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What we are doing to identify any risks to public safety from coal tips.

First published:
9 June 2021
Last updated:

Background

In February 2020, the impact of climate change saw increased winter storms with extreme rainfall. This caused a landslip at a disused coal tip in Tylorstown, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

Coal tips are a legacy of Wales’ mining past. The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring our communities are safe.

In response to the Tylorstown landslide, the Welsh and UK Governments set up a joint Coal Tip Safety Taskforce. This was set up to assess the immediate status of disused coal tips in Wales.

Programme of work

The Welsh Government and its partners are delivering a programme of work. This includes inspection and maintenance of coal tips. It also includes developing new policy and legislation.

Risk categories

Disused coal tips are being given interim risk categories. The categories show how often tips need inspecting. Higher-risk tips have a C or D category. These tips need more frequent inspections to assess drainage and stability.

Inspections and maintenance

A lot of work has taken place since February 2020 to know the status of each tip and to carry out maintenance.

The Coal Authority or relevant local authority are inspecting all higher-risk tips. Further inspections will take place on a regular basis. Regular inspections help to identify any signs of tip movement and any maintenance work needed.

Local authorities are carrying out maintenance work identified by the inspections. The Welsh Government has provided funding for the maintenance programme.

Regular inspections of C and D rated tips are being undertaken by the Coal Authority and local authorities.

Technology trials

The Welsh Government is funding technology trials at suitable higher-risk coal tips. These aim to identify technologies that could be used to monitor tips. Such technologies could also give an early warning of any tip movement.

The first technology trial began in March 2021. It is taking place at Wattstown National tip in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

What to do if you have concerns about tip safety

Contact the Coal Authority’s coal tip safety team via Freephone number 0800 021 9230 or email: tips@coal.gov.uk

This team holds information and can offer safety advice about historical coal tip sites in Wales.

Coal tip data

Work is ongoing to gather information on coal tips across Wales. This includes information on the number, location, risk status and ownership of tips. We published the following interim data on 26 October 2021:

Disused Coal Tips in Wales

Local authority                                           Category     

  D C B A R* LA total
Neath Port Talbot 12 27 163 375 30 607
Rhondda Cynon Taf 23 52 95 89 44 303
Wrexham   3 21 107 85 216
Caerphilly 7 44 67 79 8 205
Swansea   5 36 120 42 203
Torfaen 3 32 81 49 10 175
Carmarthenshire     58 59 53 170
Blaenau Gwent 3 11 38 66 10 128
Merthyr Tydfil 14 45 30 30 1 120
Bridgend 5 26 27 56 4 118
Flintshire     19 40 6 65
Pembrokeshire   1 6 54   61
Powys 1   18 6 3 28
Monmouthshire 2 10 7 8   27
Cardiff 1   10 11   22
Isle of Anglesey     2 6   8
             
Overall category total 71 256 678 1155 296

2456

A = Minor tip / restored tip; B = Unlikely to cause risk due to size or location; C and D = higher potential risk. A higher risk rating does not mean a tip is at imminent risk.

*R = Reclaimed tips 

1. Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Newport and The Vale of Glamorgan have no recorded disused coal tips.                         

2. Figures are subject to change as a result of ongoing inspections and following the development of a new categorisation system.

Policy and legislative reform

Coal tip safety is devolved to Wales. The law relating to coal tips is The Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969. This dates back to when there was an active coal industry. The legislation is not effective at managing the safety of disused coal tips in a holistic way. Reform is needed to reduce the risk of dangerous incidents occurring.

The Welsh Ministers asked the Law Commission to review current legislation on disused coal tips.

The review began in November 2020 and will run for approximately 15 months. The Law Commission will analyse responses and make recommendations to the Welsh Government. We will respond in due course.

The Welsh Government is committed to introducing new coal tip safety legislation for Wales.

Law Commission consultation

The Law Commission held a consultation on its review of laws on disused coal tips. The consultation ran from June 9-September 10 2021. The Law Commission will publish results of the consultation in early 2022.

Further reading