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Report (3rd Day)

Part of Infrastructure Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 10th November 2014.

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Photo of Lord Judd Lord Judd Labour 6:45 pm, 10th November 2014

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for introducing the amendment. I do not need to tell the House that I am a passionate defender of the areas of outstanding natural beauty and the national parks. We have to be vigilant all the time on that. There is no room for complacency because the pressures against what we believe in are always there and we have to beware of erosion. The point she has made about a wider application of those principles is very important.

As I listened to the previous debate, I felt my blood pressure rising because it is a travesty to suggest that environmentalists are against economic progress. Of course we are in favour of economic progress. We want to see it effective and driving as hard as it can. But we are equally determined, as custodians and trustees of all that we have inherited in terms of the environment, scenic beauty, biodiversity and the rest, to keep those issues as equally important. Therefore, it is a matter of rational, strategic decision-making about how you have clear areas for driving ahead, so that people are not worried about constraints of one kind or another but know that they have got green lights going all the way, and areas where we are saying, “Yes, but there are other considerations to be taken into account and if we want a Britain worth living in and if we want our children and grandchildren to inherit a country worth living in, these other issues are crucial”.

When I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in the previous debate, my feeling was that, yes, I do believe that the market has a key part to play in our economic affairs, of course it has. I happen to believe, rather traditionally—and I am not ashamed of that—in a mixed economy. But having said that, I believe in a managed market and I will take the opportunity to say why. The trouble is that the market operates from a short-term time perspective and these other issues of the environment, scenic beauty and the inheritance by our children of a country worth living in do not have the same immediacy in play in the market as other factors of a more essential economic character. Therefore, one must make sure that those points are on the table, being seen to be taken seriously and being given the muscle to be taken seriously. From that standpoint, I am very glad indeed that the noble Baroness has raised the point that what we want to apply to parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty should not be exclusively limited to them.