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Gravel Workings, Lea Valley

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1949

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32 and 33.

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planing (1) what conditions he proposes to lay down in connection with the request of the St. Albans Sand and Gravel Company for permission to develop further gravel diggings in the vicinity of the Lea Valley tomato and cucumber industries; and, in particular, if one of these conditions will be excavation by means of wet grabs;

(2) when he expects to announce the result of the inquiry, held in January of this year, into the application of the St. Albans Sand and Gravel Co. to extract gravel dry from pits in the vicinity of the Lea Valley tomato and cucumber glass houses.

My decision to allow a limited form of wet working by the St. Albans Sand and Gravel Company at Nazeing was issued yesterday. As the decision letter is somewhat long and detailed, with my hon. Friend's permission I am sending her a copy. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Health is issuing a licence limiting the amount by which the subsoil water level may be lowered.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this long delay has very well suited this company, since they have been pumping from their old pits and, although they gave eight million gallons of water as the estimate, they have been pumping 12 million gallons from their old pits, the subsidence of the houses is increasing, and tomato growers have not the water necessary for heavy waterings at this time of the year?

I can assure my hon. Friend that such delay as has occurred was not for the benefit of the applicants. All the other facts will be taken into account in arriving at a decision.

May I ask my hon. Friend why he has given this facility to this particular company, and why, while every other new company in the area has had to observe the three directives he gave to gravel diggers, this company has not had to observe them?