§ 51. Mr. Hardy
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give further consideration to the proposed improvement of the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation, in view of the increased tonnage which is likely to be carried on this canal including the transportation of limestone and of raw material for the steel industry which can reduce reliance upon scrap.
§ Mr. Denis Howell
The Government have given very careful consideration to the British Waterways Board's proposals for improving the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation. There is considerable uncertainty about the traffic which might be attracted to an improved water240W way but in the Government's view it is unlikely to be sufficient to produce an adequate return on what would be by general standards a high-risk investment. Nor does it seem likely that the scheme would generate sufficient environmental or other external benefits to tip the balance. We have therefore reluctantly concluded that it would not be right to commit resources to it at a time when there are severe constraints on public expenditure and the pressure on limited resources is so acute. We have, however, recently launched detailed consultations on the proposal that the British Waterways Board should be merged into the new national water authority proposed in the consultative document on the review of the water industry. If that proposal goes ahead I would ask the new Authority to reconsider this scheme at an early stage in the light of its own priorities and resources.