§ Mr. R. J. Taylor
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is aware that representatives of the Ministry of Fuel and Power are about to destroy growing crops on farms in the Morpeth area, Northumberland, for the purpose of producing outcrop coal; that farmers all over the area are deeply concerned that they may suffer the same loss if they cultivate their land; 1792W and, in view of the wish of these fanners to produce the maximum amount of food, will he insist that all land to be used for outcrop purposes should be scheduled in advance and so save money and labour on cultivation and seeds.
§ Sir A. Hudson
As regards the first part of the Question, I am informed that no new opencast mining operations are likely to be undertaken this summer in the Morpeth area. As regards the second part, I am aware of the concern which is felt by certain farmers in Northumberland about the possible loss of crops from land requisitioned for the production of coal by opencast methods. Every effort is made to dovetail coalgetting operations with harvesting, but it is not possible in every case completely to avoid the destruction of some crop. In common with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture I am anxious to reduce this loss to the minimum, but I doubt if the desired effect would be achieved by adopting the hon. Member's suggestion, as the interval between the proving of the coal and its actual extraction might very well be so lengthy as to leave the farmer in greater doubt than he is now. My Regional Controller, however, will readily give the fullest information in his possession to interested inquiries about the prospective commencement of coal mining operations.