asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the Essex and Kent River Authorities will have progressed far enough with their technical investigations to enable him to publish an estimate of the cost of the flood defences in Essex and Kent arising out of or associated with the Thames Flood Barrier.
The problems associated with raising the estuarial flood defences in Essex and Kent are extremely complex and are likely to have a material effect on cost. Ministry engineers are in close consultation with the two river authorities, but it is too early to forecast when reliable cost figures will be available.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the grave concern amongst ratepayers and riparian owners in Kent and Essex about the possible financial burden arising from these works? Will he take an early opportunity to publish his proposals for financing them?
As soon as we have got the rather complex problems worked out, I will endeavour to do as my hon. Friend asks. The question of grant aid has been agreed in principle for the river authority works. It is true that the actual financial arrangements have still to be agreed. I will endeavour to ensure that they are agreed as soon as possible.