HC Deb 07 July 1971 vol 820 cc1330-1
26. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with facilities for public access to reservoirs; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Because I was not satisfied when I assumed responsibility for sport that everything possible was being done to make full use of the recreational potential of reservoirs, I asked all statutory water undertakings in England to review their policies in consultation with regional sports councils. I am glad to be able to say that no fewer than 34 water undertakings have recently made, or plan to make, increased provision for recreational use of their reservoirs, and I shall be considering what follow-up action might be called for on the basis of the regional sports councils' detailed reports.

Mr. Clark

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply. Will he further press the water boards to give access to the public to the water's edge of these reservoirs? Does he realise that there is hardly any reservoir that allows the public this facility?

Mr. Griffiths

Wherever it is possible for the public to be given safe access to reservoirs, then requests which have been made by my Department, followed up by the regional sports councils, are in that direction. The hon. Member will understand that there are certain reservoirs where matters of safety make it difficult to insist on such a course.

Sir D. Renton

Apart from the matter of safety can my hon. Friend, who has knowledge of Grafton Water in my constituency, say why these magnificent facilities cannot be provided in most other reservoirs?

Mr. Griffiths

My right hon. and learned Friend will know that Grafton Water had the advantage when originally planned of recreational considerations being taken into account at the beginning. This is not the case with some of the older reservoirs, where the problem is rather more difficult.

Mr. Tinn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Derwent Reservoir in the County of Durham, which was opposed by some conservationists on scenic grounds, is now a beauty spot with planned access and also with controlled access for boating? Will he urge on the responsible authorities for the older reservoirs the need to develop such facilities?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, indeed. I had the pleasure of visiting Derwent Reservoir, and I agree absolutely with what the hon. Gentleman has said. The efforts of the Government are directed to persuading and assisting other water undertakings to do the same sort of job where it is practicable to do so.