§ Mr. George
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what assistance he proposes to give to Walsall council for dealing with the limestone caverns near the town centre.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
Arrangements are being made for a programme of research work commissioned by the Department and financed jointly by the Department, the metropolitan borough councils of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the West Midlands county council to determine the extent and physical characteristics of limestone caverns in the Black Country and to establish the degree of risk of ground movement, if any. The research is expected to begin in June and to be completed in 18 months.
The research report will make recommendations about any necessary remedial measures to deal with abandoned workings, together with an estimate of their costs. Under the new powers specially provided in section 117 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 contributions by way of grant may be made towards the cost of any remedial works eventually approved.