What assessment has the Minister made of the role vegetation can play in mitigating risks at the coal tips which are of current concern?
To ensure the safety of our communities, we aim to consider all possible approaches to mitigating any risks from disused coal tips, including the role of vegetation. Revegetating coal tips can help to increase or restore tip stability. However, each tip is different and specific management options are determined on a case-by-case basis.
We have recently funded the installation of erosion control matting at the Wattstown Standard tip in Rhondda Cynon Taf. This will assist in the re-establishment of vegetation to manage the deterioration of a previous landslip.
Our programme of coal tip safety technology trials includes a trial of GroundSat technology for soil moisture mapping. This will take into account the drainage performance of tips in relation to ground cover, providing important information about optimal vegetation management.
To support the reclamation and repurposing of Wales’ disused coal tips, we will also be commissioning a programme of research on opportunities to transform these wasted assets into something positive for our communities and environment. This can include opportunities for increasing biodiversity coverage and tree planting.
Our communities, which continue to be affected by the dangerous legacy of the UK mining industry, should not be expected to shoulder a disproportionate cost of the reclamation of disused coal tips. The cost of any actions to mitigate and address the risks created by the legacy of the UK coal industry, including vegetation, should instead be supported on a UK basis and we continue to call on the UK Government to meet its responsibilities in this regard.