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Modification of Restriction on Power to Make Tree Preservation Orders

Part of Trees Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Niall MacDermot Mr Niall MacDermot , Derby North 12:00 am, 10th April 1970

I wonder whether I might return the compliment by asking whoever is to speak on behalf of the Bill to explain a point in relation to Clause 1. As I understood from the explanation of the Bill which was given on the Motion for leave to introduce the Bill, the purpose of the Bill is to fill a gap.

The gap is that where there is in force a forestry dedication covenant and the covenantor dies, the covenant automatically lapses. There may then be a gap in time before a tree preservation order is made. In the meantime, the successor in title to the covenantor can cut down the trees and destroy them before a tree preservation order has been made. I understand that the purpose is to ensure protection of the trees in such cases by providing that for such land the tree preservation order can be made with the consent of the commissioners.

My concern and fear is that what we are dealing with ex hypothesi is the successor in title to a covenantor who is willing to preserve the trees by covenant who does not want to be bound by that covenant—in other words, who wants to cut down the trees. Obviously, a certain period will elapse before the intention of the successor in title to the original covenantor is ascertained. Time will be required to prepare the tree preservation order and to get the consent of the commissioners to the making of the order. During that time, the trees may be cut down. It seems to me that some kind of transitional provision may be required to continue in force, if only for a short time, the effect of the original forestry dedication covenant after the death of the original covenantor.

I appreciate that I have not put down an Amendment, but presumably this is a matter which could be dealt with in another place. I raise the matter by way of question to ask whether I am right in thinking that there is such a gap and that it could present a practical problem. I appreciate that I have raised this matter without notice, and I see none of the sponsors of the Bill present in the House. It may be that the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson), on the Opposition Front Bench, is not in a position to answer my question. If that is so, I am content for him to say so, in the hope that the sponsors of the Bill pan read the words which I am now speaking and consider whether the problem is a real one.