HC Deb 20 March 1989 vol 149 cc722-3
11. Mr. Raffan

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the involvement of the Welsh Development Agency in the proposed Deeside waterfront project.

Mr. Peter Walker

The Welsh Development Agency is assisting the local authorities concerned in the area to evaluate the impact of the project.

Mr. Raffan

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the serious concern in north Wales that Tarmac and Clwyd county council have persistently misrepresented the Welsh Development Agency as being in support of the Deeside waterfront project when the agency's stance is one of neutrality? As the area can support only one large out-of-town retail centre and, currently, three such schemes are being proposed locally, will my right hon. Friend ensure that there is a public inquiry on the Deeside project, especially now that the Secretary of State for the Environment is insisting on a public inquiry on the Chester scheme?

Mr. Walker

My hon. Friend will understand that I have to wait to see what decisions are made and then decide what actions to take. It would be wrong of me to comment on any potential planning applications. I can confirm that, as with all local authorities, the Welsh Development Agency's role is to assist in the evaluation of a project. That is the task that it is carrying out.

Mr. Barry Jones

May I emphasise that Alyn and Deeside district council, Clwyd county council and Cheshire county council support the scheme? They are supported wholeheartedly by Connah's Quay, Shotton, Queensferry, Sealand, Saltney, Buckley and Hawarden town councils, and others, myself included. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that, in 1980, 8,000 steel jobs were lost at Shotton? The travel-to-work area still has 9,000 or more people out of work. The project is earmarked to be developed on derelict land which is the site of our old blast furnaces at Shotton steelworks. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to hear every side of this important matter.

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct—I must hear every side on this important matter. The hon. Gentleman realises that I cannot comment on this potential application, but I promise that I shall consider all points of view very carefully.