HC Deb 21 June 1951 vol 489 cc707-8
55 and 56. Mr. John Rodgers

asked the Minister of Agriculture (1) why the Blaze Wood site has now been abandoned: (2) what was the acreage of woodland purchased in Blaze Wood, Mereworth, Kent, for the National Fruit Tree Trial Ground; and what was the cost of purchasing and clearing the site.

Mr. T. Williams

Clearing operations revealed that the site was so severely infested with a particular fungus as to make it unsuitable for the critical experimental work involved in fruit variety testing. The infestation is the heaviest that has been recorded: and the scientific advice we have is that the presence of the fungus in such quantity could not have been detected until the clearance of the woodland had begun and the stumps of trees —under which the fungus is found—had been uprooted. Four hundred and four acres were purchased at a cost of £8,812 and a contract for clearing and cultivating 180 acres was placed at a price of £11,340.

Mr. Rodgers

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that this is, in miniature, a groundnut scandal? The presence of Armillaria Mellea was known in the district and could have been detected had there been a survey beforehand.

Mr. Williams

All I can suggest is that the hon. Member is simply reflecting upon our scientific advisers.

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