November 20, 2023 - The Welsh Government has made its data on disused coal tips publicly available, with a map showing the location of the 350 tips with the potential to impact public safety.
The Welsh Government has published the data in response to the work of its Coal Tip Safety Taskforce. It was established following a major landslide at the disused coal tip in Tylorstown, Rhondda Cynon Taf, in February 2020.
The key objective of the taskforce was to address the gap in information around disused coal tips. As a result, Welsh minister for climate change Julie James commissioned the Coal Authority to lead on a data collection project.
In October 2021, the Welsh Government published a breakdown of tips by local authority and classifications, where sites that require frequent inspections were labelled as C and D. The coal tip data shows that there are currently 350 such coal tips in Wales, with a total of 2,566 across all categories.
The Coal Authority inspects category C coal tips once a year and category D twice a year. Local authorities then carry out any necessary maintenance work identified by the inspections.
The Welsh Government has made an additional £44.4M available to local authorities for work on both public and privately owned tips.
James thanked the Coal Authority, local authorities and Natural Resources Wales for their help and support in preparing the coal tip data for publication.
“It has been a mammoth undertaking to identify, record and categorise all disused coal tips in Wales into a single central database, which did not exist before,” she said.
“For this data release, we have focused on category C and D tips as they need more frequent inspections, so we can identify and carry out any maintenance when needed.
The Welsh Government said it had written to more than 1,500 landowners and almost 600 occupiers of properties across Wales to inform them whether they have a disused coal tip on their land.
“In our programme for government, we also committed to introducing legislation during this Senedd term. Our priority is to ensure that people living and working near coal tips feel safe and secure now and in the future,” James said.
“Our proposals will achieve that by setting in place a long-term, fit for purpose regime, which will be led by a newly created public body.
“The first minister included the Disused Tips Bill in his summer 2023 legislative statement, and I look forward to the progression of the Bill when it is introduced to the Senedd next year.”
The current law relating to coal tips is the Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969, which dates back to a time when Wales had an active coal industry.
Welsh ministers asked the Law Commission to review current legislation on disused coal tips in 2020.
The Law Commission published the results of its consultation and its recommendations in March 2022. The Welsh Government then released its proposals for a new regime in May 2022 in the Coal Tip Safety (Wales) White Paper, which built upon the Law Commission’s recommendations.
Following further consultation and a review by the Law Commission, the Welsh Government accepted - or accepted in modified form - the majority of the commission’s recommendations.
Subject to ministerial agreement, the government will introduce a Bill on Disused Tip Safety.
The new map of the Category C and D disused coal tips can be found here.