HC Deb 01 February 1984 vol 53 cc220-1W
Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, in regard to his response to Cmnd. 8877 entitled "Coal and the Environment", if he will list the undertakings he has already fulfilled and dates for those which have yet to be undertaken.

Mr. Macfarlane

The Government's response to the report by the Commission on Energy and the Environment, "Coal and the Environment", was given in Cmnd. 8877. Action on the undertakings given in the relevant paragraphs of the White Paper is as follows.

  • [Paragraph 22]. The Government, in co-operation with the local authorities, water authorities and the energy supply industries, is studying the availability of land for coal-based energy developments in Yorkshire and Humberside and the east midlands. A final report is expected later this year.
  • [Paragraph 29]. The review of the NCB's rating formula forms part of the general revaluation of the non-domestic sector announced in Cmnd. 9008 "Rates".
  • [Paragraphs 35, 36]. Talks have been initiated with the NCB and the Yorkshire and Humberside local authorities to establish programmes for the release, reclamation and redeveopment of derelict land. In 1983–84 the Government made available £3 ½ million for coal tip reclamation. The allocations for 1984–85 have yet to be finalised.
  • [Paragraphs 39, 40]. The water authorities, in conjunction with the NCB, are being asked to provide information on the problems of water pollution from abandoned mines, the remedial actions that are available, and the costs involved. When replies have been received I will consider whether furher action is needed. The Government have already begun the phased implementation of part 2 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 dealing with discharges into water courses.
  • [Paragraphs 43, 45, 49, 51, 54]. As a first step towards examining the problems of spoil disposal, consultants have been appointed to advise on the development of a framework for evaluating different spoil disposal options. They will report in 1985. The Department is also making £2½ million available to help finance innovation spoil disposal schemes for subsequent evaluation. One scheme which has already benefited from this is the experiment spoil disposal pipeline at Horden colliery, County Durham. Other schemes are under discussion between the Government, the NCB and the local authorities. An interdepartmental committee is also reviewing the dual tendering procedures which are designed to increase the use of colliery waste for road fill. The committee will report later this year.
  • [Paragraph 55]. The NCB's rights under the General Development Order are being considered as part of a more general review of the GDO's - mineral provisions which is currently underway.
  • [Paragraphs 62, 67]. The independent Waddilove committee has been set up to review the working of the subsidence compensation system and is expected to report later this year. Work is also underway in updating departmental advice on development on unstable land.
  • [Paragraph 71, 77]. Responsibility for authorising opencast mining will be transferred to mineral planning authorities under transitional arrangements to be introduced later this year. Proposals to repeal the relevant provisions of the Opencast Coal Act 1958 are currently being prepared.
  • [Paragraph 93]. The review of air pollution control legislation is still in its early stages and is awaiting resolution of a number of draft EC Directives on the subject.

Other undertakings given in Cmnd. 8877 are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Energy, Scotland and Wales.