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Shellhaven Scheme

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the Shellhaven Pact proposals in the Thames Estuary on (a) ground water levels in the Castle Point constituency and (b) the fishing industry in that area. [117994]

The Environment Agency has a duty to secure the proper use of water resources in England and Wales. The Agency advises me that the main water bearing aquifer in the area is chalk which, because it is hydraulically isolated from the surface by being deeply buried beneath London clay, will not be affected by the Shellhaven proposal.The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), an Executive Agency of Defra, provides expert scientific advice on marine and freshwater issues. It has contributed to the current public inquiry into the Shellhaven scheme given the international importance of the Thames Estuary as an area for sole spawning and juvenile sole. CEFAS has recommended that further survey work be carried out and assessment made of whether seasonal restrictions on dredging may be necessary to mitigate any adverse impact.