James at The Springfields Academy
James Gray MP welcoming representatives of 20th Armoured Brigade to Parliament
James Gray MP with representatives from Google and The Countryside Alliance Foundation
James with representatives of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards during a Welcome Home Event for 20th Armoured Brigade
Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Conservative): One reason for over-abstraction from rivers such as the source of the Thames and the Malmesbury, the Avon and the Kennet in my constituency is that the law prevents planners from considering water and sewerage availability when agreeing unwanted out-of-town developments and large-scale developments such as those around Swindon. Will the Minister have discussions with his colleagues at the Department for Communities and Local Government to consider whether planning law could be changed to avoid over-abstraction from rivers such as mine?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): That is a matter of great concern to me. The River Kennet flows through my constituency, and when I stood in it in Marlborough the other day, it was as dry as the carpet on which I am standing. It is a very real problem, and the projections for population growth across this country in the years to come indicate that we have to address it now. We are setting out in the White Paper a vision that will precisely encompass the concerns so accurately voiced by my hon. Friend. We need to ensure that there is an adequate water supply so that our rivers and taps can continue to flow, and we are trying to link up those two very important requirements.
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