HC Deb 28 November 1967 vol 755 cc230-2
17. Mr. Hawkins

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what representations he has had urging commencement of a feasibility study of The Wash Barrage Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

37. Mr. Derek Page

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what recommendation he has received from the Water Resources Board regarding a desk study of the Wash Barrage project.

48. Sir D. Renton

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government whether he will now make a further statement with regard to a feasibility study for a Wash barrage following his further consultations with the chairman of the Water Resources Board.

Mr. Greenwood

I will answer this Question and Questions No. 37 and 48 together and with permission circulate a list in the OFFICIAL REPORT Of those by whom representations have been made, other than Members of either House.

The Water Resources Board has suggested a desk study to assess the scope for water conservation in the Wash and to appraise the case for a full feasibility study. I am considering their suggestion.

Mr. Hawkins

Does not the Minister realise that every month which passes means that more land will be put under water and will be of no use for agriculture in future? Can he give an assurance that we shall hear about this matter before Christmas?

Mr. Greenwood

I very carefully said that I am considering the suggestion for a desk study. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that, attractive as the Wash Barrage proposition is, it is estimated that it will cost about £90 million more than more conventional methods, and we must consider very carefully all the alternative methods, including the underground conservation of water, even before embarking upon the feasibility study. As the hon. Gentleman will have noted, I am considering the suggestion of the Water Resources Board for a desk study.

Mr. Page

Does not my right hon. Friend appreciate that the whole scheme for a Wash Barrage involves consideration of enormous potential port development and the possibility of draining tremendous tracts of land for gas-based industry? The whole question is of such a scale that it can be considered only by the Department of Economic Affairs and not purely from the point of view of water conservation.

Mr. Greenwood

I hope that my hon. Friend will not think that we are considering this question in isolation. I am, naturally, consulting my Ministerial colleagues on it. But, because it is such a highly complex question, it is necessary to give adequate consideration to the various suggestions which have been made.

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