HC Deb 11 June 1991 vol 192 c485W
Mr. Ken Hargreaves

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to publish the results of the 1988 minerals survey.

Mr. Yeo

I am pleased to announce that the results of the survey are published today, 11 June 1991. A copy is available in the House of Commons Library. These findings show that the majority of the minerals industry acts responsibly and effectively where our planning system requires them to restore their land when extraction or tipping ceases. But I would like to see the whole of the industry operating to the highest standards and actively ensuring that all their sites will be adequately restored and will not create future dereliction for public funds to reclaim.

I am very concerned that a third of the workings still in operation, and almost 60 per cent. of the areas for mineral waste tipping, either have no planning conditions requiring final reclamation or that the conditions which do exist are not thought satisfactory.

That is why the Government are taking a number of steps. The Planning and Compensation Bill now contains provisions to bring old interim development order mineral sites into the planning system and their operations up to modern standards.

We have instituted a review of the operation of the Minerals Act 1981, which will include how best to improve the activities on the many mineral permissions granted in the 1950s and 1960s. We are to fund a pilot study by Groundwork to encourage the improvement of the environmental performance of the minerals industry, and we are funding a number of important research projects concerned with improving reclamation practices within the industry.

All this should result in the minerals industry becoming "better neighbours" while still supplying the minerals which are needed by the country.