HC Deb 24 March 2004 vol 419 c874
10. Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on dredging in the Dee estuary. [162551]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

Following completion of the environmental assessment, further discussions are taking place between the regulators and the port of Mostyn to establish whether there are alternative solutions that will meet the needs of Airbus. If none is found, consideration can be given to allowing the dredging to proceed if there is an overriding public interest.

Mr. Chapman

Does my right hon. Friend agree with the Environment Agency for Wales that misleading reports are abroad about this issue? Although I defer to no one in my recognition of the importance of Airbus, the Dee estuary is a vastly important habitat and ecological site which dredging has the potential to damage. Does my right hon. Friend agree that all aspects of the argument must be taken into consideration when decisions are made, and that those decisions must be based on facts, not misinformation?

Mr. Hain

Of course I agree that environmental issues must be taken into account, especially in the light of the habitats directive. I am sure that my hon. Friend will accept, however, that Airbus is a vital local manufacturer in his part of the world—and one of the best in Europe—and it must succeed in the future. The wings that it makes, which are transported to Toulouse, are a vital part of the A380 world-beating aeroplane. Airbus will go from strength to strength, and these problems need to be resolved as soon as possible.