§ '.—(1) When managing the inland bay (including when doing so to comply with a direction given under section 12(1)(b) above) the Development Corporation shall have regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna.
§ (2) The Development Corporation shall consult the Countryside Council for Wales to seek their view as to ways in which the inland bay may be managed so as to develop and conserve flora and fauna.'—[Mr. Gwilym Jones.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
§ Madam Speaker
With this, it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 11, in clause 1, page 2, line 3, leave out from 'to' to end of line 24 and insert'provide no less access to a range of pleasure craft and other vessels than at present and to participation and other open-air recreational activities for those of modest means in sailing, other water sports and other open air recreational activities no less than at present.'.
§ Government amendment No. 1.
§ Amendment No. 86, in page 2, line 16, leave out 'or expedient'.
§ Government amendment No. 2.
Amendment No. 87, in page 2, line 24, at end insert
'or for the purposes of developing or conserving flora or fauna'.
§ Government amendment No. 3.
§ Amendment No. 16, in clause 2, page 3, line 1, leave out subsection (4).
Amendment No. 93, in page 3, line 2, at end insert
',averting displacement of,'.
§ Government amendment No. 4.
§ Amendment No. 18, in page 3, line 6, leave out 'in' and insert before'.
§ Amendment No. 20, in page 3, line 7, leave out 'develop and'.
§ Amendment No. 21, in page 3, line 7, after 'conserve', insert 'and develop'.
§ Amendment No. 94, in page 3, line 7, after 'conserve', insert 'and avert displacement of'.
Amendment No. 22, in page 3, line 8, at end insert
'and shall publish a report on the outcome of such consultations and shall publish detailed estimates of the general environmental impact of such works and of specific reductions in the populations of such flora and fauna as are present in the natural environment of the inland bay.'.
Amendment No. 23, in page 3, line 8, at end insert
'(5) Before executing the works authorised by section 1 above the Development Corporation shall have published proposals for mitigating works with respect of any adverse environment impact arising from assessments under (4) above.'.
§ Government amendment No. 5.
§ Amendment No. 45, in clause 9, page 5, line 45, leave out 'developing and'.340
§ Amendment No. 46, in page 5, line 45, after 'conserving', insert 'the'.
Amendment No. 47, in page 5, line 46, at end insert
'and developing new flora and fauna in it'.
Amendment No. 48, in page 6, line 2, after 'Wales', insert
'and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds'.
§ Amendment No. 49, in page 6, line 3, leave out 'develop and'.
§ Amendment No. 50, in page 6, line 3, after 'conserve', insert 'the'.
§ Amendment No. 51, in page 6, line 3, leave out 'in' and nsert 'of.
Amendment No. 52, in page 6, line 4, at end insert
'and develop new flora and fauna in it'.
Amendment No. 105, in page 6, line 4, at end insert
'and on any area of land of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna or geological or physiographical features which may lie adjacent to any of the works authorised by section 1 above.'.
Amendment No. 106, in page 6, line 4, at end insert
'and displaced from it.'.
§ Amendment No. 108, in clause 14, page 8, line 22, leave out 'desirability' and insert 'encouragement'.
Amendment No. 109, in page 8, line 23, leave out 'enabling the local community' and insert
'those residing within five kilometres of the inland bay'.
§ Amendment No. 110, in page 8, line 24, after 'in', insert' and around'.
Amendment No. 61, in page 8, line 25, at end add
'and to avoid any reduction of access for such craft vessels, sports and activities by those of modest means.'.
Amendment No. 62, in page 8, line 25, at end add—
'(4)The Development Corporation shall make reasonable compensation to owners of pleasure craft presently moored in the inland bay, whose vessels are incompatible with the design of the lock gates.'.
Amendment No. 121, in schedule 2, page 17, line 30, at beginning insert
'Subject to sub-paragraph (5) below,'.
Amendment No. 123, in page 18, line 15, at end insert—
'(5)No reclamation of land for the purpose of creating islands in the inland bay under paragraph (g) of sub-paragraph (1) above shall take place without the express agreement of the Countryside Council for Wales and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.'.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
The Government have tabled new clause I and amendments Nos. 1 to 5 to fulfil a commitment given in Committee. Indeed, the amendments go further than that. As I said in Committee, the Government and the development corporation recognise the need to develop new wildlife habitats in the impounded bay and attach great importance to doing so. That is why I gave the undertaking to table an amendment which put into effect the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan)to add the development or conservation of nature to the list of purposes for which the ancillary powers in clause 1(5) may be implemented.
Amendment No. 3 has precisely that effect. The development corporation will be required to exercise its power to carry out ancillary work to develop or protect flora and fauna as well as to facilitate the use of the inland bay and outer harbour for boating, water sports and open air recreational activities. Amendment No. 3 relates to a clause different from the clause to which the amendment tabled in Committee by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West related, but taken with the consequential amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 5, the effect is exactly that which he sought to achieve in Committee.
341 As I have said, the Government intend to go further on the question of flora and fauna. The development corporation is already obliged to have regard to the desirability of conserving flora and fauna when it carries out any of the works authorised by clause 1, whether they are main or ancillary works. The corporation is also required to consult the Countryside Council for Wales and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds about the measures which should be taken to meet that obligation. It is an entirely appropriate provision which we do not seek to change. At the same time, we believe there to be a parallel need to ensure that any works carried out to that end are appropriate.
Amendment No. 4, therefore, extends the consultation requirements specifically for that purpose. That will ensure that the development corporation has access to the best advice at an early stage so that nature conservation considerations are given the appropriate emphasis in the planning and execution of the works authorised by the Bill.
The amendments are concerned with powers related to the works. The Government have taken the view that there should be some provision for nature conservation within the bay once the barrage is built. New clause 1, therefore, will require the corporation to have regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna when managing the inland bay. It will also be obliged to consult the Countryside Council for Wales about the ways in which that could be achieved. If the corporation is obliged to carry out works in the inland bay to facilitate boating, water sports and open air recreational activities, it seems equally right that similar provisions should apply to the development or conservation of flora and fauna.
Such provisions are consistent with the duties placed on the development corporation in respect of the operation of the barrage by clause 9(2)(c) and clause 9(3). I very much hope that hon. Members will welcome the new provisions as a positive step towards creating new and varied wildlife habitats within the bay.
§ Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)
The Bill has been an immensely controversial proposal, even among Cardiff Members. It is extraordinary that, despite the amount of debate on the Bill and despite the time spent on it, the Government have still failed to address any of the critical issues contained in our reasoned amendment on Second Reading almost 12 months ago.
The Bill started as a private Bill. As some hon. Members may know, I have an especial interest in private Bill procedure given that, during the debate on the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Bill, we managed to obtain a review of private Bill procedure. Although it has taken a long time, it is soon to be implemented.
The Bill is now a hybrid Bill, so I maintain that proper consideration should be given to the Opposition's views. In Committee, the Government made only one concession on flora and fauna, and even that amendment was not tabled by Opposition Members.
Let me stress from the start that at every stage our criticism of the Bill has not been to deny the need for economic regeneration. There can be no doubt about the need for urban regeneration in the docklands of Cardiff. There must be more jobs and an end to dereliction in south Cardiff.
342 There were three components to the Opposition's reasoned amendment, none of which was accepted in Committee. We called for public consultation on ground water and for adequate compensation for householders affected by rising ground water levels, and we drew attention—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)
Order. It would be for the benefit of the House if we reminded ourselves that the new clause and amendments are fairly specific. This is neither a Second Reading nor a Third Reading debate. We have clear grounds of debate here and I should be grateful if all hon. Members would now restrict themselves to the specific new clause and amendments associated with it.
§ Mrs. Clwyd
We refer in one of our amendments to the plan to monitor the quality of the inland water to be created by the construction of the barrage. On water quality arbitration, which is very relevant and vital in deciding whether the development will create a popular amenity or a lake of sludge, the Secretary of State for Wales has reserved for himself the final decision on matters between the Cardiff Bay development corporation and the National Rivers Authority.
On all the criteria relating to ground water—safety, technical and economic—the development corporation has put forward two methods of solving the problem, but the public has had no chance to consider either method. The question that we must put to the Government tonight is: why should the Secretary of State have the last word when there should be public debate on those matters?
In Committee, the Government did not accept any of our amendments. We have tabled our amendments today because our criticisms of the Bill have not been met. The Government have given practically nothing away, although they did a deal with their own quangos, agreeing to provide an alternative feeding ground for waders such as redshanks and dunlin which, during the winter, use Cardiff bay.
We cannot be sure that the deal will stand up to legal scrutiny and that is the matter on which we want assurances tonight. When the President of the Board of Trade was, in his happier days, the Secretary of State for the Environment, he sent the issue of the intertidal mud flats of the Severn estuary to Brussels for registration as a special protection area under the 1975 EC wild birds directive. However, on 1 November 1991, the Welsh Office announced that Cardiff bay was to be excluded from the SPA proposal, although it was designated a site of special scientific interest in 1980. We should like assurances from the Government that the deal will stand up to legal scrutiny.
It is acknowledged by the Cardiff Bay development corporation that the barrage would destroy the entire SSSI, probably only the second time that such an action has occurred. That is why the Opposition have called and continue to call for an independent assessment of the environmental impact of the barrage development.
We should also like to stress the need for local democracy. The environmental officers of the city of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan will have to decide which water sports are permitted or refused, but every attempt is being made to marginalise the democratically elected councillors and yet again to concentrate decision 343 making on the quangos. In the end, however, the environmental officers of those councils will have to make the decisions.
We are also concerned about the reduction of access for small sailing boats and in respect of sports and activities undertaken by those of modest means. All the artists' impressions of Cardiff bay give the idea that it will be possible to sail small dinghies there but, under the present proposals, many owners of small boats will probably be disqualified as the water quality of the lake is unlikely to be of a sufficiently high standard to allow water sports with high water contact. The classification of dinghy sailing is at present uncertain. I remind the Government that not everyone who enjoys sailing owns a yacht.
Those are some of the reasons why we have tabled the amendments, and it is up to the Secretary of State and the Government to attempt to persuade us of the virtue of their case.
The Bill may well set a precedent, as it is estimated that 48 of 130 estuaries in the United Kingdom are subject to some sort of development proposals, including proposals for marinas. There are several barrage proposals among them—some for amenity purposes, others for power generation—and the outcome of the Cardiff bay barrage proposal could influence the consideration of future barrage schemes. That is why we consider this matter to be crucial.
Finally, I fail to understand why important documents such as the updated economic appraisal of the Cardiff bay barrage proposals arrived on our desks so late—in some cases, yesterday; in many cases, only today. Similarly, the large bundle of papers from the Welsh Office dated 24 June 1992 came to some of my hon. Friends in the post last night, to some of them in the post today, and to me, not at all. What explanation do the Government have for that? I consider it a slight on the House that the Welsh Office should have treated us in such a cavalier fashion, depriving hon. Members of an opportunity to give the Bill the close examination that such a hotly contested issue deserves.
§ Mr. Ron Davies (Caerphilly)
First, let me agree with the comments made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) about the late arrival of the documents. I am sure that the Minister will understand that, in the interests of informed debate, it is important that all hon. Members should have early and prior sight of such documents. The late arrival of the documents is typical of the way in which the Welsh Office—although not the Cardiff Bay development corporation, which, on this count, is excused blame—has handled the matter. The Welsh Office has never taken adequate steps to ensure that we can have a properly informed debate—nor has it allowed us adequate time, either in Committee or on the Floor of the House, to discuss these issues. It is quite in keeping with what my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley described as the cavalier approach adopted by the Welsh Office that we should have been deprived of access—
§ Mr. Davies
We shall certainly have plenty of time to discuss the matter today, and I shall be happy to give way to my hon. Friend if he wishes to intervene at this point.
§ Mr. Michael
My only comment is that we have not done too badly over the months as regards time for debate.
§ Mr. Davies
I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that we shall have plenty of time to debate these matters today. My point is that, if we had had prior sight of the documents, we should have been able to have a more informed debate—although as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pointed out, we are on Report and our comments must be very specific.
I refer in particular to new clause 1. It is as well to remind ourselves that the Minister who introduced the new clause, professing concern about conserving flora and fauna and apparently recognising the importance of the bay, is the self-same Minister who, in 1986, used the anonymity of the Back Benches at 2.30 pm to kill the Bill that preceded this one—the County of South Glamorgan (Taff Crossing) Bill. Exactly the same arguments were advanced against that Bill as have been advanced against this one. In considering the political machinations of the Welsh Office, it is instructive to recall that, back in 1986 and from the anonymity of the Back Benches, the Minister saw fit to defend the interests of conservation, whereas now that he has responsibility for the matter and could put his concerns into practice, he has become party to a Bill, which—I believe for the first time ever, although my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley) will correct me if I am wrong—will completely destroy a site of special scientific interest.
The Minister is offering us new clause I in an attempt to offset some of the worst effects of the development. It states:When managing the inland bay … the Development Corporation shall have regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna.It says nothing about placing a responsibility on the development corporation and nowhere states clearly what its duties will be. Instead, a vague form of words has been:developing and conserving flora and fauna.The Minister, in his brief introduction, referred several times to wildlife habitats. But "conserving flora and fauna" is a far cry from maintaining, developing or providing wildlife habitats: the two are completely different. "Flora" could refer to the flowers around the lakeside—the roses planted round the bay. "Fauna" could refer to the ducks—
§ Mr. Davies
We shall come to rats when we deal with water pollution.
"Fauna" could refer to seagulls or to swans or to the tame ducks feeding on bread thrown by occasional visitors. Wildlife habitats are something quite different, and the Minister has failed to understand the importance of the site of special scientific interest to national and international wildlife habitats. He certainly cannot appease us by saying that he will place on the development corporation a responsibiity todevelop and conserve flora and fauna.The new clause continues:The Development Corporation shall consult the Countryside Council for Wales".It is a bit late for the development corporation to consult the Countryside Council for Wales. When it consulted the Nature Conservancy Council, the NCC told it not to proceed with the development. When, in an attempt to 345 exert political pressure and do away with the independent scientific advice coming from the NCC, the Welsh Office and the development corporation consulted the Countryside Council for Wales, they were told in no uncertain terms—even by the Government's own appointee as chairman—not to proceed. Yet the new clause states that the development corporation will have the responsibility to consult the Countryside Council for Wales. What comfort can we derive from a new clause placing responsibility on the development corporation to consult when we know that the Welsh Office and the development corporation will not consider the views of the Countryside Council for Wales for one moment? The new clause refers to the corporation's responsibility to seek that body's views—hardly an onerous responsibility—as to ways in which the inland bay may be managed so as to develop and conserve flora and fauna.It is absolutely meaningless.
I would have had more regard for the Minister if he had come to the Dispatch Box tonight and said, "I am terribly sorry but the site of special scientific interest will be sacrificed because we want to proceed with this development," rather than proposed this mealy-mouthed new clause which attempts to reassure us that he concerns himself with the need to conserve flora and fauna. He is a different individual from the one who was prepared in 1986 to say that the destruction of this site of special scientific interest should not be accepted.
Those were my introductory remarks. I want to come to the substance of my comments on new clause 1. I have already described how new clause I and the amendments unsatisfactorily address the need to take into account the wildlife responsibilities of the Welsh Office. In 1980 the site which will be destroyed by the Bill and for which no protection is offered by new clause 1 was designated a site of special scientific interest. It was so designated because it provided a particular habitat, not for the swans and ducks that will, one hopes, be attracted by the new development, or the rats or chaffinches which will be around the site, or even the greenfly on the roses, but for a range of wildfowl and wild birds which depend for their very existence on the unique habitat of the Cardiff hay area. That is why in 1980 it was designated a site of special scientific interest.
South Glamorgan county council recognised the designation and incorporated it in its structure plan for those purposes. The Welsh Office was certainly happy with that designation.
§ Mr. Michael
I want to make one thing clear. Does my hon. Friend accept that, although the designation is accepted by South Glamorgan county council and others, the original designation was highly questionable and followed processes which would not be followed now? Indeed, it is highly questionable whether an SSSI designation would have succeeded if it had been subjected to the more careful scrutiny which must be applied now.
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend makes two points. The first is that the procedure was questionable. As I understand it, there were no objections in 1980. No one said that the procedure was questionable. Certainly, all that has happened subsequently, such as the qualification of the site under the Ramsar convention and the 346 recognition that it qualified for protection under the EC birds directive, suggests that the 1980 designation was appropriate.
§ Mr. Davies
Let me answer the points. Then I shall willingly give way to my hon. Friend. His second point was that it was doubtful whether the site would be designated today. I am perfectly prepared to accept that. We know how little concern the Government have for nature conservation. We know that they have presided over the wholesale destruction of sites which have been designated. We have seen them wriggle dishonestly and illegally out of their international obligations under the EC directive. So I fully accept my hon. Friend's second point.
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend is eager to undermine the SSSI status of the bay. I am happy to give way to him to allow him to make his point. It is relevant to new clause 1, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. Michael
I do not intend to argue with the criticisms that my hon. Friend makes of the Government's position on SSSIs. My point is simply that it is doubtful whether the bay would have been designated an SSSI under objective criteria. There were no objections to the original designation because no one was told that it was to happen. The designation was discovered after the event by many of those who were integrally involved in the environment and future of Cardiff. As one who was involved at that time, I assure my hon. Friend that the original designation had the shortcomings that I mentioned.
§ Mr. Davies
I am not sure whether I understand my hon. Friend's argument. It is a matter of fact that South Glamorgan county council recognised the site and incorporated it in its structure plan. It is a matter of fact that there were no objections. So I do not know how my hon. Friend can speculate that the site would not qualify for designation now.
§ Mr. Davies
I wish to address the other point that my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) made. I shall then happily give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said that if objective criteria were applied the site would not be designated. He has no basis for saying that. The objective criteria apply. If they were followed, the site would have to be designated a site of special scientific interest. The site meets the requirements under the Ramsar convention and the requirements to be a candidate area for protection under the EC birds directive. The only circumstances which could lead to the site not being accepted would be if the Government applied their own interpretation. They did that when they considered developing the entire Severn estuary as a special protection area. They took it upon themselves to apply in a strange way the principle of subsidiarity. They said that they would take it upon themselves to exercise discretion and exclude Cardiff bay from the designation of the Severn estuary as an SPA.
§ Mr. Davies
I will give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. We must make it clear that the designation was valid. All that has happened subsequently supports that assertion.
§ Mr. Davies
I give way first to my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe and then to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones).
§ Mr. Morley
Does my hon. Friend agree that the original designation was made because the intertidal zone of Cardiff bay had nationally important populations of calidris waders and shelducks? Those numbers have since been confirmed by independent assessments and by other conservation bodies. The Government have never quibbled with those figures. So it is not necessarily true that the designation was wrong in the first place. The same criteria as those used then are currently used for new designations of SSSIs in line with both red data book guidelines and the Government's guidelines. It is not that there was anything wrong with the original designation.
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe is an elected member of the council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. He is a well-known and respected ornithologist in his own right. We must accept his objective comment on the matter.
§ Mr. Davies
I know that my hon. Friend is desperately anxious to develop the debate and I have assured him that I shall give way to him. However, I wish to follow the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe. He brings expertise as both a politician and an objective observer. If my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth maintains that he cannot accept the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe, he must accept the advice of the Government's scientific advisers. Even if he will not accept our word for it, and even if he thinks that the RSPB is tainted as an organisation, he must accept the view of the Countryside Council for Wales. It was its unequivocal view that the site should be protected and that the barrage development should not proceed. That is the official view of the Government's wildlife advisers.
§ Mr. Davies
I am more than happy to give way but I must tell my hon. Friend that he is in a queue. We have a stacking arrangement and he has booked his place in the queue. I shall come to him in due course.
If my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth does not accept our view or that of the RSPB, he must accept the view of the Government's scientific advisers. That is the objective, authoritative view on the matter.
§ Mr. Jon Owen Jones
One of the ironies about the designation is that there is an unusual density of wading birds in the bay because the mudflats are unusually nutrient-rich. Therefore, the small invertebrates which populate the mud feed the wading birds.
348 However, it is nutrient-rich because the River Ely and, to a lesser extent these days, the Taff are extremely well-nourished by sewerage. Were an ecologically friendly Government—if we had such a thing—to propose to clean up those two rivers, which they will have to do as a result of building the barrage, the nutrient level of the water, the amount of nutrient absorbed into the mud and thus the number of invertebrates will decline, as will the density of wading birds. If the designation—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a fascinating speech and may wish to catch my eye later, but that was a very long intervention and it was quite outside normal procedure.
§ Mr. Davies
I was wondering whether my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central had quite finished.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I called the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies). If he does not wish to continue, a number of other hon. Members wish to speak.
§ Mr. Davies
I have barely started, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I most certainly want to continue, but my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central was in an unusual position—he was semi-crouching. I intended no discourtesy to you, as I know that you have the respect of the whole House and that you make judgments with great authority and we shall respect them. I was tempted by my hon. Friend's semi-crouching position. He looked rather like a redshank searching for an early supper in the basin.
The argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central is interesting. He suggested that if the water quality in the Taff and Ely rivers were improved, the value of the bay as a habitat would diminish. That has particular relevance to the amendment. I think that my hon. Friend was suggesting that I would oppose the cleaning up of those rivers because it would diminish the value of the bay for wildlife. That is entirely speculative, and we are dealing not with that but with new clause 1. If I were to stray from new clause 1, I know that you would call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, so I have no intention of being led down the tempting and fascinating path suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central.
Before I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Dr. Marek), I must tell the Minister that I do not think that he has any discretion. We know that the site qualifies under the Ramsar convention, which is an international treaty to which we are signatories. We also have a responsibility under the EC directive, as article 2 on wild birds states that when there is "irreconcilable conflict", priority must be given to "ecological needs". I should have thought that that was a crystal clear explanation of our responsibilities. If a proposed development would destroy an SSSI, it clearly conflicts irreconcilably with the wish to retain it. One cannot have half a barrage, or build a barrage and retain the environment that would thus be destroyed.
The Government's responsibility is to give priority to ecological needs. The directive does not give any discretion to the Government but tells them that they must give priority to such needs. We know that the Government's scientific advisers have also said that that is what they should do. That is important. In the Minister's brief introduction to new clause 1, he gave no sign that he 349 understood the responsibility placed on him. I shall now happily give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham.
§ Dr. Marek
I am sorry that I have to interrupt my hon. Friend's train of thought, but he is relying a little too much on the Government taking cognisance of the views of the Countryside Commission or acting legally and obeying the Ramsar treaty. The Government have no mandate in Wales—they are a minority Government. They ride roughshod over everything that people in Wales want if, for political reasons, they want something else. If some form of compulsion exists elsewhere whereby we could bring the Government to account, I suspect that the best way to proceed would be by using it. Perhaps we should go to Europe, to one of the European courts, and find out whether anything could be done there. As my hon. Friend knows more about such matters than I, perhaps he could give the House his advice as to the best procedure.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Before the hon. Member for Caerphilly is tempted down that route, could we get back to new clause 1?
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham is a tricky customer. I saw the trap that he was laying and I am grateful that you have made sure that I stick to new clause 1, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, his argument can be used in the context of new clause 1, because the Government have a responsibility. They think that they are discharging it by talking about developing and conserving flora and fauna. They think that by so doing they will avoid their international responsibilities. I understand that the RSPB are to consider taking the case to the European Court.
In framing new clause 1, the Government took into account the findings of the European Court in the Leybucht judgment, which they grievously misinterpreted when they decided to exclude Cardiff bay from the proposed designation of the Severn estuary as an area deserving and requiring protection under the birds directive. Even though that is a path that I cannot follow—much as I would like to do so—my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham may rest assured that the responsibility for exploring the need to safeguard the environment will be taken, even if it means having recourse to the European Court.
We must ask ourselves why the Minister could scupper the predecessor of the Bill, from the anonymity of the Back Benches, by shouting out, "Object", and then come along with this wholly unsatisfactory new clause in an attempt to discharge his responsibilities.
I view the changing attitudes of Ministers with fascination. We know that the Bill originated from a flight of whimsy on the part of Nicholas Edwards—now Lord Crickhowell—who was in Baltimore, saw the bay and thought, "That's a good idea. Let's have one in Cardiff." Every one of his successors in the Welsh Office has been seduced. It is almost as if there were some sort of disease there which rots their brains, or prevents them from exercising any objective consideration of the issues. However, if I go down that track I know that you will say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am not referring to new clause 1 and the amendments grouped with it.
350 I must pursue the arguments of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central who mentioned the importance of mudflats. How on earth can the development corporation have regard to the desirabilityof developing and conserving flora and fauna"—the very words of new clause 1—if we interpret those to mean wildlife? How on earth can it have that responsibility when the construction of a barrage will create a virtual desert for wildlife in the bay? That is the question that I want the Minister to answer. If he argues that flora and fauna are not the same as wildlife, I understand why the new clause fits the purpose, but if he believes that they are the same, can he explain how the development corporation can develop and conserve wildlife? It cannot do so, because a barrage will destroy the very wildlife that is of value.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central briefly mentioned the value of mudflats.
§ Mr. Jon Owen Jones
I shall be brief this time, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall listen with great interest to any later arguments about how eutrophic the barrage will make the lake. Eutrophic lakes are quite the opposite of deserts—they are filled with wildlife.
§ Mr. Davies
They are filled with life, but I am sure that you would rule, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the debate about water quality properly comes under the third group of amendments.
§ Mr. Davies
I was not seeking to guide you; I was merely speculating about your ruling.
I accept what my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central has said, but we are entitled to ask about the quality of life in such eutrophic conditions, which would be far different from existing conditions in the bay. I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of the mudflats, which are rich in nitrates and provide a home for rich and varied invertebrate life, as a feeding ground for migratory birds.
Apart from the fact that the mudflats are enriched by the downflow from the Taff and Ely, they are also intertidal. The interface between the sea and the land makes the mudflats of particular value. They are regularly flooded, so they are washed.
The mudflats are also ice-free, which is particularly important to the birds from Iceland, Greenland or Eurasia which use them in the winter. They come to the Atlantic seaboard to seek the ice-free coasts for shelter and for winter feeding. If we destroy those mudflats, we will deprive the over-wintering birds of the opportunity to enjoy that special habitat.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central has speculated that if the barrage went ahead and the bay was lost, it would not really matter. That view is not shared by the Government's advisers or by any wildlife organisation. In my hon. Friend's constituency and throughout south Wales, an endless number of organisations are opposed to the development on the ground that the bay is an integral part of the Severn estuary. That is an inescapable fact. If the bay is destroyed, the entire Severn estuary would be damaged. The Government have had that argument put to them by the Countryside Council for Wales, but they have failed to discharge their international responsibilities to 351 designate the estuary as a special protection area—an SPA. It is important to consider the damage that will be inflicted on the estuary if the bay is lost.
The Government talk about the glories of biodiversity. They lecture the third world on its responsibilities, they properly try to pressurise the Norwegians to accept their own and they lecture their European partners on their responsibilities and the need to conserve song birds in Italy and France. I applaud those laudable efforts. However, a commitment to conservation is not a hat that can be put on and taken off to suit one's convenience. If one is committed to the cause of conservation, one must accept that commitment even when it is inconvenient. The cause of conservation in the case of Cardiff bay is not convenient to the Government—that is the essence of the criticism of the Government's case. They have disregarded their responsibilities to conservation. It is worth stressing that when we consider the Cardiff bay development, which is highly speculative to say the least.
§ Mr. Flynn
My hon. Friend may have received a copy of a letter sent to me from the Bristol section of Friends of the Earth about biodiversity and the Severn estuary. It stated that unique forms of flora and fauna in the estuary were liable to be destroyed by developments in the bay. I have written twice to the author of the letter for a list of those unique flora and fauna, but I have yet to receive a reply. Perhaps my hon. Friend can list them.
§ Mr. Davies
It would be foolish of me to be tempted to comment on correspondence that I have not seen.
§ Mr. Davies
I am talking about biodiversity too.
Some time ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn) made a similar intervention to say that he had written to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to ask about its views on the barrage. He tempted me to defend the RSPB, but that is not my job or duty. On that occasion, we were discussing the number of existing SSSIs, the number that had been destroyed and the displacement of estuarine birds.
I accept that estuarine birds are not unique and I should be interested to find out which life forms in the estuary Friends of the Earth judge to be unique. I have not argued that the ecosystem in the estuary is unique, but it is rare and valuable and it will be damaged by the development. In a letter dated 18 December 1989, of which I have a copy, the RSPB put that point to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West. It stated:The fate of estuarine birds displaced is complex and not fully researched. Experts advising both Promoters and Petitioners against the Bill agree that a large proportion of those displaced by a barrage would not be able to 'fit in' elsewhere, or would displace other birds in turn. The availability of suitable habitat is finite; areas of international importance, such as the Severn estuary, of which the Taff/Ely is a part, are to be treasured accordingly. Loss of an important part would cause an overall net loss in the world population of species affected. The Promoters accept that some loss will have to be compensated for".I would not argue that the estuary is home to unique life forms, but the bay is an integral part of it. It is a valuable over-wintering area for highly protected bird species for which we have international responsibility. I do not know whether my case is supported by Friends of the Earth in 352 Bristol. If my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West is prepared to let me see the correspondence, I shall write to Friends of the Earth. I shall certainly ask that group for a list of the unique life forms that it believes exist in the estuary. I shall even send a copy of my speech, which I am sure will be read.
The RSPB is the primary voluntary organisation that has campaigned against the barrage. The House will be aware that it is the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe. It is highly respected and has about 1 million members, who base all their campaigning work on detailed, scientific, objective analysis.
The work conducted by the RSPB is a lesson to us all. We must acknowledge its views and it is important to put them on record. They are particularly relevant because we can then test how the development corporation could comply with the requirements of new clause 1. It has stated:The RSPB and other wildlife conservation bodies including the Glamorgan Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for Nature Conservation are opposed to the barrage proposal since it will permanently flood the intertidal lands that provide important feeding grounds for 5,000–8,000 wild birds which regularly use Cardiff Bay in winter. Cardiff bay is of high wildlife importance and has been notified by the Nature Conservancy Council"—of course, that was before it was disbanded by the Government when they tried to impose political control over science—as a Site of Special Scientific Interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In biological terms, the bay is an integral part of the wider Severn estuary, which is of international importance for shelduck, redshank, knot and dunlin and meets the criteria for protection under the European Community Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds and the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands.That case is put against the barrage.
I shall look briefly at the arguments again. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West has had some dispute with the RSPB because he argues, "I am not sure that it really matters, because the birds will go elsewhere." He has used the argument concerning Collister Pill, the area in his constituency or in that of his neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes). The argument in respect of Collister Pill is different because it was a different habitat and was not designated an SSSI.
The argument that it does not matter because the birds will go elsewhere is flawed, because all the science involved tells us that there is a finite and restricted habitat, that the birds cannot go elsewhere and that if they could go elsewhere, they would displace the species in that other area, resulting in a net loss.
As well as being scientifically incorrect, such an argument is politically irresponsible. It is a casual and dismissive attitude towards our responsibilities for conservation to claim that it does not matter because the birds will go elsewhere. It would be like telling the Japanese or Norwegians, "It does not matter if we go whaling," or telling the Brazilian or Equador Governments, "It does not matter if we destroy the tropical rain forests." Is it not equal to telling French hunters, "It does not matter if you shoot skylarks in their migratory passage"? It represents taking a casual attitude.
I find it amazing in 1992, not only having had the idea of biodiversity accepted by the Government but with the 353 increasingly accepted attitude about global responsibilities for our shared natural heritage, that there should be such a casual dismissal of our responsibilities for what I believe would be at best a dubious and transient benefit, so far unproved, to the economy of Cardiff.
§ Mr. Flynn
It is misleading for my hon. Friend to compare the estuary with the rain forest, where there are literally tens of thousands of unique species—in the Severn estuary there are none. As for the finite site available where the birds at Collister Pill migrated, that was a totally artificial, man-made site that did not exist previously. It was in the ash ponds of the Uskmouth power station.
A decision must be made about birds that are rare and under threat. Here we are dealing with birds that are under no threat whatever. They exist in their millions. A balanced and common-sense decision must be made, reconciling what is required to protect and preserve those birds and the great advantages available to the population of Cardiff as a result of the barrage. My hon. Friend is aware that provision, which has been much praised, is made in a later clause in connection with the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, East.
§ Mr. Davies
The latter point made by my hon. Friend is doubtful, but we can look into it when we debate the clause to which he referred. I concede that the circumstances at Collister Pill were different. My hon. Friend claims that making a parallel with the rain forest is not valid because the birds in question are not unique. In terms of the environment of north-west Europe, they are. They might not be unique to Cardiff bay or to the Severn estuary, but they are unique to the ecology of north-west Europe. Therefore, a comparison should be made not between Cardiff bay and the entire equatorial rain forest but between the ecosystem of north-west Europe and the ecosystem of the equatorial forest.
It is true to say that there are millions of unique species in the equatorial forest. By the same token, there are millions of unique species if the area of definition is the whole of the ecosystem of north-west Europe, and that should be the comparison. My hon. Friend is wrong, therefore, to say that the species in question are not under threat. They are. If he recognises that within the context of north-west Europe they are a declining species and are under threat, he must consider at what point we must call a halt.
My hon. Friend is a sincere and committed defender of the rain forest and agrees that no further destruction should take place there. I do not see how he can reconcile that with saying, "We shall not protect Cardiff bay because man needs it." Is he not aware of the rightness of the comparison? We must stop at some point. We must not let it go on, with further estuaries being destroyed one at a time. We must say, "Now is the time to stop because we have international responsibilities."
I have drawn my line and said that it should stop here. My hon. Friend may say that the line should be drawn somewhere else. I am entitled to ask where he would draw his line. Would it be somewhere after Cardiff bay, after Taff estuary, or after the Mersey, Morecambe bay or the Humber? At what point would he say stop? The point has arrived for me. We must stop here and care for our estuaries. I challenge my hon. Friend to say whether his line is after Cardiff bay, and then no further. He has a strong interest because a proposal for the Usk barrage is, 354 or would have been under other circumstances, coming forward. Would my hon. Friend have drawn the line there? I hope he will answer that question.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member may invite his hon. Friend to answer, but he is not in order in doing so.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) has been developing a speech to which we have listened with interest. Rather than challenging other hon. Members on certain issues, he should concentrate his remarks on the subject of new clause 1.
§ Mr. Davies
I was not challenging my hon. Friend, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I got the impression that he wished to intervene and I was politely offering to allow him to do so. I accept your ruling and return to the subject I was developing, which is the argument that the development does not matter because the birds will go elsewhere. I hope that, in terms of our international responsibilities, that issue has been adequately dealt with.
The next argument to be adduced is that 10 per cent. of the land area of Britain is covered by SSSIs. Cardiff bay estuary is an important part of that and new clause 1 would have recognised that, were it a meaningful provision. One view is that, because 10 per cent. of the land area is covered by SSSIs, it does not matter if we lose a bit here and there. My answer is again to ask where the line is to be drawn. If we are prepared to see one SSSI destroyed, shall we be prepared to see another destroyed?
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth feels strongly about the issue. I have questioned various people—including him when he was promoting the earlier legislation—the Welsh Office, the Government's advisers and the Department of the Environment because we can test the validity of new clause 1 against the evidence that is adduced in that respect. How many SSSIs are we prepared to see destroyed? Are we prepared to see partial destruction of them all or the complete destruction of some, or is there to be some arbitrary test which results in it being said, "We shall destroy this one but protect that one"? If we are to proceed on that basis, the Government must announce the parameters of that decision-making process.
What criteria will apply? Do they have in mind a super triple SI—a quadruple SI—that will be protected? At what point will they stop destroying triple SIs?
Wales has 843 triple SIs, of which Cardiff bay is one. In the last year for which figures are available, from April 1991 to March 1992, 45 of them were destroyed. That is disgraceful because those sites were selected on objective scientific criteria and approved as worthy of conservation. They have been destroyed and the Government have done nothing to protect them. The Government are now sending out a clear message that, by Act of Parliament, triple SIs can be destroyed in their entirety. What message is that to individuals who want to destroy triple SIs? How can the Government have any credibility in trying to enforce the protection of triple SIs when they have piloted through the House of Commons legislation that destroys a triple SI? I am sure that I shall receive no answer to that question.
355 The third case that is put is that, although there will be damage—that argument was put by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West—we should think of the people of Cardiff. All my hon. Friends who have spoken in this debate have made it clear that we want Cardiff to be developed and are concerned about its prosperity and that of our constituents. We are not opposed to development of Cardiff that will benefit the people of Cardiff. We argue that the barrage is unnecessary for that development. In any case, the development is highly speculative and we have been asked to accept the destruction of a triple SI. Although new clause 1 attempts to offer a palliative, the effect will be the destruction of a triple SI for a temporary benefit.
§ Mr. Rhodri Morgan (Cardiff, West)
This is not, strictly speaking, an answer to the earlier question put to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), but it is a kind of answer with an element of lateral thinking. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West asked what was unique about the flora and fauna of Cardiff bay. He did not get an answer because my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly had not seen the correspondence from Bristol Friends of the Earth. It is unique to have a triple SI in the middle of a large city of some 300,000 people, or so I believe.
§ Mr. Davies
I am sure that it is. My hon. Friend is a master of the art of lateral thinking and I must be careful to ensure that he does not distract me from our debate on new clause 1. He knows that I would welcome any alternative proposals for the development of Cardiff, such as a mini barrage that would have the double benefit of providing a waterscape and, at the same time, conserve for future generations the marvellous reserve that is unique within the bay. If we had a development corporation and a Government who were more imaginative and were not stuck in an early 1980s time warp, they would be prepared to accept that. But they will not and we must accept that.
The argument is that, although there will be damage, that does not matter because it will be outweighed by benefits. It is summed up by a letter that I received from the Minister's predecessor in the Welsh Office and the predecessor of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) when he was a Welsh Office Minister. In reply to my letter putting that point to him, he wrote to me on 16 October 1989, sayingIn relation to the Cardiff Bay Barrage, the environmental impact associated with the Barrage has been considered at length. In 1986 the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology undertook a study of the effect of the Barrage on over-wintering shorebirds. Further environmental studies, including the feasibility of providing alternative feeding grounds, have been commissioned by Cardiff Bay Development Corporation and South Glamorgan County Council. The results of all these studies have been brought together in an independent and detailed Environmental Impact Assessment carried out by Liverpool University's Environmental Advisory Unit in line with the recommendations of the Pearce report … The environmental costs have therefore been measured in detail, and weighed against the paramount importance of realising the economic, recreational and other benefits that can be expected to arise from the Barrage. The Government has concluded that in this case the economic benefits heavily outweigh the identified environmental and other costs.So we have an admission and an acceptance that there will be environmental damage, but all the other benefits are highly speculative. Later this evening we shall debate water quality. The Select Committee that examined the 356 matter when it was a private Bill concluded that the economic benefit was dubious, to say the least. We now know that, with the collapse of the property market, there is little prospect of it being of economic benefit to the people of Cardiff, yet we are being asked to accept environmental destruction for dubious and transient economic benefit. I cannot accept that.
Finally, it is argued that alternative environments will be provided. Were that not funny, it would make me cry. In previous debates we were told that alternative feeding grounds would be provided. I wonder whether my hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe, who was present for the previous debates, will remember the fact that we were told that a lagoon would provide a panacea. We would then not need new clause 1 because the lagoon would provide the answer to all our problems.
§ Dr. Kim Howells (Pontypridd)
Is my hon. Friend referring to the lagoon that was supposed to have a magic barge on it, which would clear out everything from algae to wooden doors that came down the River Taff?
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend refers to the lagoon behind the barrage, which will destroy the natural environment. I am talking about the lagoon that will be provided some miles to the east of the lagoon at Wentloog. That lagoon was supposed to provide the solution to the environmental damage. When this was a private Bill, we were told with great authority by everyone concerned—my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth, the Minister and the development corporation—that that was the answer and that we need not worry about environmental damage because the lagoon would solve the problems.
That lagoon was considered by the Select Committee examining the Bill and its findings have given rise to these amendments. The Chairman of the Select Committee made the following stunning argument:Finally, I come to the question of the proposed lagoon at Wentloog. I do not think it will come as any great surprise to those who have been following the progress of this Committee's inquiries to know that we take a very unfavourable view of that proposal".That was the earlier version of the all-singing, all-dancing answer to all the problems. He continued:But briefly, it is suggested that the lagoon should be built at a cost which in reality is likely to exceed £7 million capital cost and cost approximately £4–500,000 per annum in running costs, that these funds should be provided from public money and provided, therefore, by the taxpayer. The result of doing so would be to build a small artificial tidal mudflat at Wentloog".
§ Mr. Davies
I know that my hon. Friend is excited, but perhaps he could restrain himself. I am coming to the end of the Chairman's remarks—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will address new clause 1 in which there is no mention of a lagoon. We are discussing the barrage, and I am listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Davies
I am sure that you are, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The new clause is a Government attempt to offset the environmental damage caused by the barrage. I doubt the wisdom and the efficacy of that proposal and I am attempting to compare the Government's previous attitude to show that their case is built on shaky 357 foundations. Until early this year, their case was based on the lagoon and not new clause 1. The Select Committee Chairman said:The result of doing so would be to build a small artificial tidal mudflat at Wentloog. The purpose of this exercise, we have been told, is to provide an alternative home for some of the birds which have been displaced from the mudflats of Cardiff Bay following the building of the barrage.It is said that new clause 1 is concerned about flora and fauna. The Chairman continues:We heard evidence that the winter count of dunlin is 2,891 in the Bay and of redshank 486.If new clause 1 is accepted, those two species will have to be considered by the development corporation. The Chairman went on:These are the two main species of birds which are considered to be under threat from the construction of the barrage. We were further told that the most optimistic forecast was that approximately one quarter of these birds might use the habitat at Wentloog. The proposal, therefore, is that some £10,000 per bird in capital terms, put crudely, and £600 per annum in running cost terms should be spent on these birds.My hon. Friend the Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe and I have a great love for birds, but even we would share the scepticism of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West if we were asked to fork out £10,000 per bird in capital costs and £600 per annum in running costs. It does not cost as much to organise a pheasant shoot, and that gives people the perverted pleasure of killing the birds at the end of the year. The Chairman continued:This would appear to be sufficiently ludicrous by itself, but worse information was to come. Firstly, we were told that the lagoon as proposed was far too small to be of any practical use. Secondly, we were told that there was absolutely no guarantee that any of the threatened birds would use it at all, although the likelihood was that some would. As I say, the most optimistic count was that a quarter of the population of birds currently in Cardiff would use it. Thirdly, we were told that there were potential problems from gulls, leaching from the nearby dumps and health hazards from a combination of dumps and gulls might render the lagoon wholly useless.That was the Government's solution less than 12 months ago, but now we are being asked to accept new clause 1 as the panacea for environmental damage. That is why I am a little suspicious about the wisdom of the Welsh Office in these matters.
There are widespread objections to what is being done and to the suggestion that somehow the environmental damage is acceptable if new clause 1 is passed. A leader in The Guardian referred to the EC wild birds directive which, I believe, gives rise to new clause 1. If the Minister wishes to tell me that I am wrong, I shall give way to him. The leader is a trenchant criticism of the Government and I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, read The Guardian and The Daily Telegraphbecause you use a broad brush and form your own opinion. On 13 October, The Guardian said:Not many people are going to defend the crow. Most tears over Britain's refusal to conform with a 1979 EC directive providing protection to crows may be tears of anger, not sorrow. Here surely is a supreme example of Brussels at its most absurd: defending a pest which feeds off the songbirds that provide such delight! Well, not quite. The matter is more complicated than Europhobes would have you believe. There are two separate issues wending their way to the European Court: the first protecting species, the second protecting habitat.Those issues are relevant to all the amendments. The leader goes on:The first, and the more dubious, is the blanket protection of the 1979 directive which was breached by the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. Under this Act, British landlords are 358 free to grant permission to sportsmen to shoot crows—and magpies, rooks, jays, woodpigeons, sparrows and starling—all the year round. The absurdity of a blanket ban should not be allowed to obscure the importance of a second issue: Britain's refusal to provide enough special protection areas for birds. This is not just a breach of EC law, but of the International Convention on Wetlands ratified by the UK Government in 1976.That charge is made time and again against the Government and they have not attempted to answer it.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I want to set the record straight because the Government are not doing so. The problem about the protection of birds such as crows arose from the faulty application of British law in putting the EC directive into operation. In July, before the House rose for the summer recess, the Government undertook in Committee to put that matter right. I do not want the House to think that that defect still exists. That will enable us to rest easily—if we get to sleep tonight.
§ Mr. Davies
I am sure that we have every chance of getting a good night's sleep. All that the Government have to do is withdraw the Bill.
My hon. Friend's question is slightly outside the terms of reference of the new clause. The decision that he debated in Committee is subject to challenge because in giving a blanket licence the Government contravene the provisions of the birds directive. My hon. Friend nods in agreement. The relevance of the new clause is not to shooting corbins but to protecting habitat. The Guardian leader continued:For those people who think environmental issues should be left to national governments, the protection of bird life provides some salutary lessons. Under the E.C. Wild Birds directive, the UK was required to set aside special protection areas by 1981.That is precisely what we are talking about. The leader goes on:'An irreducible minimum' list of 222 sites was identified by the Nature Conservancy Council. Eleven years on only 62 sites have been designated. So much for last week's claim by Michael Howard that Britain was always at a disadvantage `because we observe community laws while others flout them'. This is not just a question of protecting British birdlife. Many of the wetland sites are important resting, roosting and feeding places for migrating birds. The lesson could not be clearer: environmental needs do not stop at national boundaries. Just as industrial waste poured into a river poisons all fish and land further downstream, so one nation's refusal to provide sufficient special protection areas for birds can affect birdlife hundreds of miles away. Far from supporting calls for more subsidiarity, the environment reinforces the need for extra territorial policing. But for Brussels, the Dirty Old Man of Europe would have refused to clean up its drinking water or reduce its sewage disposals in the sea. It was Mrs. Thatcher who declared: 'No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we can have is a life tenancy—with a full repairing lease'.What the Government are now offering us is a substandard provision, in new clause 1, to meet these international obligations. Frankly, that is not good enough and nor are the other amendments.
§ 6 pm
§ Mr. Davies
I am in a quandary, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to make some progress as the meat of what I have to say is yet to come, but my hon. Friend wishes to intervene. I shall give way to him.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I realise that he is anxious to push ahead so that we can get home at a reasonable time.
Given the stress that my hon. Friend has laid on the habitat directive and the special protection areas, which are vital and a critical part of new clause 1, it should be said that the EEC directive was not imposed on us by Brussels. It was something that the British Government undertook to do. They have failed to do it and that has led to the crisis over the Bill.
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend makes a telling point on which there is no need to elaborate.
Many other people take this critical view of new clause 1. I am sure that you will be fascinated, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by a recent study produced by the RSPB called "Important Bird Areas in the United Kingdom including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man". I shall quote just two sentences from the introduction:In this country, with its very rich wild bird heritage, the threats to coastal, wetland and migratory bird habitats are particularly severe. Drainage, pollution, disturbance and fishing pressure have already caused serious problems and I hope that the timely publication of this important book will help to ensure that the most valuable bird areas in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are given the effective and permanent protection that they urgently need.That clear message comes in the foreword by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, signed "Philip". If the Minister is not prepared to accept the views of other bodies, perhaps he will give at least some passing consideration to that view.
The final authority that I shall quote on this matter is the Select Committee on the Environment, which looked at the problem of our coastline and our important estuaries and the threat of damage from developments. These are the conclusions of the Select Committee:Coastal zone protection and planning cannot be reviewed in isolation; they are inextricably linked to the administration and management of the many activities and uses of the coastal zone.This is the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West and I were discussing earlier. We as a Parliament, as a society, as part of the Government of the day must make a judgment about how we use this precious environmental resource.
We cannot go on making piecemeal judgments. We cannot go on saying that this or that development can go ahead, and at some time or other in the future call a halt. We know that we shall have to take a coherent view to protect our environment and discharge our international responsibilities. It is time that we accepted the view of the Environment Select Committee and decided that now is the time for this coherent view.
§ Mr. Davies
My hon. Friend is pressing me to give way on this matter, but you will be delighted to hear, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am coming to my conclusion.
§ Mr. Rogers
Before my hon. Friend does so, I hope that he will deal with the issues that arise from the movement of fish through the barrage and up the rivers. The National Rivers Authority, which can hardly be described as a body dominated by Labour supporters, as Lord Crickhowell, its chairman, was the Secretary of State for Wales who initially supported and developed the Bill when it was a private Bill, is called "The guardian of the water environment". In a pamphlet, it says:The NRA takes the view that the barrage and the impoundment are likely to obstruct or delay salmonid migration and some mortality resulting from algal blooms or increasing predation may also occur.The promoters said that they would implement a scheme that would partly simulate the fish traps and barriers that would be involved in the barrage. Has this project been carried out? Have these tests been done? If so, what are the results?
§ Mr. Davies
I would happily discuss that, but I think that the subject will arise in a later debate.
§ Mr. Davies
I know that, but I am trying to follow strictly the terms of new clause 1. I have been referring to the Government's international responsibilities and demonstrating how the provisions of new clause I will fail to meet those obligations. I am a strong supporter of the case that we must ensure that migratory fish have a free and uninhibited passage. However, if my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) wishes to pursue that matter in this debate, he will have to use his own ingenuity and make his own speech. If he wishes me to refer to the matter in a later debate, I shall do so happily.
There is now a growing consensus among all who are concerned about the conservation of our wildlife habitat and our environment. There is a growing realisation that we have to take a coherent, long-term strategic view. We are dealing with a washed-up relic of an idea from the last decade that has outlived its usefulness. New clause 1 does not mitigate those damages. The Select Committee also said that, in evidence:Government officials stressed repeatedly to us that existing arrangements for coast protection and sea defence were all working 'extremely well'. The vast majority of witnesses in their submissions to this inquiry, however, takes a rather different view.In other words, everyone who took the trouble to come along told the Select Committee that the policy was not working. The Committee said:From the evidence presented to us, we firmly believe that coastal protection"—that is not covered by new clause 1, but the next two subjects are—planning and management in the United Kingdom suffer from centuries of unco-ordinated decisions and actions at both the national and local levels. We found that there are inadequacies in legislation, anomalies in the planning system, a lack of central guidance, and overlapping and conflicting policies and responsibilities (and in some cases a lack of action) among a host of bodies, with poor co-ordination between them.That is the view of the Select Committee.
If there is anything that demonstrates more clearly the absence of any strategy on the part of the Government, it is the Bill. The enactment of the Bill would destroy a priceless part of our national heritage for an economic benefit that can be described only as tenuous. The cost to public funds would be enormous. There would be 361 considerable and continuing uncertainty. All that the Government can offer us in terms of the environment is the commitment that the development corporation must have regard to flora and fauna. The corporation will have to consult the Government's scientific advisers. But we know that those advisers have given the most important piece of evidence that they could ever have produced. They have presented the most important advice that they could ever have brought forward.
The Nature Conservancy Council said, "No, don't do it." The Government then intervened politically and tried to sabotage the NCC's scientific independence and make it subject to political control. They created a quango, the Countryside Commission for Wales. Even then, the scientific evidence was so overwhelming that even the commission could conclude only that the proposals were fundamentally flawed and should be withdrawn. The new clause does nothing to offset my concerns and those of my hon. Friends about the environmental dangers.
§ Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)
I shall be brief, but I feel that I should comment on the new clause and the amendments because the entire area of the development corporation, the inland lake and the communities that live around it lie within my constituency.
We all respect the interest of my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) in these matters and the strength of the views that he holds, which is perhaps reflected in no small way by the length of his contribution this evening. Sadly, I fear that he has the Bill out of proportion. That is my view, but I appreciate that he has his own. There is an assumption of environmental damage underlying his contribution, but there is an assumption underlying the views of many others, especially those of Members who are local in terms of the Bill, of environmental improvement. Those of us who have taken a strong interest over the years in environmental issues and have fought for them, and who believe that there is a need for a coherent strategic view, are to be found among the Bill's supporters as well as among its opponents.
My hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly referred rightly to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as the main organisation campaigning against the barrage. Personally, I am sad that it has taken that stance. I have great respect for the society and I believe that it was misled into entering the campaign. Initially it opposed the barrage because this was the first proposal to come forward which would affect an estuary in this way, and not because it had a good case. It felt obliged to become involved, I believe, because it saw a knock-on effect. It was mistaken both in terms of tactics and principle.
Much has been made of the importance of the bay to wildlife. In my view, its importance has been overstated. For example, the bay was not shown on the RSPB's centenary map as an area of major importance. It seems that it is far from being of the importance suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly.
I hope that the debate will continue in a way that is much more in sympathy with the positive contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), who sought to improve the Bill and not to attack it. As I have said, the whole of the development corporation area is in my constituency. I welcome the efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley, the shadow Secretary of State for Wales, and her colleagues in presenting amendments to improve the Bill. 362 They have sought to set out ways of triggering improvements in what the measure will do. The entire purpose of the Bill is to create a better environment, jobs and homes for my constituents.
I am sure that my colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench—I have great confidence in my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Mr. Murphy), for example—will bear in mind that Cardiff bay is a city centre area. My constituents have experienced the dirt and noise of heavy industry over generations, followed by the dereliction and unemployment that they are now suffering. It is those conditions that the Bill sets out to alleviate.
§ Mr. Jon Owen Jones
I thank my hon. Friend for giving way. I hope that he will acknowledge that a small part of Cardiff bay falls within my constituency.
§ Mr. Michael
Indeed, and I welcome the constructive way in which my hon. Friend has approached and regarded the development. There will be a knock-on effect on other areas, but there will be benefits for the wider area of Cardiff and south Wales to be gained by the building of the barrage.
I support the way in which my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley spoke to amendments tabled by the Opposition Front Bench. The amendments have been designed to improve the Bill so that the environment and the future can be improved for my constituents and many others in the region while proper consideration is given to flora and fauna. I hope that the Minister will respond positively to them.
§ Mr. Morley
I am pleased to take up the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael). I have great respect for the sincerity of his concern for the environment. We have discussed these issues many times and I know that he will agree that there is an honest debate about the way forward while meeting environmental objectives. I am sure that he will accept that there are national implications stemming from the Cardiff bay project, and it is those implications which have caused me to contribute to the debate.
The way in which sites of special scientific interest are being destroyed in terms of the Bill has an implication for the rest of the country. The Bill sets precedents which are of concern to conservation organisations throughout the country. It will have consequences also for the United Kingdom's reputation within the European Community. In that context, I feel that the new clause is a cynical bit of window dressing when it comes to concern for the environment. It is rather like running a motorway through a nature reserve and then offering to put up a bird table at a service station and a nest box on a garage support post. It seems that there is an attempt to claw back an important site after its destruction and to gain some sort of credibility. It is not good enough.
I do not want to rehearse all the arguments put by my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies), who went into the issue in great detail. I merely say that I concur with his arguments. I shall make only a couple of brief points to reinforce the argument about the inadequacy of the new clause. It is not true—this has been inferred, but perhaps not deliberately—that Cardiff bay is not important in wildlife terms. I have a recent report by the World Wide Fund for Nature which states that the 363 Government's study—it was carried out by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, which is a well respected organisation—confirms that Cardiff bay is important in its own right as a feeding area for birds which are usually distributed throughout the southern estuary and that it holds populations of curlew and redshank exceeding 1 per cent. of the north-west European total. Such figures are recognised as being of national and international importance. They mean that the area qualifies for special protection under the Ramsar agreement and as a special protection area. When these issues arise, there must be trust in the Government and credibility for their position.
I am concerned that the Government are on the verge of being taken to the European Court because of their failure to designate special protection areas on estuaries in line with European directives. We are discussing an area which meets recognised national and international wildlife standards; yet it is to be destroyed. The question is whether that destruction will bring any tangible gains to the people of Cardiff. That is the point which gives rise to honest debate between those who oppose the barrage and those who support it. There will be opportunities later to debate that issue.
It is not good enough that new clause 1 should take into account the importance of wildlife only after the barrage has been built. A cosmetic lagoon, with highly polluted water, will have no importance for wildlife. An important feeding ground will be lost. Cardiff bay is special and important because it is an intertidal zone supporting populations of waders and providing an important wintering ground for wildfowl. If that area is flooded to make a lagoon, the depth of water will prevent it from being a feeding ground. Nor will an alternative range of species be attracted.
The main advantage of such a barrage would probably be to wildfowl, but even they will have nothing to feed on. Some wintering wildfowl might shelter there temporarily, or the odd swan or mallard might be attracted which would respond to people throwing bread, but they would be insignificant and of little value to nature. With the best will in the world, not a great deal can be done with a deep-water, polluted lagoon to make it attractive to wildlife. Therefore, nothing is altered by suggesting that special attention will be given to Cardiff bay following its destruction behind a lagoon.
Hon. Members have pointed out that the present habitat is polluted, dirty, smelly and not altogether pleasant. I would not dispute some of that, although I believe that the intertidal zone is far more attractive than any artificial cosmetic lagoon would be. However, the cost savings that would result from not progressing with a barrage could be directed towards cleaning up the bay, making it more attractive and accessible.
It has been pointed out that the bay is an area of special scientific interest, surrounded by 300,000 people. This is a wonderful opportunity for making that natural feature an important and attractive part of any future development. I have no criticisms or qualms about the progress of the development corporation in attracting new industry, cleaning up the area, creating new jobs and building new 364 homes. However, I would question whether the destruction of this important intertidal zone area is necessary to that investment and development.
I would argue that directing some of those funds towards cleaning up the area and making it more accessible and towards an interpretation centre, towards the kind of schemes that groups such as the RSPB have put forward in compromise proposals, would enhance and protect the area which is of national and international importance.
We have heard the arguments about the wetlands site and whether that will go ahead. I thought that it was an intriguing idea.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
It is worth putting on the record that the Select Committee deleted the wetlands provisions from the Bill and now it is suggested that an alternative site will be examined.
§ Mr. Morley
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That was originally regarded as a kingpin in the original proposal and as compensation for the destruction of the estuary. I shall not go over the point made by my hon. Friend. He clearly undermined that argument and showed that the alternative proposals would not have compensated for the destruction of Cardiff bay. They would have been extremely expensive and involved a technology and technique that is virtually untried. As I say, I am interested in such experiments, but this one would be expensive with no guarantee of success and would be no real compensation for the destruction of the bay.
It comes down to whether the destruction of a recognised site of special scientific interest is acceptable and whether the Bill will damage the Government's already severely dented credibility in Europe. The Government are prepared to destroy the site but they would then have to sit in the Council of Ministers and argue within the European Court against the destruction of similar sites by other countries. This country is not alone. Wetlands in Greece and the Cota Donna in Spain are under threat. How can we criticise other member states in the EC when they can turn round and say, "What right have you to criticise us when you are destroying your own designated sites of special scientific interest? You, too, are ignoring EC rules. You are not designating areas which require special protection. You are ignoring the Ramsar convention."? We would have no credibility if we did that and there is no justification for the Bill.
It is a question of balance. It is argued that the barrage is needed in the overall scheme of things and I accept that there is an argument there which has to be met. But the Government should consider carefully the huge expense of the barrage and the implications of destroying one of their own designated sites of special scientific interest. They should listen carefully to their advisers, both statutory and non-statutory bodies, who are unanimous in their opposition to the scheme. Then they should think carefully about whether they are missing an opportunity to utilise a natural feature in a way which will benefit not only wildlife but also the people of Cardiff, both now and in future generations.
I accept that some people do not consider the present intertidal zone to be attractive, but I do and it may well be that in future many more people will share my view. Therefore, why should we destroy it? Let us pursue what is good and beneficial in the Bill and make the intertidal 365 zone an important conservation feature which will not only ensure that the Government honour their international obligations but also enhance an area in Wales for the good of all concerned.
§ Mr. Morgan
As one of the Members most affected by the Bill, I want to make some additional points. My constituency has a long link with the proposed inland bay, with some 2.5 miles of the River Ely in my constituency fronting the top end of the inland bay to its western extremity and, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones), the other finger pointing northwards out of the main part of the lake towards Blackweir, dividing his constituency from mine in the centre of Cardiff. Therefore, this part of the Bill and the management of the inland bay are of enormous concern to my constituents.
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak today. I thought that I had missed the opportunity earlier when I slipped out briefly to have a cup of tea. When my name went up on the annunciator I thought that I had missed my own speech. However, it was a mistake and it should have been my hon. Friend the Member fo Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley). I was able to boast to others in the Tea Room that I was performing the remarkable feat of having a cup of tea there and making a speech in the Chamber at the same time. Eventually, I realised that I would not miss my speech and that I would have the opportunity of putting it on the record in Hansard and having a cup of tea at the same time, for which I am grateful as I have something of a frog in my throat tonight.
There are 34 new clauses or amendments in the group under consideration. That is reminiscent of a Third Reading, except that several aspects have not been touched upon—including how the bay is to be managed other than in respect of flora and fauna, which have received all the attention so far.
I refer specifically to pleasure craft and water sports, and to the obligations that the Bill places on the developers as to the lake's future use. If it does not provide an amenity for the local population, it is not worth having.
The Government argue that the lake will provide facilities for pleasure craft, water sports, and other open air activities. Amendments Nos. 61 and 62 are aimed at strengthening the guarantee given to the population of Cardiff and the eastern end of the Vale of Glamorgan that they will be able to enjoy the use of dinghies, yachts, and other craft to no lesser extent than they do now.
If the bay is locked off from the Bristol channel to create more of a marina environment, rather than one that can be used for weekend fun canoeing and rowing—as it is now, on a substantial scale, by members of local clubs—there will be a loss of amenity. We want the Government to tie down the development corporation to ensure that people of modest means continue to enjoy the same access to water sport facilities that they do now—and allegedly they are to be the beneficiaries of the cost of the barrage and of establishing the development corporation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) will agree that sailing is not primarily a rich person's pastime in our constituencies. Many members of local clubs are of modest means. Some 366 club officers have made forceful representations to me about the importance of maintaining the present level of charges.
§ Mr. Michael
My hon. Friend rightly said that I share his concern for protecting the interests of boat users. I agree with him entirely that the memberships of local sailing clubs represent a good cross-section, and that they are not just rich men's associations. I understand that those clubs have pursued positive discussions and have reached an agreement that will offer protection in respect of fees and access. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that that is the case, and that the final agreement with the two clubs in question will be signed, sealed and delivered in the near future.
§ Mr. Morgan
We are not always advised to offer Ministers an opportunity to intervene, but perhaps the Minister will confirm later my hon. Friend's observations.
Although the clubs, as corporate bodies, have conducted lengthy negotiations with the developers over the past four or five years in respect of alternative facilities, there remains concern about access and the cost of using water craft when the barrage has been built.
Sailing small boats will be difficult. Unless a person wins the football pools, a dinghy is very often the first water craft that he owns. I understand that the sailing of small dinghies will not be permitted, on the ground that there will be an excessive risk of such craft capsizing. Dinghy sailing is defined by Cardiff city council and Vale of Glamorgan borough council environmental health officers as a water contact sport.
The size of the lock and the strength of the whirlpool effect that it will create also present a problem. Small dinghies may therefore be liable to capsize within the lock, but I will return to that aspect when speaking to clauses 31 and 55. Sailing small dinghies alongside larger craft will also be dangerous because of the water pressures that will be created within the lock.
Avoiding the yuppification of Cardiff bay concerns right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House. One does not want to alienate the local population by suggesting that they will be forced or priced out by Cardiff bay being transformed into a marina-like environment, suitable only for use by those having the income levels which existed in south-east England when it was a byword for regional prosperity. That is no longer the case, but it was true when the barrage was first conceived.
The suspicion that marina time will shortly arrive must be dispelled if the loyalty and interest of the local population is to be maintained. That is particularly true when one considers the extent to which the development corporation has used jolly pictures of boats, motor boats and yachts bobbing up and down on Cardiff bay in its advertising and publicity campaigns. It would indeed turn out to have been a cruel deception were some of the people who had been depicted—in photographs or artists' impressions—in publicity for Cardiff bay to find that they could not afford its amenities in the event of the barrage being built.
We would fail in our duty if we did not attempt to strengthen the existing provision by our amendments. I feel that that should be placed on record, because when 34 amendments and new clauses are grouped together it is easy to read some to the exclusion of others.
367 The question of charges, and how they will affect people of modest means, is dealt with in this group, and I consider it very important. I do not think that enough attention has been given to the issue of pleasure craft; although some of the Government amendments deal with it, they do not reinforce people's rights in the way that Opposition Members consider necessary because of their natural interest in what is, in the broadest sense, their constituency. I am talking about the kind of people who tend to vote Labour: it is not necessary to have a PhD in sociology to work that out.
Let me turn to some of the details of a subject that has, admittedly, been given a fair old going over already. Do the Government know whether their proposals are proof against challenge in terms of the Leybucht bay judgment, and has that anything to do with the way in which they have framed new clause I and other proposals for change? New clause 1 is clearly part of a deal made by the Government with the Countryside Council for Wales to demonstrate that they were not environmental philistines—that they were "green", and that they had not ignored the importance ofdeveloping and conserving flora and faunain the management of the inland bay. There may be some weasel words in that—or rat words perhaps: I am not sure which fauna the Government mean.
The handshake agreement reached with the Countryside Council for Wales has aroused considerable suspicion about the way in which the deal was done simply because the council is not a body of long standing. Any deal done with it will require us to exercise our duty of scrutiny, given that one of its two predecessor bodies—the Nature Conservancy Council of Great Britain—took a different view of the barrage proposal. We must ask what pressures were brought to bear on the Countryside Council for Wales, and why it agreed to what amounts to a very mild understanding with the Secretary of State for Wales to the effect that the council has a right to be consulted, as provided in new clause 1(2), and that the development corporation is obliged tohave regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna.We have heard of two possibilities. One is that the Countryside Council for Wales is no longer legally able to oppose a Bill in the name of the Secretary of State, because of its structure as a quango responsible to him—even if, professionally and scientifically, it takes the same view as that previously taken by the Nature Conservancy Council, namely that the barrage should be opposed. Welsh Office lawyers may have pressurised the council, advising it that it simply has not the right to express outright public opposition by petitioning Parliament.
There is another, slightly less cynical view. The Countryside Council for Wales is a new body whose chairman was directly appointed by the Secretary of State: he is pretty pleased about his appointment, because it is nice to be in a quango. Such a person will tend to visit the Welsh Office fairly frequently to arrange his budget, and his inclination will be not to oppose schemes to which the Secretary of State may have given high priority, even if they have considerable egg-on-face potential in the event of anything going wrong. It is suggested that considerable pressure may have been imposed on the incoming 368 chairman not to petition against the barrage proposal, as the Nature Conservancy Council petitioned against the private Bill.
We do not know the truth—it is impossible to repeat laboratory experiments in real life—but the new clause does look like some sort of admission that, in return for not petitioning against the Bill, the Countryside Council for Wales insisted on a right to be consulted. It is rather sad that a cosy club of quango chairmen should exist in Wales—and almost all of them are men, given the structure of society under the present Government. Let us suppose that the chairman of the Cardiff Bay development corporation rings up the chairman of the Countryside Council for Wales, and says, "You will not be opposing the Cardiff bay barrage proposal, will you? You will not do the same as your blasted nuisance of a predecessor, the Nature Conservancy Council." A good deal of persuasion will be possible, because such people will keep bumping into each other at dinners, Welsh Office budget-setting sessions and similar functions and get-togethers.
It is rather unfortunate that the rejigging of the arrangements for scientific advice on nature conservation matters has dissipated the spirit of scientific independence for which the NCC was famous. The body has been broken up into English, Scottish and Welsh sections, and the merger between the Scottish and Welsh parts and the Countryside Commission has enabled the Secretary of State to appoint people who will naturally feel a debt of gratitude and loyalty to him. We are distinctly worried about that. We cannot rely on the NCC; we may or may not be able to rely on forces further afield.
Let me use non-subsidiarity language for a moment. It certainly looks as though there is a prima facie case for suggesting that the barrage proposal at least contradicts the spirit of the Leybucht bay judgment in the European Court of Justice. The Government never give a direct answer about that, but we know that they were terribly worked up about that judgment. They sent a flock of lawyers winging their way to Luxembourg—rather like a flock of overwintering wading birds—to listen to the three different stages of the judgment, and they do not take such action for nothing. They took it then because they were keen to find out exactly what the judgment would be.
The judgment stated a principle: if there is a conflict between economic development and nature conservation, the Government must give priority to nature conservation. Clearly, that principle is extremely damaging to the barrage proposal. We do not believe that new clause 1 meets the objections which might be made if the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds found it necessary some time next year—subject to the way in which the remaining parliamentary proceedings go—to challenge the validity of the proposal in the light of the area's previous designation as a site of special scientific interest. That designation has now been abrogated by the Government.
We do not think that new clause 1 goes far enough by merely offering a weak duty of consultation, and of developing and conserving flora and fauna. It attempts to meet the obligation to mitigate loss, but does it mitigate loss in a way that comes within a million miles of meeting the clear provisions of the Leybucht bay judgment? The judgment states that if a choice has to be made between the economic objectives that the Government or a local authority may have and their nature conservation 369 obligations, the nature conservation objectives, not the economic development objectives, must be given priority. The Government will therefore be faced with great difficulties next year, and their new clause 1 and their other amendments will not save them.
Our amendment No. 93 and a few of the other amendments point the way towards much stronger provisions. They would provide for an improved and independent version of the environmental impact assessment. We have attempted to do that, though perhaps not very effectively, in amendments Nos. 22 and 23 which have not so far played a major role in our deliberations. Environmental impact assessments are, we believe, very important. However, the existing ones are sloppy and do not abide by the spirit of the environmental impact assessment directive. It is all too easy for the promoters to control the content of environmental impact assessments. This proposal has not benefited from an independent environmental impact assessment.
I intend to refer to what was wrong with the previous environmental impact assessment. Liverpool university carried out its environmental impact assessment without consulting the statutory bodies at any point. It did not consult the National Rivers Authority. It did not consult Cardiff city council's environmental health department, or that of the Vale of Glamorgan borough council. It merely read other consultants' reports which had been produced for the Cardiff bay development corporation. The omissions from that assessment were bizarre. It had no truck with the two statutory bodies which would have responsibility for the environment if the proposal were to go through. The two statutory bodies were not asked what they thought of the proposal.
The National Rivers Authority's assessment, which was available to us in Committee, is a damning document in that it states clearly what the NRA thinks of the proposal. Had the environmental impact assessment team from Liverpool university been allowed to do its job properly by the Cardiff bay development corporation, it would have produced a very interesting report. However, the team was not allowed to speak to the NRA. Another assessment ought to be made. We should then have greater respect for the report and the development corporation and feel that the corporation had allowed the consultants to speak freely to those with expert opinions on whether or not the barrage should be constructed. Instead of that, we feel that there was a cosy club arrangement. The Government and the development corporation tend to rely on that arrangement, for fear of the truth coming out if people were allowed to get at it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) made some excellent points. We are dealing in this group of amendments with the flora and fauna arguments and with how management could be tightened up. We are also dealing with whether the Cardiff bay development corporation can meet the objectives that all of us have the right to expect in 1992. After the Rio summit, we feel that the human race should try to live in harmony with the biosphere. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves whether it can be claimed that the barrage would result in the human race living in harmony with the biosphere.
The Government love going to summit meetings. They love to lecture the lesser breeds without the law who are doing terrible damage to the environment. However, they cannot do that with much conviction if they do not abide by a coherent set of principles in their own back yard. The 370 Government's attitude to the barrage provides a test case. It shows whether they are really interested in achieving a balance between the economic development objectives that we all share and the environmental objectives that we also share. However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
This proposal affects the environment, a point to which I referred in an intervention during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly. Cardiff bay is a unique environment. The rise and fall of the tide provide what are known as the kidneys of the eco-system. Cardiff bay has the third highest or, as some people say, the second highest tidal rise and fall in the world. It reaches a site of special scientific interest. It penetrates almost into the centre of a city with a population of 300,000. Areas in the Canadian arctic, with huge areas of mudflats and salt marshes, as in Cardiff, also experience this huge tidal range, but they do not have a big city environment as well.
New clause 1 provides that the development corporation should consult the Countryside Council for Wales and seek its views on ways in which the bay can be managed to develop and conserve its flora and fauna. The present flora and fauna constitute a unique eco-system, so how can the development corporation carry out that obligation after the barrage has been built without immediately breaching the terms of new clause 1? New clause 1 is almost a nonsense. The development corporation would destroy a unique eco-system, put some pretty ducks on the lake afterwards and then claim that it has conservation very much in mind.
The development corporation intends to buy off environmental opposition to the barrage proposal by imposing the obligations that are to be found in new clause 1, but that will fool nobody. It will fool neither the Opposition, nor the people outside, nor the environmental lobby. They will not be fooled by the weak-kneed imprint of the Countryside Council for Wales in subsection (2) of new clause 1. New clause 1 does nothing, apart from providing a sop to the Countryside Council for Wales so that it can feel that its conscience has been salved as a result of withdrawing its opposition to the barrage proposal, even though its predecessor body, the Nature Conservancy Council, opposed it. The NCC enjoyed much greater scientific independence. Its chief executive was not chosen by the Secretary of State for Wales. Its funding came from another source. It had a long tradition of complete independence from the Government. That is why the NCC was shot down in flames.
What does new clause 1 mean? The point about the development and conservation of the flora and fauna poses serious problems. If the Cardiff bay barrage were to lock off the estuary from the open sea and produce a freshwater lake, which would be highly eutrophic, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central said earlier, there would be an exceptionally rich although not necessarily desirable set of flora and fauna.
One can put flora and fauna into three separate categories. One can say, "Would not it be awful if there were no flora and fauna in Cardiff bay post-barrage?" My hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly referred to a desert, although I do not think that he meant literally a desert, with no flora or fauna. One can speak of "undesirable" flora and fauna. The area might become a breeding ground for huge quantities of midges. The estimate is that 11 billion midges will breed in the rich muds of the estuary which will cause something of a plague 371 in the summer months, as happens in amenity lakes in Scandinavia and in America. It is difficult to control midge populations in shallow, muddy amenity lakes.
The preservation of such flora and fauna would comply with the new clause. Is that what we want? Almost certainly not. Many of the property developers, especially residential property developers, who may be thinking of building around Cardiff bay will want many guarantees that there will not be too many of such flora and fauna. However, the preservation of such flora and fauna would comply with the new clause, which is why we have doubts about whether it makes any sense.
Other hon. Members have referred to the question of algal blooms. They are a life form of a very low order. They are flora, but they are hardly desirable. As part of the area is in my constituency, I pay a lot of attention to the flora and fauna of the present flow of the rivers, which will be converted to an inland bay or lake if the barrage is ever built. One notices how critical the balance is between the desirable and the undesirable flora and fauna at the moment.
Let us consider the algae that form already. There are substantial flows of sewage, both treated and untreated. There is already a nutrient-rich flow, especially in the summer months and especially during summers of low flow, of which 1991 was a good example.
§ Dr. Kim Howells
I agree with my hon. Friend that the flow is nutrient-rich in the summer. Does he also acknowledge that it is nutrient-rich in the winter, especially during periods of high rainfall when the Welsh water authority still has a derogated right to put raw sewage into the Taff and the Ely? Those rivers will be impounded by the barrage.
§ Mr. Morgan
That is a problem that still has not been dealt with by Welsh Water or by the Cardiff bay development corporation. There is the phenomenon of storm sewer overflows in the valleys which is an almost ineradicable problem of water quality management. However, that was not the primary issue which I was addressing. I was talking about the treated sewage in the summer which tends to create the algal life forms which are material to the new clause. We are talking about flora and fauna in the bay. No doubt the winter sewage flows emerging through the storm sewer overflows tend to impregnate the mud during the winter.
As there is sunlight and warmth on the mud during the summer, the algae come to life and there can be huge quantities. Standing on Canton bridge in the summer of 1991, I noticed huge algal blooms of the strip variety known as cladophora which are then grazed by mullet which come in from the harbour. They are like cows eating grass. There are huge quantities of mullet in my constituency opposite the national rugby ground which I am sure that you have visited, Mr. Deputy Speaker, despite your affection for the thirteen-a-side handling code. Whether you were allowed in if people knew that is another matter. However, I believe that you have been to the national rugby stadium. Right behind there is the phenomenon in dry summers of large quantities of green algal weed being eaten by the mullet—the cows of the river—which come in from the harbour.
If there is a barrage, the mullet cannot come in. Who will graze the cladophora if the mullet cannot come in 372 from the harbour? They will be outside the barrage and the cladophora will be on the inside. That is a serious problem. There was not a problem in 1992 because it was not a dry summer, as you are probably aware, Mr. Deputy Speaker. With the high rainfall after early July, by and large it has been a problem that is easy to control. Once every five or six years when there is a dry summer it is an almost insoluble problem.
Under the new clause, algal infestation of the barrage would be considered a means by which the development corporation would have complied with the Bill. We have a nutrient-rich green pea soup environment in the river which is full of life. It is not the sort that we want because the river is full of rats over which there is no biological control. The air above the lake will be full of 11 billion midges so everyone around the lake will be scratching. Yet the corporation will say, "That is what it says in new clause 1."
We need a system for defining what are desirable flora and fauna and what are not. The only way in which we can categorise flora and fauna as desirable or otherwise is to define whether they are natural or not. We might pick and choose, and say, "Ducks are nice. We can install a coarse fishery and that will be nice. We can charge people to catch coarse fish. The coarse fish will eat the midges. The coarse fish will be put back after having been caught." The corporation has such plans in mind.
It is difficult to compare such a development with the natural environment today. The problem comes back to the fact that the new clause is a complete wash-out, either because the Countryside Council for Wales did not have the guts to oppose the Bill or was legally instructed by the Secretary of State for Wales not to do so. Instead, it will get the absolutely milksop compensation of the right of consultation, and the duty to develop and to conserve flora and fauna.
The new clause does not satisfy us that the Secretary of State could honestly go to a future Rio summit. If Welsh nationalist Members ever have their way, the Prime Minister of Wales will have his own nameplate and glass of water at the United Nations. If he was signing a Rio summit agreement on biodiversity, but was the same person who had introduced the Bill, nobody from the third world would listen to his lectures with any respect. Nobody would say, "To be fair, that is how they do it in Wales." That is not how people do it in Wales.
Despite the rather pathetic attempts to show green credentials in the new clause, we feel that the Secretary of State is abandoning his environmental obligations and is not in a fit position, as a member of the United Kingdom Government, to deliver lectures to anyone about how the human race should live in harmony with the biosphere.
§ Mr. Peter Hain (Neath)
A number of bird lovers in Neath who are members of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have asked me to raise a number of issues. I hope that the House will give me leave to do so.
It is obvious that there is great concern about the future of wildlife, especially bird life, as a result of the development. The Government have not yet addressed a number of the key points that have been raised by the RSPB which I want to draw to the House's attention.
We need to note that the bay can hold up to 5,000 wading birds in the winter months. The birds come to Wales in the winter from summer breeding grounds in a range of northern European countries. Wales has a special 373 responsibility to take care of those birds which are part of the European heritage of wildlife. Cardiff bay is a critical area in that it is a component of the Greater Severn estuary ecosystem.
The bay provides sheltered, high-level mudflats supporting an abundance of invertebrate organisms on which the birds feed. It is an important part of the chain of sheltered sites around the Severn estuary. The Government do not seem to recognise that or to be dealing adequately with it. The Severn estuary, of which Cardiff bay is part, qualifies as a wetland of international wildlife importance under criteria established in the Ramsar convention to which the United Kingdom is a signatory.
The Severn estuary qualifies as a special protection area under article 4 of EC directive 79/409 on the conservation of wild birds. That resulted in a citation being deposited in 1990 with the Welsh Office and with the Department of the Environment by the Nature Conservancy Council.
The Secretary of State has declared that it is not the Government's intention to include Cardiff bay in a future special protection area. I find that very worrying. The Government do not seem to me to have answered any of the major criticisms made by the RSPB, among others. There is a strong case for saying that, in pursuing their plans for the development of Cardiff bay, the Government are reneging on their responsibility to conserve the wildlife heritage of Europe. There are three key factors pertinent to this matter. First, the alternative solutions suggested by the RSPB and others have not been given much credence by the Government. Secondly, the Government have not paid serious attention to the need to satisfy the requirements of European Community law to declare special protection areas, including the Severn estuary and thus Cardiff bay. Thirdly, there is a strong case for suggesting that, in attempting to exclude Cardiff bay from the ecological unit of which it is a key part—the Severn estuary—Ministers have made a conscious attempt to circumvent both the spirit and the letter of European law.
Bird lovers in my constituency and throughout the country, represented nationally by the RSPB, have argued their case on these serious issues with great force but have not received serious or convincing answers from the Government. Whilst that remains the case, we must fear the consequences of the barrage proposals for the future of wildlife, and of bird life in particular.
I ask the Minister to address himself to those issues. If he is not willing to accept at least some of the constructive amendments tabled by the Opposition, he will have to answer the charges made by bird lovers and others who say that the barrage development will destroy the natural habitat of a very important section of European wildlife and bird life—a habitat of which Cardiff bay is an important part. The Government have not taken that on board, nor have they seriously addressed the concerns expressed by those most actively involved.
§ Mr. Win Griffiths
One can only be amazed at the confidence trick that the Government appear to think that they can pull with hon. Members by introducing new clause 1. The remedial or ameliorative measures—I do not know precisely into which category they fall—in the new clause are clearly an afterthought on the Government's part. They have been introduced to try to placate those 374 who are concerned about our natural environment—in particular the Taff-Ely estuary and the tidal mudflats that stretch out beyond the city of Cardiff.
The barrage will destroy for ever mudflats which the Government have declared to be important—even if they are setting aside their earlier judgments in proposing to build the barrage. The Government seek to convince us that the development corporation should be required merely tohave regard to the desirability of developing and conserving flora and fauna.It could be argued that that is merely the legal language in which Governments must express themselves. If we take the words literally, however, it would appear that the development corporation can choose—it may regard the development and conservation of flora and fauna as desirable; it may not.
In any case, it is suggested that the development corporation should conserve flora and fauna. The truth is that, once the barrage has been built, the flora and fauna of the Cardiff mudflats will be destroyed. There will be no opportunity to conserve them because they will have disappeared under goodness knows how many metres of water.
It is suggested that the Countryside Council for Wales should be consulted about ways in which the flora and fauna might be developed. The Government's audacity takes my breath away. They are trying to present themselves as being concerned about the environment of an inland bay created by a barrage that will already have destroyed an important intertidal mudflat enjoying a degree of protection. In a series of questions that I tabled last Session, I tried to get the Department of the Environment and the Welsh Office to agree that any area designated as a site of special scientific interest ought to be totally protected—that nothing should allow its destruction. Unfortunately, the Government took the view that, even if they had designated a site as being of special scientific interest, they could destroy such a site if it suited them.
§ Mr. Gareth Wardell (Gower)
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is vital to ask what constitutes desirability in terms of the development and conservation of flora and fauna? Given that the mudflats are to disappear, which species of flora and fauna will the development corporation consider it desirable to develop and conserve? Does my hon. Friend agree that, before we can accept the new clause, we need to know how the development corporation will establish which flora and fauna it is desirable to develop to replace the existing forms?
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend makes an interesting and telling point. I suppose that the Government may say that the purpose of new clause 1(2) is to deal with that very point: it will be up to the Countryside Council for Wales to advise the development corporation on the best way to manage, develop and conserve flora and fauna. It would be most informative and helpful if the Minister gave us the information that my hon. Friend seeks. The issue has been dealt with in the context of the rather ugly, uninteresting mudflats bordering the edge of Cardiff. We are told that it would be much prettier if they were submerged and we had an expanse of water behind the barrage. The people of Cardiff would no longer have to look at the mudflats, which look rather ugly and dirty when the tide is out.
375 The truth is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To the dunlin and many other migratory and wading birds the mudflats are heaven. The birds certainly do not want the mudflats to be removed. If they had a voice, they would be here this evening putting the case. Unfortunately, they are not able to do so. We can make a small contribution on their behalf. We must try to broaden our horizons. The story developed by the Government is that these ugly mudflats can be transformed and made to look much nicer and that they can play a part in the further development of Cardiff. After all, it is a relatively small area.
At one time the Government thought that the mudflats were worth designating as a site of special scientific interest, but they certainly will not give them the special protected status which they should have. The Government will destroy them. Of course, that argument is being used for half the estuaries in the United Kingdom.
Reference was made earlier to the impending efforts to build an Usk barrage. Again part of the argument is that the dirty mudflats are exposed at low tide and it would be much nicer if there was a barrage and the mudflats were permanently under water. More than half of the estuaries around the coast of the United Kingdom are threatened with such developments. Only when we see the whole picture do we realise that the Cardiff piece of the jigsaw is absolutely vital. It is vital to retain the mudflats so that the migratory and wading birds can have the benefit of those feeding grounds.
The United Kingdom has a long coastline. Our coastline and its mudflats are important to the ecosystem of north-west Europe and the world. New clause 1 seems to mislead us into believing that it will do something effective about preserving and conserving the flora and fauna which will be destroyed by the barrage. That will not happen. This important intertidal zone should be properly conserved. No one should be misled by new clause 1. A visitor from Mars or, say, Uruguay who happened to come through London this evening and read new clause 1 might consider that it was an effective way of protecting the mudflats, but the new clause is cosmetic because the mudflats will be destroyed.
The mudflats in Cardiff bay are of immense international importance to wildlife. The intertidal zone between the land and the sea at low tide is important as a feeding ground for many migratory birds. It forms part of a biological chain which spans half of the globe. We must consider the global context of what the Government seek to do in new clause 1. The new clause does absolutely nothing to protect the flora and fauna of intertidal zones in the global context. We must ask ourselves why the Government even tried to provide such a smokescreen. Did they believe that Opposition Members would not notice what was going on?
§ Mr. Gareth Wardell
My hon. Friend has made himself an acknowledged expert on beach pollution and the quality of bathing beaches throughout Wales. Could he confirm that one of our difficulties is that wildlife feed on the raw sewage discharged along the Welsh coast, which often finds its way into the mudflats? If we remove that biosphere and ecology of the mudflats it will cause a major problem. For example, I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that Liverpool bay is a classic example of a reserve of international importance—
§ Mr. Wardell
I am coming to my question. Is it not the case that in areas such as Liverpool bay, which are similar in international importance to Cardiff bay, to clean up the coast for the human population can have a devastating effect by changing the habitat of the flora and fauna?
§ Mr. Griffiths
My hon. Friend makes an important point which forms part of the case for keeping the intertidal mudflats intact. He rightly pointed out that over the years we have been lax in implementing European Community directives to which we have agreed. The 1976 directive to which my hon. Friend referred should have been complied with by 1986. It seems that the directive will not be fully complied with even by 1996. When the directive is fully complied with, less raw sewage will go on to the tidal mudflats.
As you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if one does not put manure on one's garden one does not grow good crops. It is the same with the intertidal mudflats. If raw sewage is not put on them the teeming wildlife which the migratory birds find so attractive will no longer exist. The harvest of food on which the migratory birds rely will be reduced. The yield of the mudflats will fall because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. Wardell) rightly says, there will not he so much sewage about to encourage growth.
The Government should be much more concerned about preserving the existing mudflats so that the loss of the lower forms of animal life on which the birds feed is minimal. Those forms of life will not exist in such profusion when we comply fully with the EC directive. There are a number of schemes around the Cardiff area. Some have been completed and others will be completed in the fairly near future. That issue is relevant to considering the conservation of flora and fauna, which is what new clause I seeks to do.
The intertidal mudflats are a vital lifeline between the Arctic breeding grounds of millions of birds and their distant winter quarters to the south. The Severn estuary—to which Cardiff bay is of vital import—is where so many of those birds find a staging post. It would not be putting it too strongly to describe it as a lifeline for them as they migrate.
§ Mr. Morgan
The real controversy, to which none of us knows the answer as we cannot carry out the experiment, is about what would happen if one were to remove all sewage from the flow of the Taff and Ely rivers. Would the bay still be important, or does its importance derive from its enclosed nature because it is a shelter? Most experts think that 90 per cent. of the benefit to migrating wading birds, which overwinter there or use it as a stopping-off place on the way to Africa, derives because it is a shelter rather from the sewage—star fuel for the remainder of the journey. I am not a scientific expert and I intend to leave the matter there, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I thank my hon. Friend for an interesting suggestion for a research topic which the Government might like to fund before they carry on with the barrage. It is certainly well worth thinking about.
If Cardiff bay were the only area under threat, we might be able to shrug our shoulders and say, "Okay, this time 377 we'll accept it." The truth is that more than half of the United Kingdom's estuaries are faced with a similar threat. The Government should not have produced a cosmetic new clause in which they seem to want to give an aura of respect to the barrage that will so damage the environment of the Cardiff mudflats. They give the impression that the development corporation will have hearts of green when managing the inland bay, and that by some miracle the flora and fauna will be conserved and developed. We are almost left with the impression that the result will be much better for the flora and fauna. The truth is that the natural state of things is best for the birds.
I cannot accept that the new clause is a serious effort to meet the concerns of conservationists, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and of the many people in the Cardiff area who arc worried. Even at this late stage I should like to think that the Government could remodel the Bill so that there would not be a permanent barrage which would destroy the mudflats. I hope that, even at the 11th hour, they will give us a reprieve rather than the stay of execution that these measures seem to imply.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
This has been a long debate. Hon. Members present, and some who could not still be here, might appreciate that there is a sense of déjà vu.
The hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) mentioned several important matters that we have had to consider: the involvement of local councils, environmental health, dinghy sailing, ground water, adequate compensation and alternative feeding grounds. She also asked me for reassurance about legal scrutiny. I can give her the fullest assurance that we are confident that the Bill, as it stands and without further amendment, complies with the EC wild birds directive, in the light of the Leybucht judgment. I noted her complaints about the issuing of documents of economic appraisal. Only the economic appraisal was new, and it was issued last week because it was only completed then. I asked for the documents to be sent to her home—and to the other hon. Members involved—to try to ensure that it got to them with the least possible delay. The other documents had been available before and were only reissued to remind hon. Members of what was available and to aid this evening's debate. I am especially concerned to hear that the documents never reached the hon. Lady. I offer her my most sincere apologies for that omission, and I shall try to investigate what went wrong.
The hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) spoke at great length. I was touched by his reference to my powers in 1986. He should read what I said then, and perhaps he would better understand my contributions, then and since, to this important debate.
§ Mr. Ron Davies
I was referring to the occasion when, from the anonymity of the Back Benches, the hon. Gentleman objected to the Bill at 2.30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon. There was no debate. He stopped the Bill and prevented it from having an unopposed Second Reading.
§ Mr. Jones
The hon. Gentleman is right. Clearly I was not very anonymous, since he and everyone else knows that I shouted "Object". But that did not stop the Bill. It was debated further and the hon. Gentleman is welcome to read what I said in that debate.
After listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Caerphilly for one hour and 19 minutes, I felt that his case was to maintain the present flora and fauna and the 378 existing environment. There was a lack of any wish to consider the alternative, the new environment or the future flora and fauna that would be brought about by a barrage and the creation of an inland bay. Of course it will be different. Such a creation would mean that much of the present flora and fauna could not continue, but that there would be new flora and fauna afterwards. There would be a new environment. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth (Mr. Michael) produced a most appropriate response to his hon. Friend's comments. He said that there has been substantial debate on the subject already, not least on the quality of environment that we want in south Cardiff. As the hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth said, we are about an environmental improvement for the many. The absence of any consideration of that improvement has been most marked, apart from in his contribution.
I listened closely, as I have done before, to the passion and concern of the hon. Member for Glanford and Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), a noted expert on matters ornithological. He echoed the concerns of the hon. Member for Caerphilly, as did the hon. Members for Neath (Mr. Hain) and for Bridgend (Mr. Griffiths).
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) told us that he had achieved quite a remarkable feat. He had been in the Tea Room when the annunciator showed that he was speaking in the Chamber and he had been able to boast about it. We would have equally understood if he had told us that he had dreamt that he was speaking about the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill only to wake up to find that he was doing so. Perhaps his desire to be absent from the Chamber was because of his sense of déjà vu and his feeling—subconscious or otherwise—that it is about time that we started to make progress with this measure.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West referred to the amendments relating to the important matter of pleasure craft. I remind him that extensive discussions have taken place between the development corporation and the Royal Yachting Association on the access facilities to be provided. It has been agreed, to the satisfaction of that association, that three locks, 40 m long and 10.5 m wide, will be constructed. I am not aware of any pleasure craft currently in the bay that would not fit in such a lock. I therefore feel that amendment No. 62 is unnecessary.
Clause 9(2) requires the development corporation to have regard tothe requirements of vessels in, or passing to or from, the inland baywhen operating the barrage. Clause 13(1) requires the development corporation tomanage the inland bay and the outer harbour so as to facilitate their use by pleasure craft and … water sports".The construction of the barrage is bound to change the accessibility of the bay to boats because their access will be gained through the locks rather than being unrestricted. However, those boats will be able to get in and out at times when the tide would now prevent them from doing so.
I understand that slipway provision is being contemplated for dinghy sailors who would prefer not to use the locks. I anticipate that those sailors would prefer to use that facility instead, although the locks are intended to have features to reduce turbulence—there will be less turbulence in the new locks than there is in the lock to the Portway marina.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, South and Penarth asked about agreements reached with the sailing clubs. I 379 understand that agreement has been reached on rebates, lock charges and the cost of moorings, but the issue of their premises is the subject of continued discussion.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West referred to amendments Nos. 22 and 23 which ask the House to place a requirement on the development corporation to publish a report of its consultations with the Countryside Council for Wales and the RSPB about the measures to be taken todevelop and conserve flora and fauna".The difficulty with the amendments is that they appear to regard consultation as a one-off affair, but consultations on measures to develop and conserve flora and fauna will be on-going. I believe that a formal report, as envisaged in the amendments, is not appropriate.
It has also been suggested that detailed estimates of the general environmental impact should be published. I remind the House that the impact of the barrage scheme is already more than adequately covered by the environmental statement deposited with the Bill. That statement and the assessment of the environmental effects, which the House is now carrying out, render the amendments unnecessary.
§ Mr. Morgan
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is unsatisfactory that the environmental impact assessment did not include any reference to the views of or discussions with the two main statutory bodies that will determine the water sports to be undertaken in the bay and the quality of the water in that inland bay, namely, the National Rivers Authority and the environmental health officers of the two riparian local authorities? Does he not regard that as an appalling state of affairs when one is trying to provide a proper, independent, environmental impact assessment?
§ Mr. Jones
No. We have an appropriate environmental statement. None of the issues has been ignored in the full consideration that the House has given and is giving to this matter.
Hon. Members will recall that provisions relating to alternative feeding grounds were removed from the Bill by the Standing Committee. The Government remain committed to seeking some form of alternative mitigation. The feasibility study into the suitability of the site on the Gwent levels as a bird reserve, which I announced in Committee, is expected to be ready by the end of the year. That is an appropriate response to the hon. Member for Neath, who suggested that we had not taken the RSPB's concerns seriously.
The RSPB suggested that an alternative habitat could be erected on the Gwent levels. The Welsh Office, the development corporation, the Countryside Council for Wales and the RSPB are all co-operating on a study of that, funded by the development corporation. I hope that that will lead to the creation of an extremely valuable nature reserve. The RSPB has argued that that would provide much better value than the Wentloog lagoon. We will publish the results of the study as soon as they are available. We shall do so well in advance of carrying out the works authorised by the Bill and while the Bill is still before Parliament.
The hon. Member for Cardiff, West and other hon. Members are wrong to suggest that new clause 1 is a response to Europe—certainly not. It is a response to the 380 hon. Member for Cardiff, West. Amendment No. 3 covers exactly the amendment that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West sought to introduce in Committee. Our other amendments, together with new clause 1, go further than he wanted in improving the management of the inland bay once the barrage is completed. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman has not welcomed the fact that we have not only accepted what he wanted but gone further.
I do not accept the other amendments in the group and I hope that they will not be pursued.
§ Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 215, Noes 156.382
|Division No. 74]||[7.45 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Emery, Sir Peter|
|Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)||Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)|
|Allason, Rupert (Torbay)||Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)|
|Amess, David||Evans, Roger (Monmouth)|
|Ancram, Michael||Evennett, David|
|Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)||Faber, David|
|Arbuthnot, James||Fabricant, Michael|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Faulds, Andrew|
|Ashby, David||Fenner, Dame Peggy|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E)||Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Flynn, Paul|
|Banks, Matthew (Southport)||Forman, Nigel|
|Bates, Michael||Forth, Eric|
|Bellingham, Henry||Fox, Dr Liam (Woodsprlng)|
|Bendall, Vivian||Freeman, Roger|
|Beresford, Sir Paul||French, Douglas|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Fry, Peter|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Gallie, Phil|
|Boswell, Tim||Gardiner, Sir George|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia||Gill, Christopher|
|Bowden, Andrew||Gillan, Cheryl|
|Bowis, John||Golding, Mrs Llin|
|Brandreth, Gyles||Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles|
|Brazier, Julian||Greenway, John (Ryedale)|
|Bright, Graham||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)||Grylls, Sir Michael|
|Browning, Mrs. Angela||Hague, William|
|Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Burns, Simon||Hargreaves, Andrew|
|Burt, Alistair||Harris, David|
|Butcher, John||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Butler, Peter||Hawkins, Nick|
|Butterfill, John||Hawksley, Warren|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Heald, Oliver|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry)||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Hendry, Charles|
|Carrington, Matthew||Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael|
|Carttiss, Michael||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Hill, James (Southampton Test)|
|Chaplin, Mrs Judith||Horam, John|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Clappison, James||Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)|
|Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)||Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)|
|Coe, Sebastian||Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)|
|Colvin, Michael||Jack, Michael|
|Conway, Derek||Jackson, Robert (Wantage)|
|Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st)||Jenkin, Bernard|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Jessel, Toby|
|Cope, Rt Hon Sir John||Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey|
|Couchman, James||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Cran, James||Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine|
|Davies, Quentin (Stamford)||Key. Robert|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Day, Stephen||Knapman, Roger|
|Deva, Nirj Joseph||Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash)|
|Devlin, Tim||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Dover, Den||Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)|
|Duncan, Alan||Knox, David|
|Duncan-Smith, Iain||Kynoch, George (Kincardine)|
|Durant, Sir Anthony||Lait. Mrs Jacqui|
|Eggar, Tim||Legg, Barry|
|Elletson, Harold||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Lidington, David||Spencer, Sir Derek|
|Lightbown, David||Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)|
|Lord, Michael||Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)|
|Luff, Peter||Spink, Dr Robert|
|Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas||Sproat, Iain|
|Lynne, Ms Liz||Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)|
|MacKay, Andrew||Steen, Anthony|
|Maitland, Lady Olga||Stephen, Michael|
|Malone, Gerald||Stern, Michael|
|Mans, Keith||Sumberg, David|
|Marland, Paul||Sweeney, Walter|
|Marlow, Tony||Sykes, John|
|Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Taylor, John M. (Solihull)|
|Merchant, Piers||Taylor, Matthew (Truro)|
|Milligan, Stephen||Thomason, Roy|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Moate, Roger||Thurnham, Peter|
|Molyneaux, Rt Hon James||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Moss, Malcolm||Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)|
|Nelson, Anthony||Tracey, Richard|
|Neubert, Sir Michael||Tredinnick, David|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Trend, Michael|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Tyler, Paul|
|Ottaway, Richard||Walker, Bill (N Tayside)|
|Page, Richard||Wallace, James|
|Patnick, Irvine||Waller, Gary|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Ward, John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)|
|Porter, Barry (Wirral S)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Watts, John|
|Portillo, Rt Hon Michael||Wells, Bowen|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wheeler, Sir John|
|Redwood, John||Whittingdale, John|
|Renton, Rt Hon Tim||Widdecombe, Ann|
|Richards, Rod||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn||Willetts, David|
|Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)||Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Robinson, Mark (Somerton)||Wood, Timothy|
|Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)||Yeo, Tim|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Tellers for the Ayes|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor||Mr. Robert Hughes and|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Mr. Nicholas Baker.|
|Speed, Sir Keith|
|Ainger, Nick||Corston, Ms Jean|
|Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)||Cousins, Jim|
|Allen, Graham||Cryer, Bob|
|Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale)||Cummings, John|
|Ashton, Joe||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Austin-Walker, John||Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)|
|Barnes, Harry||Dafis, Cynog|
|Barron, Kevin||Dalyell, Tam|
|Battle, John||Darling, Alistair|
|Bayley, Hugh||Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)|
|Beckett, Margaret||Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)|
|Bennett, Andrew F.||Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'I)|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Denham, John|
|Berry, Dr. Roger||Dixon, Don|
|Blunkett, David||Donohoe, Brian H.|
|Boyce, Jimmy||Dowd, Jim|
|Bradley, Keith||Dunnachie, Jimmy|
|Caborn, Richard||Eastham, Ken|
|Callaghan, Jim||Etherington, Bill|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Evans, John (St Helens N)|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Ewing, Mrs Margaret|
|Chisholm, Malcolm||Fatchett, Derek|
|Clapham, Michael||Foster, Derek (B 'p Auckland)|
|Clark, Dr David (South Shields)||Foulkes, George|
|Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)||Fyfe, Maria|
|Clelland, David||Galbraith, Sam|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Gapes, Mike|
|Coffey, Ann||Gerrard, Neil|
|Connarty, Michael||Godman, Dr Norman A.|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Graham, Thomas|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Grocott, Bruce||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Hain, Peter||Morley, Elliot|
|Hall, Mike||Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)|
|Hanson, David||Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)|
|Henderson, Doug||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Heppell, John||Mullin, Chris|
|Hinchliffe, David||Murphy, Paul|
|Home Robertson, John||O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Olner, William|
|Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Hoyle, Doug||Patchett, Terry|
|Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)||Pike, Peter L.|
|Hutton, John||Pope, Greg|
|Illsley, Eric||Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)|
|Ingram, Adam||Primarolo, Dawn|
|Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)||Raynsford, Nick|
|Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)||Reid, Dr John|
|Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)||Roche, Mrs. Barbara|
|Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)||Rooney, Terry|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Rowlands, Ted|
|Keen, Alan||Simpson, Alan|
|Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Khabra, Piara S.||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Kilfoyle, Peter||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Leighton, Ron||Spearing, Nigel|
|Lewis, Terry||Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)|
|Llwyd, Elfyn||Steinberg, Gerry|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Strang, Dr. Gavin|
|McCartney, Ian||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Macdonald, Calum||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|McFall, John||Tipping, Paddy|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Turner, Dennis|
|McLeish, Henry||Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold|
|McMaster, Gordon||Warden, Gareth (Gower)|
|Madden, Max||Wareing, Robert N|
|Mahon, Alice||Watson, Mike|
|Mandelson, Peter||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Marek, Dr John||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Wilson, Brian|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)||Wise, Audrey|
|Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)||Worthington, Tony|
|Martlew, Eric||Wray, Jimmy|
|Meale, Alan||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Milburn, Alan||Mr. Ray Powell and|
|Miller, Andrew||Mr. John Spellar.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.