HC Deb 19 July 1995 vol 263 cc1659-60
14. Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he next expects to meet representatives of the National Rivers Authority to discuss dredging activities in the Wash. [33386]

Mr. Gummer

I have regular meetings with the NRA.

Mr. Bellingham

The Secretary of State will be aware that, in the near future, he will consider a number of new dredging licence applications for the extraction of sand from the Wash for use in the beach renourishment scheme on the Lincolnshire coast. Is he aware that, when dredging took place last autumn, there was serious damage to the brown shrimp fishery in the Wash? Will he confirm today that if, as a result of the new dredging applications, there is serious damage to the fishery, the dredging will stop? Will he also confirm that if there is any loss to the local fishermen, they will be paid proper compensation?

Mr. Gummer

Last year, it was necessary to take material from the Race bank to ensure that there was no damage by storms on the Lincolnshire coast. I think that my hon. Friend will agree that we need to use the soft protection increasingly effectively. He will know that I am determined that the use of this material should not destroy the environment or the fisheries. Although this is overwhelmingly a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, I will ensure that the environment is the first part of any decision that is made. I assure my hon. Friend that I shall do my best to protect his constituents' interests.