HC Deb 08 February 1972 vol 830 cc1123-4
15. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he estimates will be the total amount of agricultural land in England and Wales which will be taken out of production in each of the next three years and flooded for reservoirs.

Mr. Anthony Stodart

On the basis of schemes authorised over the past five years, a little over 5,000 acres is likely to be taken within a corresponding period, but this cannot be related precisely to individual years.

Mr. Farr

In view of the steady erosion of land for reservoir use, will my hon. Friend consider pressing upon the appropriate Minister the need to go ahead with a desalination plant in this country, either where the Ipswich plant was planned originally or at some suitable point on our coast?

Mr. Stodart

My right hon. Friend is ready to consider any desalination plant, provided that it is efficient and economical.

Mr. Hooson

Will the Minister tell us what the relationship will be between his Ministry and the new river authorities which will have responsibility for this matter, whether they have put projected schemes before him for the next five years, and whether that land is included in his estimate?

Mr. Stodart

I think, "Yes", but I will look into that and let the hon. and learned Gentleman know.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Will my hon. Friend see that when land is acquired for reservoirs the worst agricultural land is taken and not the best as is frequently the case in the North of England?

Mr. Stodart

We shall certainly do whatever we can to preserve the best agricultural land.

Mr. Barry Jones

Is the Minister aware that if he can persuade his colleagues in the Department of the Environment to build a barrage across the Dee Estuary there will be no flooding whatsoever of any valleys in North Wales?

Mr. Stodart

I certainly take note of what the hon. Gentleman said.