UK Government urged to help secure Wales’s coal tips to avoid future disasters

·2 min read

The UK Government is facing fresh calls for funding to help secure Wales’s coal tips and avoid future disasters.

First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford wants Boris Johnson to commit to long-term investment in coal tip safety which would “help communities who have already given so much”.

It comes as a survey shows where the higher-risk tips are located, including 71 now revealed to be in the worst category.

Wales has 2,456 identified tips, of which 327 are classified as higher risk, and these have been broken down into local authority area.

Wales' disused coal tips in the high-risk to low-risk categories. (Welsh Government handout/PA)
Wales’s disused coal tips in the high-risk to low-risk categories (Welsh Government handout/PA)

Neath Port Talbot has the greatest number of sites at 607, but Rhondda Cynon Taf, also in South Wales, has the most sites classified as being at higher risk at 75.

Those that are in the highest risk category do not pose an imminent or immediate threat, the Welsh Government has said, but require more frequent inspection.

Rhondda Cynon Taf councillor Andrew Morgan said: “This data shows that substantial long-term investment is needed if we are to make sure that necessary repair work is carried out and to ensure the safety of these sites across Wales.

“Despite a cross-party joint letter endorsed by all of the 22 council leaders in Wales requesting UK Government funding, it is disappointing that – despite some initial financial support – they have so far refused to commit to an ongoing programme of funding.

“The spending review gives a chance for the UK Government to give some much-needed reassurance to communities that are still living in the shadow of their industrial legacy.

“By working together we can help to make sure that we protect these sites against future climate change risks, and to prevent repeating past disasters.”

The collapse of a coal tip on a primary school in Aberfan in 1966 took 144 lives, including those of 116 children.

The Tylorstown landslide, in February 2020, prompted the Welsh and UK governments to set up a joint Coal Tip Safety Taskforce to assess the immediate status of disused coal tips in Wales.

The group is to meet for the fourth time on Tuesday, where the Welsh Government will stress the need for investment to be frontloaded in the coming years, as rainfall intensifies and temperatures increase because of the changing climate.

It is estimated the cost of dealing with the disused coal tips over the next 15 years will be between £500 million and £600 million.

Mr Drakeford said: “These sites pre-date devolution. Our funding settlement does not recognise the substantial, long-term costs of remediating and repairing these sites.

“Tomorrow’s spending review is an opportunity for the UK Government to use its financial powers to help communities who’ve given so much to Wales and the United Kingdom during the coal-mining years.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting