Dee Estuary

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 21st March 2007.

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Photo of Ben Chapman Ben Chapman Labour, Wirral South 11:30 am, 21st March 2007

What recent discussions he has held with the First Secretary on management of the Dee estuary.

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

My right hon. Friend and I have regular discussions with the First Minister to discuss a range of issues, including marine and environmental matters.

Photo of Ben Chapman Ben Chapman Labour, Wirral South

My hon. Friend will recognise that the Dee estuary is a globally important environmental site and that when in the late 1990s a decision was taken on dredging in the estuary it was done on the basis of a balance between economy and ecology. Can he assure me that when a new application comes in for further dredging, he will take a balanced view and consult all the agencies on it?

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for pressing this issue regularly. It is important that we do everything that we can to protect the Airbus jobs at Broughton on which thousands of people in North Wales and in constituencies such as his depend. I understand that the Welsh Assembly Government, the Environment Agency and the Marine Fisheries Agency met recently to agree a plan and timetable for consideration of new consents, and those will be required by August this year. They have been in contact with the Port of Mostyn throughout the duration of the existing consents, and the port has been apprised of the environmental reports that will be required in support of the new application.