HC Deb 23 February 1976 vol 906 c11
9. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the National Coal Board on the future of opencast mining in Wales.

Mr. Alec Jones

None, Sir. Authorisation for opencast coal mining is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, but my right hon. and learned Friend is consulted by him on all applications in Wales because of his environmental responsibilities.

Mr. Abse

With the National Coal Board's hungry eyes upon the shallow coal in South Wales, is there not an urgent need for the Minister to make clear that we are not prepared to accept a second violation of our valleys, which are still only recovering from the assaults of the last Industrial Revolution? Is not my hon. Friend aware that at Abersychan the Coal Board is plotting to create, over a period of many unendurable years for my constituents, one of the largest holes and highest tips in Wales, which will make a mockery of all the splended land reclamation schemes already in existence and all the replanning that has taken place for improved housing and schools which are now coming to that area?

Mr. Alec Jones

I am sure my hon. Friend is aware that if the Coal Board does make a formal application for authorisation to work on the site, which is causing such serious concern, there will be an opportunity for objections to be made, and if objections are made to the local planning authority, as I suspect the question intimates, an inquiry will be held. At that time my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy will be obliged to take into account all the circumstances that my hon. Friend has so vividly painted.