HC Deb 27 February 1980 vol 979 cc1348-9
19. Mr. Cadbury

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in view of the effect on Birmingham's water supply, he will institute a review of the decision to allow the diversion of additional water from the Elan reservoirs to the River Wye.

Mr. Fox

This decision was taken jointly with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. We have been looking at the timing of implementing the variation to the Elan Valley reservoirs abstraction licence and we shall be writing to the Severn-Trent water authority about this.

Mr. Cadbury

Is my hon. Friend aware that the decision to divert water from the Elan reservoir to the River Wye significantly reduces the reliable supply of water to Birmingham? Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that in the event of a very dry summer Birmingham will not be allowed to run out of water?

Mr. Fox

My hon. Friend will remember that this decision came about because of the drought and its effect in southeast Wales. I can give him the assurance that Birmingham's water will be protected. The decision letter stated that the Secretaries of State were confident that the Welsh Water Authority would have due regard to the Severn-Trent water authority's needs respecting the Birmingham supply.

Mr. Sever

Will the Minister, having regard to what will be the phenomenal growth in demand for water in Birmingham over the next 20 years, inform the House of the progress in the provision of new reservoirs in Wales?

Mr. Fox

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that the acceptance of the need for an increase in water consumption year after year is a matter of deep concern. Perhaps the House should occasionally think about water conservation rather than regularly discussing the creation of more reservoirs. If the hon. Gentleman cares to write to me shall be happy to give him an answer.