I am very reluctant to incur your displeasure by being in any way repetitive but I feel that the Minister has not, as yet, replied satisfactorily to the argument I have made on the question of making conservation orders. I want to assure the Minister that I will not labour this point. It seems to me that the change made by him will not improve matters. I confess that I cannot elucidate from him his reasons for these changes. I am leaving aside the question of his adding the word "outstanding" to "natural beauty", as a qualification for the making of a special amenity area order. There is no point in pursuing that any further. The Minister has given his reasons. I do not regard them as very adequate reasons but there is no point in arguing further about it.
I ask the Minister to look at his proposals for conservation orders again. The situation is simple. Under the principal Act the planning authority could make a conservation order more or less for any time they thought desirable to do so, for any part of their planning authority area. When this change is made by the Minister such planning authority will only be able to make a conservation order for a particular species of flora or fauna if a special amenity area order has been made. As we know, special amenity area orders have not been made up to now. We have no guarantee that they will be made more frequently in the future. Therefore, to a large extent, this new provision of the Minister will bring about a situation where conservation orders will not be made by planning authorities.
I do not think it is valid for the Minister to say that the new Wildlife Bill, introduced by the Minister for Lands, will take care of the situation. It certainly represents a considerable advance and is welcome. If it is worthwhile leaving the power with planning authorities to make conservation orders then it is worthwhile making sure that the power to make conservation orders is effective. Otherwise, it would be better to abolish conservation orders altogether and leave it all to the wildlife legislation. I do not think that would be satisfactory, and I am sure the Minister would not think so either. No matter what the wildlife legislation provides it is important that planning authorities should have this power to make conservation orders. If they have the power then it should be effective power. If this restriction is introduced restricting conservation orders to areas where special amenity area orders have already been made then this is of no value whatsoever.
The point I am making is very valid. I suggest that the Minister consider it. If my amendment is adopted then the new subsection (1) of section 46 will read as follows:
If it appears to a planning authority, after consultation with the prescribed authorities, that it is expedient to make provision to preserve from extinction or otherwise to protect any flora or fauna in an area or part of an area they may make an order prohibiting,
and so on. In other words, we are just spelling it out quite clearly and simply that, if the planning authority thinks there is a need for one of these conservation orders, it will have the right to make that conservation order irrespective of whether or not there is a special amenity area order already in existence. You will also notice that I am deleting the words "in the interests of amenity" even though I admit they existed in the original subsection (1) of section 46. My only reason for deleting them at this stage is because I do not think they add anything to it. The Planning authority can decide that it is expedient for any reason not necessarily in the interests of amenity. I do not think there is much point in pursuing this argument to the point of exhaustion, but I cannot be satisfied that the Minister is improving the situation or that, in any reply that he has given me so far, he advanced any valid reasons for this change that he is making.