HC Deb 30 July 1956 vol 557 cc901-2
16. Mr. Hamilton

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the estimated reserves of coal in the opencast project now being started near Kinglossie, Fife; and how soon coal will be produced.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

The Westfield opencast site contains at least 20 million tons of coal, and production will start in 1958.

Mr. Hamilton

Can the Minister, at this juncture, say whether this project will be an economic proposition? Further, can he give an assurance that, when the coal has been extracted, the Coal Board will not leave the site in the same disgusting condition as that in which it left one in nearly the same area?

Mr. Jones

Certainly it will be an economic proposition; otherwise it would not have been undertaken. In reply to the second part of the Question, I would say that certainly the land will be restored as completely as modern methods make possible.

Colonel Sir A. Gomme-Duncan

Can my right hon. Friend say by how much food production will be reduced in this area by the bulldozing of crops at the present time?

Mr. Jones

No, Sir, but, ordinarily, the value of opencast coal to be extracted from a particular site is more than twenty times the value of the agricultural produce which that site would otherwise produce.

18. Mr. Speir

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is now able to make a statement regarding improved terms of compensation payable to occupiers of land requisitioned for opencast mining operations.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

No, Sir. The Government's examination of this question is not yet completed, but it is my intention to make a statement as soon as I am in a position to do so.

Mr. Speir

Does the Minister realise that the victims of these opencast operations suffer very severe inconvenience and financial loss, and, surely, should receive generous and prompt treatment?

Mr. Jones

It is my wish to improve the terms of compensation as soon as possible, and in due course I shall certainly make a statement.