which took place some 1, 000 years ago. My connection with Swanage arises from having spent my summer holidays there year after year for a great many years. One is immediately aware of what an attractive place it is for family holidays because of the exceptional safeness of the bathing. There is a peculiarity of the tide which means it never goes out very far. Therefore the risk of any juvenile or imprudent bather being swept away by the tide is almost negligible.

We do not know for certain whether the tide will continue to behave in that manner after the creation of the breakwater and the other works set out in the Bill. It is therefore prudent for the House to give the Committee this Instruction to consider the character of Swanage and the effect that these works might have if carried out. It appears we may have a conflict between the interests of those people who would gladly use a yacht haven and the many other people whose ways of enjoying Swanage may all be put in peril. Some people may find their methods of enjoyment imperilled by what could happen to the tides.

The noble Lord, Lord Raglan, drew attention to the plight of fishermen and the boatmen. The promoters may be able to assist some of them but it is clear from the fact that they have offered to assist only some of them that they do not feel they can meet the needs of all who now use this part of Swanage Bay, either as fishermen or as boatmen. If, as is a possibility, the construction of the works interferes with the breeding of a number of species of fish and shellfish, that will constitute another threat to the livelihood of a specific group of people in Swanage.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said that provision will be made for the Swanage lifeboat which lies along that shore. It will have to move to a different place from where it is now. It is not clear whether the lifeboat will have security of tenure once moved. Its position and the rent it may be asked to pay will be entirely at the discretion of the company which is to carry out this development. That is an example of what the Select Committee should very carefully study.

It is true that the promoters have reduced the area they propose to bring under their jurisdiction. Although that area is small, set against the whole range of Swanage Bay, it comprises a large proportion of the south-west corner of the bay which is particularly protected and favoured by local boatmen, fishermen, anglers and others. Therefore there is a case for specifically underlining the important issues at stake and the amount of harm that may be done. We cannot say dogmatically that it will be done, but there is reason to fear it may be done. In view of that, it is right for the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, to move an Instruction of this kind and I earnestly hope that the House will support it.

7.50 p.m.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I support the Second Reading of this Bill so ably introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, who has covered most of the salient points. I should like to say a few words about the environmental aspect. Like the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, I took my family holidays when I was young in Swanage, staying at the Grosvenor Hotel which I believe has been pulled down to make way for this residential development. As I remember it, the Grosvenor Hotel was no great beauty. I humbly suggest however that although Swanage Bay is a conservation area, the fact that this development has been allowed to go ahead means that in my eyes it has already been partially spoilt.

I should like to comment briefly on what the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, said about the marina. Much of the debate has concentrated on the south-west corner of the bay, which everyone, except perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, has said is protected. But noble Lords have failed to say that Swanage Bay is not protected from easterly gales.

When such conditions exist boats have to be taken to safer moorings in Poole harbour. The placing of a marina on this site and the building of a substantial sea wall would, in effect, create a much safer environment, especially for the passing yachtsman. I speak as a yachtsman. I consider Swanage Bay an admirable site for a marina for yachtsmen proceeding westwards from the Solent. Many other marinas in the Solent and at Poole have been mentioned, but due to the great increase in the popularity of sailing those marinas are now overcrowded.

I do not know how many of your Lordships have recently gone into Poole in a yacht and tried to find somewhere to stand for a night. It is not always easy. Swanage would be much better suited from the yachtsman's point of view. Poole or Weymouth involve a detour off one's course if one is headed beyond Portland to the West Country. The building of this yacht haven could only be a good thing from the yachtsman's point of view.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, mentioned the employment benefits that would accrue to Swanage. I agree with him. Unemployment is high in that area, particularly in the winter. When a marina is built, subsidiary interests connected with maintenance of boats during the winter invariably develop around it. This will be some help for employment.

With regard to the eyesore of the sea wall, if my memory serves me correctly, the land around Swanage is fairly high. I do not think that many people's views would be adversely affected. The marina would not be in what I regard as the most attractive corner of the bay on the northern side.

Much has been said about the tide. Being a relatively enclosed bay, the tide tends to sweep past it. There is not a large, lateral tidal movement around the bay, which is of course what makes it so safe for bathers, as the noble Lord, Lord Stewart, mentioned. The marina is not to be placed where the beach is. The beach is further around the bay to the west and north-west. I do not think that the marina would affect the beach in any way.

The Royal Yachting Association supports the principle behind the building of the marina. But it, too, has expressed concern about the rather wide area of jurisdiction that the promoters originally wanted. I understand that they have agreed to reduce that area and that it is no longer the problem that it was thought to be.

The problem arose of what was to happen to the Swanage Sailing Club which has a small facility near the old pier. The promoters are to rehouse it in a building near the pier. It is to be given preferential facilities in the marina. It is also to have a new slipway built to the west of the proposed marina site. That slipway, or possibly another, would be for public use, to replace existing slipways which would be lost in the marina development area.

There is still an area to the west of the pier forming the western arm of the marina where moorings could be put down. I believe that the promoters have said that they will not have jurisdiction over that area, so yachts would still be able to anchor for the night outside the marina.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, said that the promoters have already restored the pier which is now usable, having been derelict for a number of years. When we talk about the great use made of the pier by pleasure boats, it has to be put in context. Swanage pier was in its heyday about 70 or 80 years ago when a large number of paddle steamers plied up and down the coast. Today, a few smaller craft come round from Poole and Bournemouth.

There is only one seagoing paddle steamer left in the world. It is called the "Waverley", and I am happy to say that it remains in this country. The promoters are delighted that she will use the pier later this year. We do not have pleasure craft traffic to anything like its former extent.

The lifeboat was mentioned. I do not know any details. However, if the lifeboat has to be launched from land at present, it will probably be very much quicker to run down the pier and jump into a boat that is already afloat. I am sure that the promoters will look favourably upon the siting of a lifeboat facility at a berth in the marina.

Finally, the promoters have so far said that they will meet most of the objections that have been raised. At the moment, those are only undertakings. It is for the Select Committee to sort out what is to happen about this matter.

I welcome the proposal to build a marina in Swanage. It has been given fairly wide support locally, despite what we have heard this evening. It will be supported by the yachting fraternity. I hope that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading.

7.58 p.m.

Lord Wynford

My Lords, I wholeheartedly support the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, as the introducer of the proposed Instruction to the Committee to which this Bill will presumably be committed. The noble Lord gave us a full, detailed and forceful line of argument. I know that he has visited the bay and has therefore seen it at first sight. That was quite a large undertaking because he lives a long way away. That shows me—I live nearer—that he has first-hand knowledge of the problems.

I am not a resident of Swanage. I live on the Dorset coast, some 30 miles further west behind Chesil Beach. From my boyhood, when I camped there at the age of 10 as a cub or scout—I cannot remember which—except for the war years, I have continued to know Swanage and its bay. It is a most beautiful and unique place. That was 60 years ago. I go back to Swanage more often now than I used to because I have a crowd of grandchildren who go to school there. The curious thing is that awfully little has changed. Swanage has survived in the most unusual way. It is a most extraordinary place that has survived the march of time to a remarkable degree.

Swanage is a haven already. It may have to be a yacht haven—I do not know; I shall go on to that—but it is a haven of quietness for family leisure for all age groups from little children to teenagers. There is something for everyone along the seashore of Swanage Bay. It is unpretentious and it has enormous character.

Noble Lords may well feel that yachts on the sea are as natural and unobjectionable as sand on the beach—and I certainly agree—but there is an enormous price to pay. We have to think very hard about this. That is why I think it right that this Bill should go to a Select Committee. A yacht haven—or marina, as some call it—involves close-quarter berthing at the highest possible degree of intensity. That is simply because the capital costs are so huge. If one goes to Swanage Bay and looks at what has to be done, the capital cost is so large that the haven must be occupied at a very high intensity. Closely packed in that way, there are unacceptable risks of damage with many hundreds of boats touching. They are not boats on moorings; they are closely packed together.

These boats must therefore have very calm water. There is no question of the ordinary sea movement. There must be an enormous breakwater—a sea wall. This is shown in the developer's plans, but at the present moment the developer is aiming to berth some 250 boats within this quite small area in the southwest corner. That is written on his plan. That number will never pay as a marina. It will have to be much bigger. The developer knows that perfectly well. I think that it was the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, who said that there are already signs of local people being asked, "What will you sell for?" or warned, "If you are running a boat chandling business you had better get out because we shall run a better one". All this is going on. I know that this is so because I have been down there and talked to the people. This is the danger.

The professionals—an architect, a fisherman and the leader of the lifeboat team—pointed out to me that the aim of 250 boats was pretty optimistic on the scale of the site which the developer is now envisaging. Therefore I believe—and I think that noble Lords ought to watch this point—that this developer is already thinking of a much extended area behind this great sea wall. It will go half across the bay. Like a great curtain it will cut off the present sea view from Swanage at sea level. The noble Lord, Lord Greenway, spoke about the lovely view from the hills behind. Swanage Bay is landlocked by these high hills of lovely countryside. However, at sea level—that is what the public are interested in—on the beach or on the road which forms a promenade behind the beach the people will be looking into this great wall, 17½ feet high above mean sea level. There is a six-feet rise and fall of tide in Swanage Bay on average.

Your Lordships are now beginning to see a rather different picture. The whole view has gone. Today the Isle of Wight—as it was the day that I was down there not a week ago—was visible across the sea with the boats going to and from Southampton Harbour; everything is going on that one can think of. But that will all be cut off. It will be cut off because the developer—in the opinion given me by the people who were showing me round—will have to develop to about 800 to 1, 000 boats to keep the marina profitable, and with some repayment on the capital. I do not believe therefore that this will be an economic proposition at its present size. I believe that it is not realistic to look at this development on that scale.

In the future, the enjoyment of leisure, exercise, sea bathing and all the fun of Swanage of the last 60 years, as I have known it, will go. Swanage will close in that respect. It will be a mass of masts, sails and boats, but it will change completely. That is what we have to face. The old place will disappear.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, mentioned the employment of labour. There will be employment, yes, but there will also be unemployment because all the people who run these boarding houses up the hills behind the town will go. We therefore get a completely different picture. In my opinion it is vandalism if it is allowed to proceed because of the powers that exist in this Bill. Unless those powers are restricted, this is what will happen.

Surely the mass berthing of yachts should be confined to places that are already developing in that direction—such as Poole Harbour—or to places that have been overdeveloped in the past by heavy industry, such as shipbuilding. Either of those can provide underused facilities for a yacht haven or marina. These are the places where, in my opinion, the millions of pounds ought to be spent and not at Swanage. It would enable ugliness and decay to be cleared away. The seafarers would be accommodated, and there would be no loss to the landlubber.

8.10 p.m.

Baroness Nicol

My Lords, although I speak from this Dispatch Box this is a Private Bill and I therefore speak as an individual, though I suspect that I should have support from many of my colleagues in the questions that I propose to ask.

We are very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, for the way in which he introduced the Bill and the full explanation that he gave. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, for the Instruction because it gives us an opportunity to introduce some matters which have not been and may not be covered by the petitioners. I am glad to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that we are not out of order in discussing the Instruction tonight and I hope that the Instruction will be accepted by your Lordships and will go forward if the Bill is given its Second Reading.

It can only be helpful for the Committee in its deliberations to be made aware that Members of this House have views and that they ask for due weight to be given to the environmental aspects and to the rights and freedoms of the local community. To the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, I say that I suspect that yachtsmen are like motorists, and that as the motorist can never have enough car parks so the yachtsmen can probably never have enough havens. Although I can see the attractions from the point of view of the yachtsman, I hope that that will not be given as an overwhelming reason for having the marina because there are other havens available though they may be a little overcrowded.

Lord Greenway

My Lords, I did not want to stress that the facility would be just for yachtsmen, but I was trying to stress the benefit to the town of Swanage as well.

Baroness Nicol

Yes, my Lords, I shall come to that in a moment. It would seem from the debate so far today and from the views expressed by the petitioners that a number of questions can legitimately be put to the Committee. I shall give them not necessarily in order of priority, but in the order in which they occured to me as I went through the papers. First, should further progress on the project await the results of a hydrographic survey? The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, tells us that a report has now been submitted. But we hear from the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, that this is probably a desk job and not one that is based on all the evidence which one would need to carry out a development of this importance.

It seems that a proper hydrographic survey is essential because of the possible effects on the beach, which have been mentioned, on the breeding grounds of the many kinds of fish on which the local fishermen depend for their livelihood, and, finally—this is something which has not yet been mentioned—on the efficiency of the very important sewage outfall. I understand that the district council is very worried that the tidal changes that could be brought about by the development could affect the sewage outfall. We have not heard, if that happens, whether the bill for it would go to the developers or to the district council.

Secondly, what effect will the development have on the lifeboat station? This has been mentioned by my noble friend Lord Stewart of Fulham. If the station is to be relocated who will bear the cost? That is not clear either from the debate so far or from the Bill. What guarantees will be given against future costs? I give as an example the relocation of the lifeboat station at Poole which was carried out as part of the harbour development there and in later years the lifeboat station found it had to pay considerably increased rates. This was not considered at the time.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness. I wish to ask her whether she knows that the lifeboat station at Poole has just been asked for a rent of 10, 000 a year—which is more than is paid for the rents for all the lifeboats right round the coast—or it will have to move out because it is apparently using that much worth of space in the marina at Poole?

Baroness Nicol

Yes, my Lords. I think that reinforces my point very well. That is somethng which must be cleared up by the Committee in its investigations. Thirdly, is it acceptable that a very much used Heritage Coast footpath should be diverted away from the waters' edge, which it is to be, and taken behind a new car park? That surely cannot be acceptable in any terms or in any place, especially in a conservation area.

The fourth question is in what will be a crowded haven as we have heard, what action can be taken to guarantee protecton against pollution by the use of anti-fouling paints on yachts and of human waste if these yachts are stored, as they will be, overnight?

The fifth question is if the livelihoods of fishermen and pleasure boat operators are to be endangered by restricted access to the facilities which they now enjoy and have enjoyed for generations will there be sufficient compensating new employment as a result of the development? The noble Lord, Lord Wynford, indicated even higher possible loss of employment in the area than I had suspected. This makes my question even more pointed. I hope the Committee will look into the effect on employment in the community as a whole, the gains and the losses, to see whether that too will justify the development.

I know that there will be jobs during the course of the development, but they are shortlived—I should think two years at the most. The new employment which will be created—there will be some directly in the haven itself—will be small because I understand that the marina is not to include repair facilities for yachts. I think there is even a question mark over whether there will be wintering facilities for yachts, though I am open to question on that.

My sixth question is what weight should be given to the diminished amenity for all those who now live in and visit this quiet harbour? We have heard a lot about it from the noble Lord, Lord Wynford. It is very difficult to put a price on amenity. It is very difficult to say how much it means to the people who live there and to the people who visit, but they certainly visit. Though the yacht haven is put forward as an asset in terms of increased tourism, I suspect that the loss from the spoiling of the harbour for the land-based visitors will more than outweigh the possible gain from seaborne tourism.

Finally, the proposed powers in the Bill are very wide. I feel that if the Bill is passed in its present form there seem to be enormous powers for the new development company to change almost everything that they have asked for in the Bill. I could find no restrictions worth talking about on any aspect of the Bill as it stands. This is very worrying and the Committee should pay a great deal of attention to whether or not the powers should be restricted.

These are the issues for the Committee. I am sure that in the way of sub-committees of this House the members will give every consideration to all aspects of the Bill. But our debate here tonight can only have been helpful because I feel that we may have added to the evidence which will be coming to the Committee.

8.20 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I should like to thank noble Lords and Baronesses for taking part in this short debate; and particularly the Chairman of Committees for his advice which, he will not be surprised to know, I have heard before as so many of us have concerning the practice over Second Readings and Select Committees in the procedure for private legislation. On the Instruction and the procedure there, I propose that we should follow his advice. I have already indicated that I accept entirely the wording of the Instruction. My only concern was about procedure because it seemed to me that the paints in it were covered in the Petitions. As the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, says there is doubt on that, I readily accept that we should follow his advice.

The matters which have been raised this evening should be looked into by the Select Committee. At this point in the debate I shall touch on the main points only where there is a possibility of misunderstanding. In his speech the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, covered a wide range of matters which made clear to your Lordships the anxieties that exist especially in the area. When he was speaking at the beginning about the area of jurisdiction it sounded as if he was referring to the original area rather than the revised and reduced one. I again draw attention to the fact that proposals have already been made to reduce the area from what is proposed by the Bill.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, as I understand it there was an original area of jurisdiction with the quay and the pier. Then when the Bill was first mooted there was an extremely large area of jurisdiction. Now the promoters have shrunk this area but it is still considerably larger than the original area of jurisdiction of 1859.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I simply wanted to be sure that the noble Lord was addressing his remarks to the recent revised area of jurisdiction.

There are clearly differences of view on the possible effects in the area but one must bear in mind the offers that have already been made by the promoters and other agreements which can be reached in the Select Committee. I am talking about arrangements for moorings, and so on. These matters can be settled when the Select Committee is considering the Bill. It is certainly not possible to reconcile these here on the Floor of the House so I shall not pursue them now.

The noble Lord, Lord Raglan, mentioned the breakwater and the possible effects on the currents and therefore the beach. I remind the House that I said that a hydrographic survey had been carried out and its findings were made available to the Purbeck District Council which was concerned about that. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, was critical of the residential housing which has now been started. It sounded as though he was critical of the fact that it had been started at all. I must make it clear that that is not a subject of the Bill—

Lord Raglan


Lord Campbell of Croy

I said this in my original statement and I must say it again because so far as I know nothing at all untoward has been done. The housing received the appropriate planning permission from the authorities concerned. The noble Lord also suggested that there should be some form of advisory group of local interests when the facilities have been completed and when the promoters are carrying out the management. They have also proposed in paragraph 11 of their circulated statement that an advisory committee of local interests should be set up. I mention that because it accords with the suggestion that the noble Lord made.

Lord Raglan

My Lords, I do not want to keep interrupting the noble Lord, but he has several points wrong. I was not criticising the development of the houses. I was criticising the fact that they were being offered on the basis of having a berth in the marina. As for the latter point, that is not what I said.

Lord Campbell of Croy

My Lords, I am informed that there is no question of the promoters having made any offer like that without making it absolutely clear that it is subject to Parliament approving it. That has been made absolutely clear.

The main points raised by the noble Lords, Lord Raglan and Lord Stewart of Fulham, are ones which should be fully examined by the Select Committee. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Greenway, for raising additional points which were not covered in my opening speech, in particular the reference to the last paddle steamer, the "Waverley". I know it from the Clyde which had been its home.

The noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, made some further points which she suggested should be considered by the Select Committee. I endorse entirely what she said, particularly one of her points about the possible effects of pollution. Your Lordships may not know that this is a matter about which I am particularly concerned. Only last week at an emergency meeting I was appointed to be chairman of the Advisory Committee on Pollution of the Sea in succession to the late John Silkin whose sudden and tragic death caused us a great deal of distress. I had been a chairman in the past and therefore I was asked to be an acting chairman and take over very quickly. This has been part of my life in the past and so I am certainly concerned about the environment as a whole. When I say that I was drafted, I admit that I did not get much choice because I was drafted by distinguished Members of both Houses and all parties.

I am concerned as we all are with the environment and proposals in the Bill affecting the environment must be examined carefully but I feel that solutions will be found if the Bill goes, as I think we all agree it should, to a Select Committee.

Lord Raglan

I beg to move, That it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they should have particular regard to the effect of the Bill on the environment and on the character of Swanage and its bay, and should consider whether it is in the public interest that, as proposed by the Bill, a far more extensive area of the bay than hitherto should be placed under the jurisdiction of a private company, and enclosed, for the purpose of commercial development.

On Question, Bill read a second time and referred to the Examiners; and it was ordered that it be an Instruction to the Committee to whom the Bill is committed that they should have particular regard to the effect of the Bill on the environment and on the character of Swanage and its bay, and should consider whether it is in the public interest that, as proposed by the Bill, a far more extensive area of the bay than hitherto should be placed under the jurisdiction of a private company, and enclosed, for the purpose of commercial development.