HC Deb 09 February 2004 vol 417 cc1232-3W
Bob Spink

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the transport infrastructure projects which are required in order to facilitate the provision of 120,000 additional homes in the Thames Gateway in such a way as is consistent with the concept of sustainable communities; and which of those projects has received the Government's commitment that the necessary public funding will be made available. [153492]

Keith Hill

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced on 30 July 2003 that the Government would commit support that would enable the development of at least 120,000 homes in the Thames Gateway by 2016. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be supporting development across the Gateway, with particular focus on five strategic locations; East London Gateway, Greenwich Peninsula to Woolwich, Barking Reach, Thurrock and Ebbsfleet/North Kent Thameside.

In his statement, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister identified the transport infrastructure projects that are critical to supporting growth. These include domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, extensions to the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) network and bus transit systems for East and South East London and Kent Thameside.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has approved a consultation exercise by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) on a proposed Integrated Kent Franchise that incorporates CTRL Domestic Services. The Government have asked Kent County Council to develop their proposals for Kent Fastrack Phase 2 and made a provisional offer of up to £200 million PFI credits to support the Thames Gateway Bridge. The Mayor has announced that he is committed to taking forward the highlighted London schemes, however this remains subject to planning and funding.

Bob Spink

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the 120,000 new homes envisaged for the Thames Gateway he estimates will not be deliverable without a major enhancement of flood defences; to what extent further development in the Thames Gateway may be prevented without major enhancement of flood defences; and when the Government expects to(a) agree and (b) begin to implement a programme of major enhancement of flood defences in the Thames Gateway. [153511]

Keith Hill

Growth in the Thames Gateway will be largely concentrated on previously developed land in existing urban areas. Concentration of the development on priority areas substantially reduces the requirement for extra flood defences since most of the Thames Estuary is already protected to a greater than 1:1000 year level (possibility of 0.1 per cent. of flooding in any one year) until 2030. This includes a generous allowance for future sea level rise until 2030 and is a far higher standard of protection than in most other parts of the UK.

There are some parts of the Gateway that do not benefit from defences to this standard, notably the Medway Estuary. However, where development is proposed in such areas, we will ensure that appropriate defence measures are put in place to provide flood risk protection standards as required by Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 on 'Development and Flood Risk'. We shall also seek to ensure that the appropriate design and siting of development is considered through an assessment of flood risk that is required for all Office of the Deputy Prime Minister funded development in the Gateway.

The Environment Agency is currently conducting a major study, entitled 'Thames Estuary 2100', of flood risk management for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It is expected that this will take approximately six years to report, and that proposals for the renewal and possible enhancement of flood defences in the Thames Gateway will be implemented between 2015 and 2035. Much of this improvement would have been required even if no extra housing had been envisaged.

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