HC Deb 02 December 1987 vol 123 c921
8. Mr. Gerald Howarth

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next plans to meet the chairman of the Severn-Trent water authority; and what subjects will be discussed.

Mr. Moynihan

My noble Friend the Minister for Environment, Countryside and Water met the chairman of Severn-Trent water authority on 27 November. My right hon. Friend expects to meet him, with the other water authority chairmen, in January and I intend to visit the authority and some of its operational sites in the new year. No doubt we shall discuss our proposals for a National Rivers Authority and the excellent prospects of the water authorities for privatisation.

Mr. Howarth

Is my hon. Friend aware that the chairman, Mr. John Bellak, is both diligent and competent —indeed, one might describe him as a good bloke—and that under his leadership the Severn-Trent water authority looks forward immensely to being in the van of privatisation? When my hon. Friend meets Mr. Bellak, will he tell Mr. Bellak that he will rise even further in our estimation if he brings about the new Cannock sewage works in 1993, if not in 1991?

Mr. Moynihan

I shall certainly relay my hon. Friend's latter point to Mr. Bellak when I meet him. I place on record the view of everyone in the water industry and hon. Members on both sides that Mr. Bellak is not only diligent and competent, but has a first-rate management team to support him.

Mr. Allan Roberts

When the Minister meets the chairman of the Severn-Trent water authority, will he discuss the Department of the Environment study No. 23? According to it, nitrate levels are rising in 100 water sources in Anglia and the Severn-Trent area, in 41 out of 125 ground water sources in the Severn-Trent area nitrates already exceed EC directive levels of 50 mls, and 1.8 million people are drinking nitrate polluted water. Will the Minister point out that water metering installations on a compulsory basis will cost more than £2 billion and that it would cost only £200 million to remove nitrates from water?

Mr. Moynihan

All water authorities must take important investment decisions to meet both our quota and European directive requirements. I shall certainly discuss with Mr. Bellak the important action that is being taken by his water authority to tackle the nitrate problem.

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