PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

DRAFT TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (COMPENSATION FOR RESTRICTIONS ON MINERAL WORKING AND MINERAL WASTE DEPOSITING) REGULATIONS 1997

Tuesday 4 March 1997

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairman: Sir James Hill

Banks, Mr. Matthew (Southport)

Beresford, Sir Paul (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment)

Flynn, Mr. Paul (Newport, West)

Jones, Dr. Lynne (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Lait, Mrs. Jacqui (Hastings and Rye)

Lennox-Boyd, Sir Mark (Morecambe and Lunesdale) MacGregor, Mr. John (South Norfolk)

Peacock, Mrs. Elizabeth (Batley and Spen)

Pickles, Mr. Eric (Brentwood and Ongar)

Pike, Mr. Peter L. (Burnley)

Randall, Mr. Stuart (Kingston upon Hull, West) Rathbone, Mr. Tim (Lewes)

Rooney, Mr. Terry (Bradford, North)

Sheerman, Mr. Barry (Huddersfield)

Shepherd, Mr. Richard (Aldridge-Brownhills) Taylor, Mr. Matthew (Truro)

Temple-Morris, Mr. Peter (Leominster)

Vaz, Mr. Keith (Leicester, East)

Williams, Mr. Alan W. (Carmarthen)

Ms S. McGlashan, Committee Clerk

1 First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation Tuesday 4 March 1997

[SIR JAMES HILL in the Chair]

Draft Town and Country Planning (Compensation for Restrictions on Mineral Working and Mineral Waste Depositing) Regulations 1997

10.30 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir Paul Beresford): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Town and Country Planning (Compensation for Restrictions on Mineral Working and Mineral Waste Depositing) Regulations 1997. I hope that I do not have to detain the Committee long this morning. The regulations update, replace and simplify existing regulations dating from 1985. They and the associated draft guidance have been the subject of full consultation with the minerals industry, minerals planning authorities, environment and amenity bodies, and other professional groups. The Environment Act 1995 provided that the minerals provisions must be reviewed every 15 years to ensure that the conditions governing them remain up to date. Compensation is payable if new conditions, other than restoration and aftercare conditions, restrict working rights. However, as mineral planning guidance note 14 made clear, minerals planning authorities retain their powers to make modifications and discontinuance orders to act in urgent cases between reviews or in the event of a technical default in carrying out periodic reviews. The new regulations will ensure that when such orders are made and confirmed by the Secretary of State, the compensation entitlement will be the same as for the periodic reviews. They are necessary to make certain that action can be taken to update minerals permissions in the event of a material change in circumstances between reviews or if a periodic review fails to take place because of a technical default. It is right, therefore, that mineral 2 companies should have in these regulations the same compensation safeguards in respect of working rights as have been enacted in the Environment Act 1995. For prohibition and suspension orders, the regulations retain the existing arrangements but increase the amount by which compensation can be abated in line with the retail prices index since the figures were last uprated in 1990. I commend the new regulations to the Committee.

10.32 am

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East): May I welcome you to the Chair, Sir James? I do not intend to speak for long. I welcome the new regulations and guidance. Only time will tell the extent to which the minerals planning authorities will need recourse to the regulations or whether compensation costs will act as a deterrent to their use, as in the past. I also welcome the fact that the new compensations place beyond doubt and legal challenge the facility for compensation to be abated in certain circumstances. I want the Committee to be aware of a couple of points. The sum is increased for the abatement of compensation following prohibition and suspension orders. We consider that that should be increased further relative to the cost of works that might be necessary to make good abandoned mine sites. We are also concerned about the provisions in paragraph 5. The tenor of the regulation goes against the widely held principle that the polluter pays for the cost of compensation. It is regrettable that the new draft regulations retain the link between compensation provisions under section 115 and 117 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 following a prohibition order and the restriction on working rights as interpreted in paragraph 2 of the draft regulations. Prohibition will almost always form a restriction on working rights as defined and while the link with paragraph 2 is retained, this will retain a strong disincentive to the use of such powers. Subject to those concerns, which I know the Minister will note, we shall not oppose the regulations.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Town and Country Planning (Compensation for Restrictions on Mineral Working and Mineral Waste Depositing) Regulations 1997.

Committee rose at twenty-six minutes to Eleven o'clock.

THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Hill, Sir James (Chairman)

Banks, Mr. Matthew

Beresford, Sir Paul

Flynn, Mr.

Lait, Mrs.

MacGregor, Mr.

Pike, Mr.

Rooney, Mr.

Shepherd, Mr. Richard

Vaz, Mr.