HC Deb 12 April 1978 vol 947 cc1386-7
15. Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action his Department has taken to investigate the effects of coastal damage during the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Shore

Following the recent storms, Ministers and departmental officials visited a number of areas which had been severely affected.

Certain local authorities have submitted schedules of damage to coast protection works and further visits have been made where necessary to assess how much of the repair work qualifies for central Government grant under the Coast Protection Act of 1949.

Mr. Marshall

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Will he confirm that the amount of damage in the last 12 months has been exceptional? Will he say when he hopes to come forward with a clearer view of the picture, particularly in relation to the uncertain responsibility of local government and central Government on financial assistance issues?

Mr. Shore

This Question deals with coastal protection, not flood damage. Flood damage comes under a separate Act, and is the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture. We shall try to get a picture as soon as local authorities inform us of the extent of the damage suffered to the coastline. As the hon. Member may recall from yesterday's Budget Statement, the Chancellor indicated that extra resources would be made available this year, under this legislation, to help deal with the problem.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Will the Secretary of State take account of the idea that some part of the money mentioned in the Budget yesterday—a total of about £20 million—should be allocated to Southampton University, which is doing good work investigating the effect of dredging in the Solent and the English Channel? Certainly it is believed that this is affecting the coastline in the Isle of Wight and other parts of the South Coast. If the scheme can be extended in this way it would be very valuable.

Mr. Shore

I shall consider that matter. Whether it is a departmental responsibility that accrues to me I doubt, but that does not mean that I cannot talk to my right hon. Friend who holds that responsibility.

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