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Fluvial Strategy (River Trent)

Volume 402: debated on Thursday 3 April 2003

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13.

If she will make a statement on the progress of the fluvial strategy for the River Trent. [106694]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(Mr. Elliot Morley)

I understand from the Environment Agency that its study leading to a flood management strategy for the fluvial Trent is proceeding well. The agency currently anticipates that it will be completed in March 2004.

I thank the Minister for his answer. The communities of Willington, Barrow upon Trent and Shardlow in my constituency are waiting with anxiety for the outcome of the report, which they hope will give guidance about both the true nature of flood risk in their villages and the appropriate defence measures that can be devised. Can he give me some assurance that they will receive some interim guidance on the progress of this very important study?

Yes, I can. I know that my hon. Friend takes a close interest in flood defence and I understand that the test options for flood management should be complete in July 2003. There should be an interim progress report in April 2003, which his constituents will be able to see. The Trent is a very complex river system in which I have to declare an interest, as it forms the western boundary of my constituency. Such a study offers a wide range of benefits for helping us to understand the whole management of water and the best options for protecting communities.

Presumably, the fluvial strategy that the Government are following for the River Trent will not be dissimilar to strategies for the rest of the country. Will the Minister confirm that the fluvial strategy encompasses dredging and that such rivers are dredged as frequently today as they were five or 10 years ago?

I can confirm that if the strategy identifies that dredging should be an aspect of river management, it will be done. I caution that dredging often has limited benefits for a variety of reasons. Nevertheless, it could have a role to play and if such a role is identified, dredging will form part of the strategy that we will implement.