§ Mr. David Watkins
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list his statutory responsibilities with reference to the restoration of opencast coal mining sites.
§ Mr. Strang
My right hon. Friend the Minister has no statutory responsibility for the restoration of opencast coal mining sites. The Ministry's role was set out in 1958 during the passage of the Opencast Coal Bill through Parliament.
This role is to advise the Department of Energy on the agricultural implications of formal applications by the National Coal Board to extract coal by opencast methods and on the planning conditions which would be attached to any subsequent authorisations. The Ministry subsequently advises on and supervises those working operations which could affect the subsequent restoration of the land, undertakes for five years the agri- 158W cultural after-treatment and management of the restored land, and carries out any further remedial work which may be required after the land has been released back to farming.