First Minister and Secretary of State promise ‘urgent’ work on coal tip safety after storms

Coal tip above Duffryn in the Afan valley. © Copyright Jeremy Bolwell (CC BY-SA 2.0)

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Secretary of State Simon Hart today chaired a meeting to discuss coal tip safety following recent storms.

The First Minister and Secretary of State agreed their governments would work together to urgently assess the safety of tips and ensure they are being properly inspected and monitored.

Storm Dennis earlier this month caused multiple landslides as well as flooding across the country. One slip that impacted a coal tip at Tylorstown, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was caught on camera.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I met the Secretary of State today to discuss how our Governments can work together to ensure coal tips across Wales are being managed responsibly.

“I want to reassure people living close to coal tips across Wales that we are taking this situation seriously and we will continue to keep them informed.”

The coal tips are a legacy of the coal industry where ‘spoil’ was dumped on the hillsides. One of the worst disasters in the history of Wales, at Aberfan, was caused by a spoil tip that collapsed after heavy rain in 1966. The disaster killed 116 children and 28 adults.

 

‘Safety’

The coal tip safety meeting was also attended by the leader of the WLGA, the Coal Authority and Natural Resources Wales.

They agreed that all relevant agencies would work together to share resources and technical expertise on inspection and monitoring & establish a common set of standards for risk assessment. Information will be provided to people living in the south of Wales valleys about the safety of local tips, coordinated by a single point of contact.

The Welsh and UK Governments will co-ordinate the work and the meeting will reconvene next week.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Following the unprecedented weather conditions and flooding brought by recent storms, urgent work is being carried out to asses any risk posed to people or property and to confirm that everyone with a legal responsibility around the tips is fulfilling their safety obligations. Authorities and agencies involved are working together and good progress is being made on this vital work.”

 

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Walter Hunt
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Walter Hunt

In a press release dated 15.1.19, Darren Bryant, Public Safety and Subsidence Principal Project Manager at the Coal Authority, said “The Coal Authority has been providing tip and quarry inspection services for Natural Resources Wales since 2016, and in September 2018 we were successful in winning a 5 year contract to continue to provide these services”. The press release states: The work involves 315 inspections at 291 sites, including disused colliery tips, quarries and civil engineering structures in South Wales. Was the Tylorstown tip on the inspection list? Was it inspected before 16-2-20? And if so, what were the findings?

Huw Davies
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Huw Davies

Just watch the ducking and diving to see who can get away with forking out the least on this major crisis. The entire flood prevention and land reclamation issue is riddled with people shying away from responsibility. FFS Aberfan happened over 50 years ago, despite all the chatter lessons were NOT learnt. Instead people in positions of responsibility became more devious in how they ducked their responsibilities, often drawing fat salaries for doing SFA. Those spoil tips are vulnerable to a number of adverse factors, but in our part of the world erosion by water is most common especially when… Read more »