Estuarine Development Schemes

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly 12:00 am, 16th March 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to how many estuarine development schemes are presently under consideration for England and Wales.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I am not sure what an estuarine development scheme is.

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly

If that is the case, I am not quite sure what we have a Secretary of State for the Environment for.

When the right hon. Gentleman gets round to doing some work in his Department and starts to identify the many estuaries around the coast of England and Wales threatened by developments — to control the ebb and flow of water or provide marinas, barrages or crossings — perhaps he will take the opportunity to study the number of estuaries affected by such developments and identified as sites of special scientific interest. When he has done that, will he be prepared to make a clear statement to the country about the value that he attaches to sites of special scientific interest when they are threatened by development?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I would not dare to make any clear statement about any matter to do with planning in Wales. As the hon. Gentleman knows, it has nothing to do with me. As any application for development in relation to an estuary or anywhere else comes forward, it will be treated in the normal way and all relevant considerations will be properly weighed.

Photo of Anthony Steen Anthony Steen , South Hams

Since I have virtually more estuaries in my constituency than Labour voters, will my right hon. Friend be good enough, when looking at estuarial development, to realise the pressure on the land around estuaries, particularly in constituencies such as mine, where there are areas of outstanding natural beauty and where people want to come and live and constantly want to erode the natural beauty of the area? Will he consider issuing some circular or guidance to encourage local planning authorities to resist any suggestion that areas such as that should be spoilt for development?

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I shall certainly resist any Labour voter development schemes that come to my notice. The factors that my hon. Friend mentioned are important and are, or should be, taken into account at the level of applications, and certainly will be if anything comes to me on appeal. I think that these matters are already covered adequately in circulars.