§ 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 15 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.