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Flood Prevention (Kent)

Volume 886: debated on Thursday 20 February 1975

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will request the Southern Water Authority to submit emergency plans to prevent or mitigate flooding, particularly in the areas of Edenbridge, Leigh, Hildenborough and Tonbridge to be completed before the end of 1975 if possible.

The prevention of flooding in these areas is a matter for the Southern Water Authority. I understand that its view is that it would not be practicable to carry out emergency works pending a decision on the main scheme.

Is the Minister aware that the proposed barrage of the Medway, flooding 1,000 acres in my constituency, will expose many houses to flooding twice or thrice a year for the next five years? That is unsatifactory. Will he ask the Southern Water Authority to re-examine the possibility of dredging the Medway and raising the level of the wall which could protect Tonbridge and other areas from flooding? The consultants on the job have already wasted six years. Will he give them a bit of a jerk?

I have noted what the hon. Gentleman said. He will appreciate that there are many complexities in the last report produced by the consultants, and reaction to it was very mixed. I remind the hon. Gentleman that this is a matter for the Southern Water Authority. We cannot tell it how to do its job.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the absence of any alternative my constituents are behind the implementation of this scheme and look to his right hon. Friend to hold his statutory inquiry in May or June of this year so that the necessary Private Bill can be introduced in the next Session?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall give the authorities all the help and support that they need in these matters.