Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420
WEDNESDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2000
420. But you do not know?
(Dr Greener) No, of course not. How can I sit here
421. But you see what I am getting at?
(Dr Greener) I do see what you are getting at. What
I am trying to say to you is that in all of my experience and
many visits to many of these sites and locations, talking to many
of our people, I know that a tremendous amount of activity has
gone on in terms of looking at sites, looking at structures such
as this. It would be almost unthinkable for me to say to you that
it was not us. I cannot sit here and say I am absolutely 100 per
cent certain that it is. Okay?
422. I am simply seeking clarification. This
will give you an opportunity to be fully open to my next comment.
What you say is that as far as British Waterways are concerned
you do not know who initiated this project and you do not know
whether British Waterways ever initiated a similar project on
this site over 25 years?
(Dr Greener) But I would be amazed if we had not,
423. But you do not know?
(Dr Fletcher) Excuse me. Could I just answer you.
In my time in British Waterways we have sought to review every
single site with every listed structure. This site has been brought
to me to be reviewed many times in the last five years. I have
been specifically involved in
424. Dr Fletcher, I do not think we want to
go back over the long administrative problems of British Waterways.
You were asked a specific question: has the site been brought
forward with a scheme? Have you put the thing together? Have you
produced a report?
(Dr Fletcher) Yes.
425. And the answer is?
(Dr Fletcher) Yes, yes, yes.
426. Not a successful one because it is not
(Dr Fletcher) We are reviewing a successful one, as
we explained to you, at this very moment.
427. Twenty five years after the thing was originally
(Dr Fletcher) Can I just clarify? I do not know if
the site has been empty for 25 years. Twenty five years ago British
Waterways were running a freight fleet. That may well have been
used for freight or other purposes, so I am sorry, I do not know
the occupancy 25 years ago.
428. But we are not disputing the fact that
no successful scheme has gone in there in the last 25 years, are
(Dr Fletcher) I do not know, madam, because
429. Are we agreed on that?
(Dr Fletcher) No, because I do not know what use that
building was put to 25 years ago.
430. It might be 24½ years.
(Dr Fletcher) It might be ten years.
431. It might, but there is no evidence.
(Dr Fletcher) I do not know.
432. But that is another "don't know",
is it not? You do not know what timescale we are talking about
here, so that is three "don't knows" that the Committee
have. Can I move on to freight and hopefully we can make more
progress on that? Dr Fletcher, you said with regard to the Government's
stated objective of doubling freight on waterways that you would
like to see it more than that. It does hark back to my previous
question. There are those who criticise British Waterways for
having your top priorities as recreational and property development
and you are really not interested in freight. What is your response
to that criticism?
(Dr Fletcher) I am sure it is a well intended allegation
but it is quite wrong.
433. It is wrong?
(Dr Fletcher) Absolutely wrong.
434. Could I refer to evidence we have received
from well respected academics at London Guildhall University about
the River Weaver, an offshoot of the Manchester Ship Canal, which,
according to the evidence we have, is now silted up to such a
degree that coastal and shortsea vessels cannot use it. Do you
confirm that it is silted up to that degree?
(Dr Fletcher) No.
435. So it is not? That information is incorrect?
(Dr Fletcher) Yes, your allegation is incorrect.
436. It is not my allegation. So it can be used
and is being used for coastal and shortsea vessels? Is that correct?
(Mr Sim) Yes, there is traffic that comes up to the
ICI works at Barton(?).
437. It is navigable?
(Mr Sim) It is navigable.
438. There is no problem?
(Mr Sim) There is no problem. It is navigable.
439. That answers my question then. It is a
direct contradiction of the evidence that we have received.