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Disused Coal Tips: Safety and Stability

Volume 684: debated on Monday 16 November 2020

What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on local authorities’ responsibilities for the stability and safety of disused coal tips. (908788)

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury wrote to the hon. Member in October saying that he is expecting to provide £2.5 million needed for tip repairs in Tylorstown. The letter also clarifies that he is waiting to hear further from the Welsh Government on additional requests to access the reserve and is working with the Welsh Government’s Finance Minister on this very matter.

It is all very interesting that the Minister reads out a letter that I have already received, so I have actually read it, but it does not answer the question at all. My question is about how we are going to make sure that all the coal tips across the whole UK—because there is still no register of them in England and Wales—are properly accounted for and properly made stable and safe, so that we do not have another Aberfan disaster. I say this as much for constituencies in England as in Wales, because the real danger is that if we have had to find £12.5 million for a single tip in Tylorstown that fell into the river, imagine what the bill is going to be across the whole of England and Wales. It is time the Government woke up to this, and I really hope the Minister will answer the direct question about who is going to be footing the bill. Local authorities will be bankrupted by this if we are not careful.

I was just checking that the hon. Gentleman had received the letter and that he had read it. He has, and I am pleased and grateful for his further contribution. He will know that Welsh local authorities started the 2020-21 financial year with over £1.4 billion of usable reserves. Of that, £200 million was general and unallocated. As I said to him, the Treasury is in discussion with the Welsh Government regarding the funding on this topic. Welsh authorities should discuss further funding with the Welsh Government and I encourage him to do similarly.