§ Mr. Skeet
asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many opencast coalmining operations (a) are currently working and listed, (b) have been authorised in the past decade with specific method of use and (c) are subject to a planning application; and if, in the latter case, he will give an indication of the average time taken to obtain approval.
§ Mr. David Hunt
Forty-four NCB opencast sites are currently coaling in England and Wales and 10 in Scotland. The respective figures for licensed opencast sites is 57 and 25.
In the 10 years to September 1985, 112 authorisations have been granted in England and Wales and 25 in Scotland. Of the 112, 7 were specifically for coking coal and 11 for anthracite; of the 25, 2 were for low volatile coals.
Since the requirement for planning permission was placed on the NCB on 1 March 1984, 5 NCB sites in England and Wales have received planning permission and authorisation under the Opencast Coal Act 1958. Four of these are now working. A further 23 have yet to be resolved because planning permission has been refused or authorisation not yet granted or the planning application has not yet been determined. It would not be meaningful, 487W in the circumstances, to quote an "average time", but there can be as long as 15 months between application and determination.