HC Deb 24 November 1955 vol 546 cc1628-30
12. Mr. Braine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether full reinstatement of coastal defences to pre-1953 flood conditions has now been effected by the river boards concerned; and by what date all new works designed to reinforce these defences will be completed.

Mr. Amory

I am informed that works of restoration have been completed except at Chapel St. Leonards in Lincolnshire, where it has been found necessary to add to the work originally carried out. In addition, very substantial works of improvement to give increased protection to land of high agricultural value, valuable industrial premises and compact residential areas are practically complete. It will be for the river boards to consider any further works of improvement that may be desirable.

Mr. Braine

Would my right hon. Friend convey to the river boards the general appreciation there is of the way in which they have tackled their task? At the same time, can he give an assurance that the sea defences on the East Coast will be adequate to withstand the effects of tide and surge, if they occur early next year on the same scale as in 1953?

Mr. Amory

I should certainly like to pay a tribute to the energy with which the river boards have tackled the very onerous duties which fell on them as a result of the floods on the East Coast. In answer to the second part of the question, I would say that I am satisfied that, in general, the defences are stronger today than they were at the time of the floods. I hope that as time goes on further improvements still will be carried out.

Mr. Edward Evans

As one of the objects of the Coastal Flooding (Emergency Provisions) Act was to co-ordinate the effort of adjacent local authorities and coast protection authorities, can the right hon. Gentleman say how many combined authorities have been set up since the passing of the Act?

Mr. Amory

I cannot answer that question without notice but, since the Waverley Report, there have been a good many very useful consultations between the two kinds of authorities responsible.

Mr. Ridsdale

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the town of Jaywick is experiencing considerable difficulty in the upkeep of its privately-built sea wall? Will he see what help can be given by the river board to help the enterprising citizens of Jaywick who, since 1938, have subscribed £50,000 for their sea wall?

Mr. Amory

I am not aware of that fact; perhaps my hon. Friend would be good enough to write to me about it.

13. Mr. N. Nicolson

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will set up a research board to investigate basic problems of coast erosion and flooding, and to give advice to river boards and coast protection authorities on the type of sea defences most suited to their local conditions.

Mr. Amory

The Hydraulics Research Station and the Building Research Station of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research are already working on problems of this kind, and they are available to advise river boards and local authorities on sea defence problems. These establishments, together with engineers experienced in sea defence and coast protection problems, are represented on the Advisory Committee which has been set up on the recommendation of the Departmental Committee on Coastal Flooding to consider what further research on sea defence problems is necessary.

Mr. Nicolson

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the two institutions to which he refers are not very well known to local authorities, and that usually it is left to the initiative, and comparatively amateur knowledge, of county council engineers to erect these defences? In consequence, bad mistakes have very often been made, resulting in the loss of thousands of pounds to the local ratepayers. Could he not make more widely known to the local authorities by whom they will be applied the results of the present research?

Mr. Amory

I am surprised to know that local authorities with sea defence responsibilities are not aware of what these two bodies are doing. I was under the impression that they are being consulted quite regularly by local authorities, but if my hon. Friend has any case in mind I shall be glad if he will let me know.

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