HL Deb 23 May 1973 vol 342 cc1196-8

2.48 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government to what extent the estimated European traffic from the proposed new Maplin Seaport was taken into account when estimating the revenues and traffic of the proposed new Channel Tunnel and where these estimates can be found in the published Green Paper on the Channel Tunnel project.


My Lords, no firm detailed proposals have yet been submitted for a Maplin seaport, but it is expected that it would be used primarily for deep-sea cargoes. The extent to which a container berth there for European cargoes might attract traffic was not specifically estimated by the Channel Tunnel consultants, who did, however, consider competition from all the East Anglian and Thames Estuary ports taken together.


My Lords, is it not a strange way to come to a decision, when we have two immense projects like these, for one to be considered without any consideration of the effect of the other? Can we not expect that, before Parliament is asked to vote sums of money for further steps to the Channel Tunnel, we shall have some estimate as to what the effect will be of the Maplin seaport?


My Lords, I think my original Answer indicates that the competition from all East Anglian and Thames Estuary ports was weighed by the consultants. I am conscious that I owe the noble Lord a letter on the more detailed aspects of the interaction between these two projects, which I hope to be able to send him within the next week or so; but his next Question deals with all the other studies about which we need further information before coming to a decision.


My Lords, while the noble Lord says that the effect or the interaction of the traffic from other seaports was taken into account, is it not a fact that when those estimates were made Maplin was specifically excluded; and if one takes into account what his right honourable friend Lord Aldington said the other day about the proposed new traffic from the Maplin seaport, is this not a mistake?


No, my Lords; I do not think so. The traffic and the demand for port facilities on both sides of the Channel is there already. The addition of a seaport at Maplin would make some difference, but in so far as it is primarily designed for deep sea cargoes it will not make a very great difference. But the total traffic analysis was made by the consultants.


My Lords, would not a seaport at Maplin also affect the rest of the ports along the Thames by virtue of the fact that it is abundantly clear that many of the very large bulk ships now being built will not be able to get to the traditional ports but will have to go to Maplin and elsewhere at the mouth of the Thames? Will that fact be taken into consideration at the same time as the change of traffic routes is considered?


Yes, my Lords. The interaction on all the different ports in East Anglia and the Thames Estuary will have to be weighed and certainly before approval is given under Section 9 of the Harbours Act on the basis of the review by the National Ports Council. But that is rather a different point from the one which arises from the original Question.

known their views on these studies as