DETR – DIBDEN BAY – 13 February 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: What his policy is on the construction of container ports on non-brownfield sites?

[SUPPLEMENTARY:] The Minister having decided to group my question on the Government's policy on the construction of container ports on non-brownfield sites with the previous question on the Order Paper, I am sorry that he has not felt able to answer it more specifically. Is he aware that yesterday Hampshire County Council rejected by 21 votes to none the proposal to turn down the Dibden Bay container port on the edge of the New Forest? Is he aware of the devastating effects that it would have on Totton and the people of the Waterside villages if the development went ahead? Does he know that Associated British Ports has now admitted that it is not part of a national economic need that this port needs to be developed? Can he reassure my constituents, who were extremely worried to hear the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr Rooney), the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, state on television on 8 February:

"I think it is a very valid proposal for developing a much needed container port in the United Kingdom."

Given that the Secretary of State has called in this proposal, how can we have confidence that it will be fairly and impartially judged, when a PPS to a Minister in his Department appears to have made up his mind the wrong way in advance?