Thames Barrier

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1971.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Acton 12:00 am, 9th June 1971

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will publish the engineering assessment of alternative designs for the Thames Barrier.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I am informed that the Greater London Council's second report of studies will include a section on the various types of structure examined by engineers and the conclusions drawn. As I said in the statement which I circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT of 28th April last, when I receive the council's report I shall, with agreement, place copies in the Library.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Acton

I thank the Minister for that reply. Would not he recall that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced last December that he had accepted a particular design and that the G.L.C. announced similarly so in March? Does not the Minister consider that a six-month gap between the announcement of a Government policy and the publication of these facts is not good government?

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Because of the grave risk of tidal flooding, it has been necessary to take certain decisions, especially on the location of the barrier, the type of barrier, the amount of grant to be made and so on, so that the trial borings and the design work can go ahead as swiftly as possible. It has been necessary to make those decisions because today we are faced with odds against a tidal flood in London as short as 34 to 1, and shortening all the time.

Photo of Mr Peter Trew Mr Peter Trew , Dartford

Would not my hon. Friend agree that the main requirement of the Thames flood barrier is now to get it built together with the associated downstream flood defences? Would he consider appointing one man with overall executive responsibility for the entire project? At present there is uncertainty in the public mind as to who is responsible.

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

I do not think so, but I will take suggestions as to who that "one man" should be.

Photo of Bernard Braine Bernard Braine , Essex South East

Would my right hon. Friend give an assurance that careful thought is being given not merely to the effect of tidal and surge behaviour on the defences of downstream authorities but, because of the combination of the installation of a Thames barrier with large-scale dredging of sands, to the alteration of the configuration of the estuary which will flow from the establishment of a Foulness airport?

Photo of Mr Graham Page Mr Graham Page , Crosby

Yes, indeed. These are important matters which are receiving deep consideration.