§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to hold a public inquiry into the proposed designation of the North Pennine area of outstanding natural beauty; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
[pursuant to his reply, 4 April 1985, c. 765]: Yes. The order made by the Countryside Commission designating a large part of the North Pennines as an area of outstanding natural beauty has attracted widespread interest and public opinion about its merits is divided. Some local authorities within the area have objected to the proposals and, having considered the arguments carefully, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has concluded that a public inquiry is the best way to proceed in this particular case.
The terms of reference for the inquiry will be as follows:
- (i) Section 87(1) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 provides that the Countryside Commission may designate, by order, an area not being a National Park as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty if it appears to them that the area is of such outstanding natural beauty that it is desirable that the provisions relating to such areas should apply thereto;
- (ii) No such order will come into operation unless and until it is submitted to, and confirmed by, the Secretary of State;
- (iii) The Secretary of State, if he confirms an order, may confirm it as submitted to him or with modifications;
- (iv) Before refusing to confirm an order as submitted to him or before determining to confirm it with modifications, the Secretary of State must consult with the Countryside Commission and with every local authority whose area includes any land to which the order relates.
The commission has submitted an order in respect of an area included in the North Pennines as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
In order to assist the Secretary of State in reaching the decision as to whether or not to confirm the order as submitted to him or whether to confirm it with modifications, the Secretary of State has decided to hold 179W a public local inquiry at which a person appointed by him will hear representations and objections into the order as submitted by the commission.
A further announcement concerning the timing and location of the inquiry, which will be the first to be held into a proposed area of outstanding natural beauty, will be made as soon as possible.