§ 8. Mr. Campbell-Savours
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next intends to visit Bassenthwaite to inspect the water quality.
§ Mr. Maclean
My right hon. and learned Friend and I have no plans to visit Bassenthwaite lake officially. However, we are totally committed to preservation of the quality of the English lakes and rare species such as vendace. I therefore welcome the National Rivers Authority's detailed study of water quality in the lake to assess the impact of discharges. The NRA has full power to seek improvements in the light of the results of that study.
§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
Would not it be prudent, before designating Bassenthwaite a national nature reserve, to establish the cause of the pollution indicated by the algae blooms that float on the surface of the lake? Is not it up to North West Water, recognising that the lake, which is in the heart of the Lake District, is dying, to bring forward its investment programme from 1998? Should not it invest now to end the pollution from Keswick sewage works?
§ Mr. Maclean
I assure the hon. Gentleman that water flows and levels in the Derwent catchment area are being examined and that this new and very thorough examination of water quality will look for links between sewage discharges, nutrient levels and fish populations. Whether or not Bassenthwaite is designated a sensitive area, the NRA has power to order North West Water to upgrade Keswick sewage works at any time if it regards such action as justified. But it is right that we should first get the results of the study. I am sure that the NRA will explain all this to the hon. Gentleman at their meeting on 5 February and I look forward to a personal invitation from the hon. Gentleman to go fishing with him on England's second most beautiful lake, after Ullswater.