HC Deb 02 June 1997 vol 295 c106W
Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will reassess the need for the Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme with particular reference to climate changes; and if he will make a statement. [1729]

Mr. Morley

There are no plans to review the need for the Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton Flood Alleviation Scheme, which was the subject of a detailed local public inquiry in 1992. The Inspector at the inquiry concluded that there was a compelling need for the scheme to proceed in order to provide protection to some 4,800 households, 700 commercial buildings and major communications links. Also, this Department was satisfied that the Environment Agency's proposed works met the technical, environmental and economic criteria for grant aid.

The possible impact of climate change has been fully considered by the Environment Agency during scheme design. Although there has been a trend towards lower average rainfall in southern England in recent years, studies related to global climate change suggest a possible increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events of the type against which this scheme is intended to provide protection. Whilst there is insufficient evidence to quantify any such changes at present, it would clearly be inappropriate to design the scheme for anything less than the flood conditions experienced in the past 50 years.