HC Deb 24 June 1930 vol 240 cc949-51

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he has received any representations from the urban district council of Exmouth on the question of the permission given to certain individuals to dredge sand and shingle from the mouth of the River Exe, and what is the nature of his reply to these representations;

(2) if he has been made aware of the opinion of the engineering authorities advising the Exmouth Urban District Council that the removal of sand and shingle from the mouth of the River Exe may endanger the sea defence works of the town by undermining the sea wall; and if he will give orders that these removals are to be stopped?


I have received representations from the Exmouth Urban District Council against the removals of material from seabed at the mouth of the River Exe, and am aware that it is considered by their advisers that these removals may endanger the sea defences of the town. On the other hand, I have had to consider strong representations on behalf of the bargemen of Topsham that their livelihood would be taken away by complete cessation of removals. A conference was recently held by my Department between all interested parties, and after the fullest consideration of all the circumstances, restricted removals of a maximum of 800 tons a month only from an area of seabed outside the bar of the River Exe, and half a mile from the shore, were agreed to provisionally. After a short period during which removals have actually been carried out inquiries will be made as to the effect, if any, which they may have had on the sea defences and navigable channels, and, if necessary, the removals will be stopped.


Ts the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Exmouth Council have a report of their engineer that the removal of this sand might do damage to the sea wall?


That is rather the case as far as I know, but I think the situation is met by this promise to watch the effect on the sea defences and navigable channels, and, if it is adverse to the de- fences of the town, it will certainly be stopped.

Lieut. - Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

Before the right hon. Gentleman takes any action such as is suggested, will he very carefully consider the effect that the removal of permission to take this sand and gravel from the Exe would have on the employment of men living in Topsham; and further, is he aware that these men are very grateful to him for the action he has already taken?


That is exactly what is in conflict. I have to weigh the defences of this town on the one side against the possible loss of employment to these men on the other.


Who is to do the watching? Is it to be the Board of Trade or the Exmouth Urban Council?


I could not give the right hon. Gentleman the precise information, but very full information will be received by the Board of Trade.


If there is any damage to the Exmouth sea wall, will the right hon. Gentleman do what he can to persuade my hon. and gallant Friend to guarantee the expense involved?


I will do my best to reconcile the rival sections of the Opposition.