Wales ‘must move quickly’ to tackle coal tips, First Minister says

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

Wales must “move quickly” to tackle coal tips after landslides during the February floods this year, the First Minister has said.

He spoke after convening a meeting with the UK Government yesterday to discuss the matter.

The summit brought together Welsh Government Ministers, Secretary of State Simon Hart, Rhondda Cynon Taff Leader Andrew Morgan, as well as representatives from local government, the Coal Authority and Natural Resources Wales.

“We must move quickly to get the work done so our communities living in their shadows feel safe and free from worry,” First Minister Mark Drakeford sai.

“Making sure Welsh communities are not disproportionately hit by the legacy of coal mining – both from a safety and financial perspective – is a matter of social justice. We heard that the UK Government understands the significance of this. I stressed the importance of looking positively at how they can support immediate and longer-term costs of this issue that far predates devolution.

“The collaborative working I have seen with local authorities, the Coal Authority and Natural Resources Wales, alongside the Welsh and UK Governments has been exemplary. All have worked hard to ensure that practical actions have been possible, despite the challenges of coronavirus.”

 

‘Safe’

Storm Dennis in February 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.

At the time 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.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said that the UK Government was committed to working closely with the Welsh Government, the Coal Authority and other partners to ensure Wales’ coal tips are properly managed.

“The summit reiterated the need for all parties to contribute actively and effectively to this work, which has continued throughout the coronavirus crisis, so our coalfield communities are kept safe,” he said.

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.

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