34. Mr. Slater
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government if he is aware that it is important that firms who seek to extract clay from good agricultural land should restore back as far as possible the land to its original state; and how far his regulations cover the position.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (Mr. Ernest Marples)
Restoration is important wherever minerals are extracted from fertile land; though what is possible varies from case to case. Local planning authorities can and do require restoration in suitable cases.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that great play has been made in this House about the unsightly pits we have all up and down the country, and that even at this moment there are opencast sites where coal has been extracted 60 feet down in the earth? Does he not think that some of the sites that we see 1083 travelling between the north and London where clay has been extracted are very unsightly, and that some pressure ought to be brought to bear to have the land put back into productive use?
§ Mr. Marples
I have only stated the general principle. Restoration is much easier where the working is shallow than where it is below the water table level. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind, perhaps he would send it in, and we could have a look at it, but I should utter this warning, that if a large mass of materials has to be carried 50 or 100 miles the cost is quite astronomical.
Mr. T. Williams
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that if in many cases the top soil were replaced it would allow trees to be grown if not food?