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Wales maps out ‘higher-risk’ disused coal tips

piece of coal
(Photo by Envato Elements licence)

The locations of all “higher-risk” disused coal tips in Wales have been published as part of a “mammoth” undertaking to ensure safety.

Julie James, Wales’ climate change minister, told the Senedd that online mapping of disused tips marks a major milestone.

The publication of the data comes after a coal tip safety taskforce was established in the aftermath of a landslide in Tylorstown, Rhondda, in February 2020.

Ms James emphasised that the 350 category C and D tips are not an immediate risk.

“The category of a tip is based on a number of things,” she explained.

“For this data release, we have focused on category C and D tips as they are more likely to need frequent inspections so we can identify and carry out any maintenance when needed.

“It does not mean they are unsafe, but they may be larger and are more likely to be closer to communities or major infrastructure.”


The minister said the Coal Authority has been commissioned to inspect all category C tips once a year and category D tips twice a year.

Ms James told MSs: “Tip information has already been shared with local authorities and local resilience forums to assist development of emergency preparedness plans where required for the higher-rated tips.

“However, as the publication of the locations of tips involved personal data and individual properties, it was vital we had a high level of confidence in the boundary information before making it publicly available. We have had to tackle an immensely complicated coal tip ownership landscape and undertake a lengthy, painstaking quality assurance exercise of the data.”

The Welsh Government will be holding online events and public drop-in sessions in communities impacted around Wales over the coming weeks.

Private sector

Labour backbencher Hefin David said the cost of remediating just one tip in his Caerphilly constituency has been estimated at between £30 million and £40m.

Dr David welcomed the first minister’s confirmation that the Welsh Government would have no objection to private providers being involved in coal tip remediation and restoration.

Ms James reiterated that remediation from any source would be welcome as long as it meets the requirements of the inspection and maintenance regime.

She told MSs that letters have been sent to more than 1,500 landowners and nearly 600 households to inform them they are likely to have all or part of disused tip on their land.


Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru’s shadow climate change minister, criticised the UK Government for failing to “put right the legacy of its neglect”.

“Westminster must pay towards this,” said the South Wales East MS.

Responding to Joel James, the Tory MS for South Wales Central, the minister confirmed that people can dispute the findings of the mapping.

Ms James told the chamber that £44.4 million has been made available for councils to carry out works on public and privately owned tips.

She said a Disused Tips bill will be introduced next year, adding: “Our priority is to ensure people living and working near coal tips feel safe and secure now and in the future. And our proposals for a new regime aim to achieve just that by setting in place a long-term, fit for purpose regime for disused tip safety. This will be led by a newly created public body solely focused on this work.”


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Wales maps out ‘higher-risk’ disused coal tips