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Norfolk Broads

Volume 981: debated on Tuesday 18 March 1980

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asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much of the 45,000 acres of grazing marshland present in 1960 in the Broads area will be left by the year 1990; and what measures he proposes for conserving wildlife that depends upon these marshlands for its existence.

I regret that I am not able to forecast how much grazing land will remain in the Broads area in 1990.In the exercise of any of its functions relating to land, my Department will continue to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside, together with its fauna, as set out in sections 11 and 49(4) of the Countryside Act 1968.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in the light of the fact that no information is available on the current value of marshland and agricultural land in the Norfolk Broads, on what basis the analysis of costs and benefits determined for the Yare barrier proposal was made; and how he determines priorities currently in the allocation of drainage grants in this region.

As I have already explained, the decision whether to go ahead with the Yare Barrier is initially for the Anglian water authority. Any assessment of costs and benefits is therefore also a matter for the authority at this stage.Priority in the choice of drainage schemes in their area for submission to my Department for grant aid is a matter for decision by the water authority in the light of its capital investment allocation and of its knowledge of local conditions and needs.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the value of grants given to increase the efficiency of arable production in the Nor- folk Broads region within the last two years; and what criteria he uses when refusing applications for such grant aid in order to conserve the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside.

I regret that statistics on the value of grants paid are not kept separately for the Norfolk Broads area. The statistics which are collected do not distinguish between grant-aided investment in arable or non-arable production.Each application for grant is considered on its merits in relation to the need to conserve the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside. If it is considered that the damage to the environment outweighs the agricultural benefits in a specific case grant may be refused.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consultation he has had with the Anglian water authority concerning the proposed Yare barrier.

Four years ago my Department approved an application by the Anglian water authority for grant aid under the Land Drainage Act 1976 towards the cost of a study into the feasibility of protecting agricultural land in the Yare basin from periodic flooding. Since then the water authority has kept my Department informed of its consultations with other bodies. The authority is aware that the Department is unable to express any views on the proposal until an application for grant is submitted supported by the necessary technical and financial data.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many farmers live within the Broadlands area defined by the internal drainage district of the East Suffolk and Norfolk river authority; and what is the average size and value of their holdings.