asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further progress has been reported to him by the Essex and Kent River Authorities in their investigations into the downstream flood defences associated with or arising from the Thames Floor Barrier; and whether he is now in a position to give an estimate of the cost of these works in Essex and in Kent, respectively.
As I told my hon. Friend on 9th February, the problems involved are complex. Both the Essex and Kent River Authorities are proceeding with investigational work in conjunction with soil mechanic experts of the Building Research Station. It will be some time before these investigations and subsequent design work reach a stage where reliable estimates of cost can be made.—[Vol. 811, c. 261–2.]
In view of the complexity and extent of these works, is my hon. Friend satisfied that they can be completed at the same time as the barrier? Will he assure the House, first of all, that there is no question of the barrier being put into operation before the downstream flood defences are completed? Secondly, since some of the river frontages are privately owned and outside the jurisdiction of the river authorities, is he satisfied that the authorities have adequate powers to co-ordinate the work on the defences and that there will be no gaps?
I should like to be quite sure about the second point my hon. Friend made and I will write to him about it, but I believe that all is in order in that respect. In regard to his first point, one of the matters which is exercising us is the need to co-ordinate work with the design of the barrier.
Mr. Brian Harrison:
In view of the fact that it is thought that the subsoil in parts of the Essex coast is not strong enough to hold the necessary barriers, will my hon. Friend give an undertaking that no work will be carried out upstream which will inundate parts of my constituency or Essex generally?
Work upstream has already started with the raising of the walls, but I can undertake that we shall see to it that the work is so co-ordinated that what my hon. Friend has suggested will not happen.