Clause 86 - Deferral of duty to serve abatement notice

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 27th January 2005.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I seek clarification on new subsection (2C). The general thrust of the clause is to enable local authorities to defer serving an abatement notice for seven days after it has concluded that a noise constitutes a statutory nuisance. The Government believe that that short deferral will help local authorities resolve disputed cases without imposing significant delays. Will the Minister elucidate how, under new subsection (2C), the authority must demonstrate that it is satisfied

''before the end of the relevant period that the steps taken will not be successful''

''that the nuisance continues to exist''?

What would the test be?

New subsection (2D) states:

''The relevant period is the period of seven days starting with the day on which the authority was first satisfied that the nuisance existed''.

That seems reasonable enough, but how would that apply to a temporary, one-off application, which might be time-barred and made at reasonably short notice?

Photo of Alun Michael Alun Michael Minister of State (Rural Affairs), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

This provision arises from a request by local authorities. The intention is to allow them to take alternative steps to resolve noise nuisance problems in cases where they think it appropriate to do so. At present, if a local authority concludes that a statutory nuisance exists, it has no option but to serve an abatement notice; it cannot do other things, such as holding discussions or exploring alternatives, that might lead to a resolution without the serving of a notice.

In some circumstances, serving an abatement notice can make matters worse and make arguments more difficult to resolve. In such cases, local authorities will be able to defer issuing an abatement notice for seven days to try to resolve the problem by further discussion. There is no requirement on the authority to   pursue this alternative route; delaying for the seven days is not an obligation or a right in respect of those on whom a notice may be served; it simply gives the authority more flexibility.

An abatement notice must still be served if the nuisance is not abated within or after the seven-day period. I hope that that provides the clarification that the hon. Lady seeks.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 86 ordered to stand part of the Bill.