Amendment 228 (to Amendment 227)

Part of Agriculture Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 23rd July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat 6:45 pm, 23rd July 2020

The noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone—at least I can pronounce “Scone” correctly. Her amendment provides a good handle to put this issue back in as far as planning is concerned.

My original amendment was all about the need to incorporate or relate the ELM schemes—particularly in tier 2 and tier 3—to all the other strategies of different bodies and organisations in an area, particularly the planning system. It seems to me that, if there is to be a new system whereby the Government put money into farm-level schemes under ELMS, larger schemes under tier 2 and even larger landscape schemes under tier 3, there should be a very clear relationship between these and the local planning system, and it should be a two-way relationship.

First, the scheme should take account of the local planning system and the local plan. Secondly, the local plan and local development control decisions on planning permissions should take account of the tier 2 and tier 3 schemes in particular. Otherwise, we will end up with public money, provided through the new ELM system, being put into schemes that then conflict with the policies of the local planning authority.

This is true for both plan making—which is one half of local planning—and actually determining particularly large-scale planning applications. If there is a tier 3 scheme to do something exciting with a valley and then somebody comes along and wants to build a large housing estate there, and the local plan itself—whether it is the district plan or the neighbourhood plan—does not take account of the tier 3 scheme being in existence, one can see that it is not going to be very helpful.

Therefore, the national planning policy statement ought to be modified to say that local planning—local plans and local planning decisions—should take account of ELM schemes, particularly the landscape-scale schemes and the larger-scale tier 2 schemes. The advice to local planning authorities about developing their local plans, and to parish councils about developing their neighbourhood plans, should say that they should take account of ELM schemes in their area. That just seems to be common sense to me.

Local planning is about spatial structures and elements, and it is increasingly about environmental and ecological things like wildlife corridors. If there is going to be a wildlife corridor in the local plan, then that needs to be linked up with the tier 2 or tier 3 scheme so that the farmers are then encouraged, by being provided with money, to do useful things in that wildlife corridor. The same applies to biological enhancement zones, large-scale SSSIs and even small-scale SSSIs—the abandonment, or neglect, of many SSSIs is a scandal. Landscape-scale policies in the local plan ought to be linked in with landscape-scale policies under ELMS.

I happen to live in a parish called Trawden Forest on the edge of Colne. The whole of Trawden Forest is a landscape conservation area, the purpose of which is to try to prevent people doing damage to such things as the special, historic local walls around fields that we have, and local structures such as that. If that is in existence as a council policy and part of the local plan, which it is, then it ought to be taken into account by whoever Defra appoints in that area to develop landscape or tier 2 schemes. Enhancing the structures in the conservation area scheme should be part of the farm-level schemes, the tier 2 schemes or whatever.

I had to do some campaigning, along with the Ribble Rivers Trust, which has done excellent work, because when the northern forest was announced two or three years ago, for some reason Lancashire was missed out. There is a huge bite in Lancashire that was not to be in it, despite the fact that adjoining parts of West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire were. We are in it now, so that is okay, but if there is to be a northern forest, with a particular focus on a lot of tree planting in the area, that ought to be taken into account in the ELMS. ELMS ought not to be regarded as something on its own; it ought to be incorporated with all the other planning that is taking place locally, so that the whole thing is integrated and the public money going into the public goods in ELMS contributes not just to the farms, but to everything else going on in the area.