HC Deb 31 January 1949 vol 460 cc202-4W
Mr. Mitchison

asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning (1) how much land in the County of Northamptonshire, and in which parishes or rural districts has been worked for iron-ore and left without being restored to fitness for its former use; and how much has been so worked and left after restoration;

(2) how much land in the County of Northamptonshire and in which parishes or rural districts is now being worked under obligation to restore to its former use; what is the form and what are the terms of each such obligation; and how much of the land is being so worked without obligation to restore

(3) on how much land in the County of Northamptonshire and in which parishes or rural districts is he considering applications for the working of iron-ore; and whether it is his intention in each such case to impose an obligation to restore the land to fitness for its former use.

Mr. Silkin

I am not able without considerable research to give up-to-date figures of the amount of land already restored and the amount left unrestored. I would, however, refer my hon. and learned Friend to the summary of Mr. Water's Report (Cmd. 6906), published in 1946, paragraph 10 of which gives estimates for the whole Midland ironstone field. Further details are being compiled but may not be-available for some little time.

Applications are now before me for permission to work 60,137 acres in the County of Northampton, partly opencast and partly by underground mining, as follow:

County District Acreage
Brixworth Urban District 4,415
Daventry Rural District 927
Kettering Rural District 23,054
Corby Urban District 328
Rothwell Urban District 542
Desborough Urban District 268
Irthlingborough Urban District 107
Oundle and Thrapston Rural District 25,799
Towcester Rural District 1,434
Wellingborough Rural District 2,654
Wellingborough Urban District 600
Burton Latimer Urban District 9
Total 60,137

Additional applications made to the county council, but not yet before me, are believed to cover an additional 8,000 acres.

In only two cases (covering 529 acres) have individual permissions been granted, and in both cases full restoration to agriculture is required or has been undertaken. Decision on the remainder, including any conditions to be imposed regarding restoration, are awaiting the results of an investigation which is being carried out into certain technical problems, the operators being allowed meantime temporarily to continue existing workings without any legal obligation under the Planning Acts to restore the land. In many cases, however, restoration is in fact being carried out either voluntarily or in pursuance of the terms of the relevant lease.

It is my intention to impose conditions in all suitable cases requiring the carrying out of such after treatment as may be needed to enable the land to be brought back into some form of beneficial use. The extent to which this is possible and the form which after treatment should take are questions now being examined by a Standing Conference which I appointed last September, on which the county councils concerned, the ironstone producers, the Ministry of Agriculture and other interested Departments are all represented. Mr. A. H. S. Waters also kindly consented to serve on the Conference in an independent capacity.