HC Deb 23 July 1956 vol 557 cc14-5
13. Mrs. Castle

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what reply he has sent to protests against the proposal to develop opencast mining at Gawthorpe.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

As I told the hon. Lady in a recent letter, I recognise the strong objections to the working of the Gawthorpe Hall opencast site but, as the site contains 1 million tons of coal, I have decided that it must be worked. My authorisation to the National Coal Board is subject to stringent conditions designed to ensure the safety of Gawthorpe Hall itself, minimise the damage to other amenities, and secure early and careful restoration.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the fact that the Minister himself has admitted, in the letter which he has sent me, that this scheme will involve blasting operations very near to Gawthorpe Hall, which contains valuable plaster and glasswork, and that it will mean the felling of trees and the diversion of the River Calder, all of which will help to devastate an area which has very few amenities, will he not look at this matter again?

Mr. Jones

Due precautions are being taken to ensure that the blasting does not affect the hall. The fact with which I am confronted is that the demand for coal is high. The deep-mined output is insufficient to meet the demand. I am, there-force, left with very limited freedom of choice, but, within that limited freedom, I have taken all the precautions that seem to me practicable to ensure the safety of the Hall and the least possible destruction of the amenities.

Mr. Fort

Has my right hon. Friend made this clear to Padiham Urban District Council, which has represented to him the strong feelings felt in Padiham about it? What reactions has my right hon. Friend had to his explanation?

Mr. Jones

The conditions which I mentioned to the House have certainly been conveyed to the local council. I am not as yet aware of any response from the council.

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