§ (1) Not less than thirty days before tipping operations are begun from a mine or quarry of a prescribed class or description on premises which, immediately before the operations began, were not the site of a tip to which this Part of this Act applies, the owner of the mine or quarry shall give notice to the inspector for the district of the intention to begin tipping operations on those premises.
§ (2) Not more than two months after the date on which tipping operations from a mine or quarry of a prescribed class or description cease at an active tip, the owner of the mine or quarry shall give notice to the inspector for the district that tipping operations have ceased at that tip.
§ (3) Where tipping operations from a mine or quarry of a prescribed class or description are to be resumed at a tip which was formerly a closed tip, the owner of the mine or quarry shall give notice to the inspector for the district of the intention to resume tipping operations at the tip not less than thirty days, or such shorter period as the inspector may permit, before the operations are resumed.—[Mr. Mason.]
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ Mr. Speaker
Hon. Members will note that we are discussing at the same time Amendment No. 1 and Amendment No. 2, in Clause 4, page 4, line 22, leave out from 'to' to end of Clause and insert:'the beginning or ending of tipping operations from a mine or quarry notice shall be given to the inspector for the district, namely—
- (a) thirty days before the beginning of tipping operations from the mine or quarry
389 on premises which immediately before the operations began were not the site of a tip to which this part of the Act applies; and
- (b) two months after the day on which tipping operations from the mine or quarry cease at an active tip; and
- (c) thirty days before the resumption of tipping operations from the mine or quarry at a tip which was formerly a closed tip'.
§ The Minister of Power (Mr. Roy Mason)
I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.
The new Clause is intended to replace Clause 4 in the Bill as printed. During our discussions of that Clause in Committee, the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Gibson-Watt) moved an Amendment the purpose of which was to ensure that the Mines Inspectorate was informed before mine or quarry refuse was deposited on a new site, or tipping resumed on a closed tip. The Bill at present proposes that it should be given afterwards. The hon. Member's arguments were persuasive and, although I agreed that his proposal that 30 days advance notice should be given in the case of tipping on a new site was reasonable, I pointed out:..it may well be impossible to give the same notice, that is, 30 days, when tipping is resumed on the site of a closed tip."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee B; I9th November, 1968; c. 30.]However, I undertook to consider before Report how far I could go to satisfy much of what he required, and this proposed new Clause is the outcome.
The hon. Member will find, I think, that I have been able to meet him almost entirely. The periods of advance notice to be given before tipping operations are begun on a new site or are resumed on a closed tip and the time within which notification of the cessation of such operations must be given to the inspector for the district are those which the hon. Member put forward in his Amendment, which I see he has tabled again.
There are two differences between that Amendment and the new Clause. The first is that the Government Amendment enables me to prescribe the classes or descriptions of mines or quarries to whose tipping operations these three provisions apply. The Bill as drafted includes this power and I consider that it is desirable to retain it, so that the provision does not have to be applied in 390 the case of small mines or quarries producing minimal quantities of refuse, which could not in any circumstances give rise to danger.
Second, the new Clause enables the inspector for the district to permit the resumption of tipping on a closed tip within a shorter period than the specified 30 days. This is to meet the case where tipping on an active tip may have to stop at short notice, that is, because of a plant breakdown or in the interests of safety, and he resumed elsewhere to avoid the mine or quarry having to close down. Such a power for inspectors is acceptable, because a closed tip will form part of the mine or quarry and will already have been subject to the provisions of this Bill, when enacted, and will have been subject to the inspector's supervision.
The new Clause does not, however, enable an inspector to permit tipping to start on a virgin site within the stipulated period of 30 days. Before such a site can be used for tipping, the mine or quarry operators will have to secure planning permission and also carry out any procedures laid down under Regulations made under Clause 1(2) of the Bill to ensure that the land is satisfactory for use as a tipping site.
These hurdles will not be cleared overnight. Prudent mine and quarry owners will, therefore, plan in advance and have tipping sites in reserve. There will be nothing to stop the owners giving notice to the inspector for the district of their intention to use the sites for tipping well before they are expected to be needed. There is thus no need for inspectors to have power to allow tipping to begin on a new site within 30 days, nor would it be desirable for them to have such a power. I should perhaps make it clear that the purpose of 30 days' notice is not to enable the inspector to carry out tests to prove that the site is suitable, but to enable him to check that the procedures prescribed in the Regulations about siting have been properly observed.
I thought that it was right to give the House a full explanation of the new Clause. It is in deference to the views of the hon. Member and his hon. Friends in Committee. This is substantially what the Opposition in Committee required, 391 particularly the hon. Member for Hereford, and I hope that he will feel that his demands have now been satisfied.
§ Mr. David Gibson-Watt (Hereford)
The hour is late and it is regrettable that we must enter the Report and Third Reading stages of a Bill such as this, which puts into legislation the findings of the Aberfan Report, at 10.15 p.m. Nevertheless, having debated this matter in Committee upstairs on 19th November last, I agree with what he said, and that it is acceptable to us. In Committee the Minister said:Although I could not agree at the moment with the hon. Member "—he was referring to meexactly on the prescribed days of notification before tipping starts, or before cessation of tipping, or before resumption of tipping, I am prepared to consider before Report how far I can go to meet him in order to satisfy much of what he requires."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, STANDING COMMITTEE B, 19th November, 1968; c. 30.]We are grateful that he has taken this view and we believe that this part of the Bill, as amended, is a great advance on what the Government originally put forward. I will not add anything more at this stage.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)
I will not delay the House if that is avoidable. I am somewhat concerned with the amount of work that is being placed on the shoulders of mines' inspectors. Would it not be to the advantage of all concerned if the local authority were also consulted? After all, the local authority has certain planning powers and might have been active in a known mining area for a considerable time. Meanwhile, the local mines' inspector might be almost a stranger to the area.
I am particularly concerned about older coalfields. The tip in South Wales which is in our minds is a particular instance of what we must bear in mind. Having regard to the physical topography of that coalfield and the fact that many millions of tons of coal have been mined there, I believe that someone in addition to the mines' inspector should be consulted. If not, I shall definitely not be satisfied with this part of the Bill.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.