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Disused Coal Tips: Safety

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2021

What discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) the Coal Authority on funding for ensuring the safety and stability of disused coal tips. (911352)

Treasury Ministers regularly speak to their ministerial colleagues on all matters of public spending. Remediation of coal sites is a devolved policy and responsibility lies with the devolved Administration through their Barnett funding.

Well, that was a depressing start, because the truth is that 40% of all the disused coal tips in the whole United Kingdom are in Wales, which is much higher than the Barnett formula would normally allow for. Ninety per cent. of all the disused coal tips in England and Wales are in the poorest communities, so if the Government really stick to this policy of “It’s down to the local authority, which has to find the funding for this”, they are going to see the poorest communities in Britain pay for the legacy of an industry that made this country rich. I urge the Minister, please, to think again about how we can make sure that communities are safe and that the money and the funding are there to make sure that the coal slides, which are likely to come more frequently, do not provide long-term financial and economic problems for those communities.

I am a little surprised by the hon. Gentleman’s response because the last time that he raised this issue at Treasury questions, the UK Government responded extremely constructively, with £31 million of financial support, including £22 million to address the flooding of coal sites and £9 million for coal tip repairs, which I thought he might at least have welcomed. Notwithstanding that, at the request of the Welsh Government, the Coal Authority is supporting work to undertake a safety review of all the small tips in Wales, regardless of ownership, but he should also recognise that it is a devolved matter.