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Work to assess safety of coal tips progresses as helpline launched

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The new measures are part of ongoing work to assess the safety of all tips, which is being overseen by First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford and Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart in the wake of storms Ciara and Dennis.

The review, by the Coal Authority, will combine all existing data about coal tips in Wales to provide a single register and standardise coal tip safety ratings in a new system.

All local authorities in Wales have provided their records, details of inspection regimes and details about their risk management processes. This information has been assessed by the Coal Authority and guidance is being developed to support the development of a consistent approach. 

The Coal Authority has produced a central database of spoil tips across the former South Wales coalfield by using a combination of GIS data, laser scanning, aerial photography and historical maps. The database will be published when the work is completed.

The helpline – 0800 021 9230 – will enable the public to report any concerns about coal tips in their local community.

As well as being available to help residents report any concerns, the new helpline is also available to receive calls from anyone who may notice issues with the drainage of spoil tips.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

At the meeting with the Secretary of State for Wales last month we agreed further work would be carried out to co-ordinate between all bodies which inspect coal tips – including the Coal Authority, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and local councils.

Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said:

We made a commitment to improve the management of Wales’ coal tips and the information available to the people who live near them.

Good progress has been made on this vital work. The new helpline will mean anyone with safety concerns about the coal tips in their community can report them and get the information they need quickly and for free.

Across Wales, local authorities have reviewed contingency planning arrangements for landslips and Natural Resources Wales and the Coal Authority are planning any necessary remediation work.

Based on this exercise, the Coal Authority has also identified around 400 spoil sites on private land which will now be inspected.

A review of existing legislation has also been carried out and options for new legislation are being considered that could establish a more robust management regime that can provide greater public assurance about the risk from spoil tips.

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