Energy Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 23rd March 2004.

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Photo of Lord Higgins Lord Higgins Conservative 6:30 pm, 23rd March 2004

My Lords, I think I am in order in coming in at this point. Unfortunately, we have the next amendment on the Order Paper which relates to the following clause, on which the same issues will arise. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, will be able to raise his point then if he wishes to do so. It is very inhibiting to have a Report stage rule, but I certainly believe it is right that we should seek to adhere to it.

I am now somewhat puzzled by what the Minister has said. I am not asking him to reply to it again, but perhaps he might like to do so on the next amendment. We have got a clause here, as well as the following clause, about extinguishing public rights of navigation. But I am now not at all clear what sort of area—I cannot find another word for it—the Government are proposing to extinguish the rights in. From what has just been said, it seems to involve just the turbines themselves. I would have thought it would normally include the safety zone. Or am I to understand that you can have a safety zone within which the public rights of navigation will not be extinguished? Will it apply to some sizes of vessels and not others? I am not in the least bit clear about that. The other thing is, over how large an area beyond the safety zone is the public right of navigation going to be extinguished? For example, will it be extinguished within the relative territorial limits of the sites set out in the Crown Estate's documentation?

Finally, during the day we have had a great deal of discussion about the Transport and Works Act. I am nowhere near as familiar with that Act—indeed, I am totally unfamiliar with it—as is my noble friend Lord Lawson. It would seem that the existence of that Act is a positive disadvantage to this legislation. It provides a loophole whereby developers can get around the restraints that would otherwise be put on them—albeit a more expensive option.

Would the Government care to consider whether the operation of the Transport and Works Act ought to be excluded from the operation of this legislation?