HC Deb 17 September 2003 vol 410 cc841-2
1. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

What recent discussions he has had with the First Minister of the National Assembly for Wales about contaminated phurnacite land in the Cynon valley. [129536]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with the First Minister. I share my hon. Friend's concern about the site in her constituency, and I am pleased that a taskforce involving all the relevant stakeholders is now up and running. It is moving things forward, and I hope that there will be progress shortly.

Ann Clwyd

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's answer, but that is hardly progress. The site closed in 1990, and for the last 13 years the residents of Abercwmboi have lived next to 28 acres of highly contaminated land—some of the worst toxic waste left anywhere in the United Kingdom. It is high time we saw action rather this snail's-pace progress, if it can be described as progress at all.

Mr. Touhig

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend's tireless work on this matter. Trawling through Hansard, I noted that she had asked questions about it back in the 1980s. I too am concerned about the time that it has been taking to overcome the problem, but the taskforce is now minded to move some of the waste from the site, which I know is what she and the residents want. I shall endeavour to keep her fully informed of anything I discover about progress, and I hope that all interested parties will work together to clean the site and make it available for a much better use than that to which it has been put for the past 20-odd years.

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