Budget slammed for ‘indefensible’ failure to offer funding for coal tip safety
A Welsh Government minister has slammed yesterday’s budget for failing to make any extra money available to help make Wales’ most high-risk coal tips safe.
Data released by the Welsh Government earlier this week identified over 300 tips in the highest risk category across the country and estimated it will take up to 15 years and cost between £500 – £600 million to make them safe.
On Tuesday First Minister Mark Drakeford called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to use the Budget to help fix the problem created before devolution and show the people of Wales that the Union was “there at their back”.
“It is indefensible that the UK Government has refused to work with us and provide funding to support the long-term remediation and repurposing of coal tips in Wales,” Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans MS, said.
“These tips are a legacy of the UK’s industrial past. The need for work to address this impact of disruptive climate change was unknown, and provision was not made when Wales’ funding arrangements were agreed in 1999.
“The UK Government had an opportunity to show it is would stand behind the communities whose efforts created huge wealth for the UK, instead it has chosen to turn its back on them.
The minister also took aim at the allocation of £121 million of support to 11 protects in Wales announced at Westminster which bypassed the Welsh government completely and favoured Tory voting areas.
“We remain fundamentally opposed to the arbitrary use of the financial assistance powers in the UK Internal Market Act to deliver funding in devolved areas,” Ms Evans added.
“Devolution is about decisions being taken by those elected by people in Wales, close to the communities they serve who best understand their needs and circumstances, accountable to the Senedd for their decisions.
“It is extremely disappointing to see that UK Government has decided to press on regardless with these divisive and inefficient policies.”
The Conservatives won 14 of 40 seats in Wales at the 2019 General Election but Tory seats will receive over 60% – £73.2m – of the levelling up cash.
Only 16.7% of the money – £20.2m – will go to Labour constituencies, despite them winning 22 of Wales 40 seats. Even Plaid Cymru constituencies will get more, with £27.5m doled out there.
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