UK Government must help clear up Wales’ coal tips to meet COP climate pledges says Welsh MP
A Welsh MP has said that the UK Government must help clean up Wales’ coal tips in order to meet its COP26 climate pledges.
There are 2,456 coal tips in Wales, with 327 classified as high risk, and with rainfall expected to increase by around 6% over the next 30 years in Wales they could become more dangerous.
The President of COP26, Alok Sharma, said it was vital that governments “help at risk communities adapt to the impact of Climate Change”.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville-Roberts said that “climate change is set to compound the risk posed by coal tips” and the UK Government’s “refusal” to settle the £600m bill to clean them up was inconsistent with its climate change commitments.
“Wales’s dangerous coal tips loom over our industrial communities like spectres from our industrial past and remind us of how our natural resources were exploited, mostly for the benefit of others,” she said.
She added: “As the honourable Gentleman well knows, it is an inherited issue. Our industrial communities still bear the scars of the scorched-earth policy inflicted by Prime Minister Thatcher. The green transition must be different.”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, David T.C. Davies, responded to say that the Welsh Government had received an extra £2.5 billion of extra funding this year and could spend it on removing coal tips.
“She has often said that the UK Government should not get involved in devolved issues; this is a devolved issue, but we have provided the money for the Welsh Government to deal with it,” he said.
“If there are dangerous coal tips, the Welsh Government have the money and must get on and solve the problem.”
‘Turn its back’
Last month the Welsh Government criticised Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget for failing to make any extra money available to help make Wales’ most high-risk coal tips safe.
First Minister Mark Drakeford had 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.”