Councillors back plans for new coal tips maintenance programme
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Senior councillors have backed plans to impose a stricter inspection and maintenance regime on coal tips.
The new scheme aims to ensure that all coal tips in the Caerphilly County Borough are safe.
Councillor Jamie Pritchard, Deputy Leader of the council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Property, said the new scheme was a “planned and preventative” approach with tougher enforcement.
Currently the local authority does not have the power to enter private tips without permission, but its proposed that negotiations will take place between the landowners and the council to agree access to the sites if improvement work is required.
In a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, March 23, Cllr Eluned Stenner, cabinet Member for Performance, Economy and Enterprise, said: “A consistent approach is well overdue in this area.”
The council has had a tip inspection and management procedure in place since 2013, but following the landslip in Tylorstown in the Rhondda Valley in 2020, caused by Storm Dennis, the Welsh Government reviewed all coal tips in Wales.
The Tylorstown tip
Leader of the Council, Cllr Philippa Marsden, said: “The Tylorstown tip was on many people’s minds as our county is littered with coal tips.”
Following Storm Dennis, all tips in the borough were inspected, but no areas of concern were identified.
Thirteen out of 92 coal tips owned by the council and 38 out of 109 privately owned tips in the borough are considered to be “high risk” – these are inspected by the Coal Authority every six months.
Marcus Lloyd, Head of Infrastructure, insisted there were “no issues” with any coal tips within the borough, but one tip is being closely monitored following the identification of “significant movement”.
He added: “We have been working very closely with the Coal Authority to ensure the high risk tips have been inspected.”
Sites at Bedwas, Pontlottyn, Aberbargoed, Abertysswg and Penallta were the main focus in 2020/21. In total, the predicted spend on tips maintenance in the 2020/21 financial year was just over £1 million.
In an Environment and Sustainability Scrutiny Committee meeting, held on Tuesday, March 22, Cllr Stephen Kent suggested the use of drones to monitor coal tips. Mr Lloyd said this was something the local authority is trialling.
The Welsh Government is currently developing new legislation on Regulating Coal Tip Safety in Wales. Recommendations this year are likely to include the setting up of a new supervisory board responsible for the registration of all tips, their classification and agreeing tip management plans.
This will provide a consistent approach to tips inspection and maintenance across Wales.
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