HC Deb 29 June 1971 vol 820 c178
1. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy towards the use of agricultural land for reservoirs, and in par ticular the use of land in Devon; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Anthony Stodart)

As with all other substantial development proposals, our objective is to avoid the loss of good quality agricultural land where acceptable alternatives exist. In applying this policy, agricultural considerations have to be weighed alongside all other relevant factors, including cost and amenity.

Mr. Mills

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that this is one of the most serious long-term problems affecting agriculture today? Does he realise that over 1,000 acres of good land are being lost each week? Will he make every effort to call a halt once and for all to the use of good agricultural land for reservoirs and use boggy and waste land rather than land which can produce food to feed the nation?

Mr. Stodart

I readily give my hon. Friend an absolute assurance that we shall always advance the need to preserve land, particularly land of average or above-average quality.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that, whether or not we go into the E.E.C., the population of Britain goes up each year while the amount of land available to provide food for it goes down by 50,000 acres a year? Does he appreciate that this is highly material to the choice of sites for reservoirs?

Mr. Stodart

Yes, Sir.

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