§ Mr. Steinberg
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the number of landfill sites in County Durham at present used for dumping colliery waste; and when the dumping of colliery waste into the sea will cease.
§ Mr. Baldry
Information concerning the number of landfill sites used for dumping colliery waste is not held centrally.
Disposal on the beaches and at sea is licensed by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985. On 14 June 1990, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announced that the dumping of colliery waste on to beaches in the north-east of England should stop as soon as practicable. No application would be approved to permit the dumping of minestone on to beaches beyond December 1995, or offshore into the sea beyond December 1997, unless use of the planning system has shown that no practical land-based methods of disposal were available. This timetable allows for alternatives to be identified, necessary planning permissions to be sought and a chosen method to be identified.
The pipeline discharge of liquid tailings is carried out under consents given by the National Rivers Authority (NRA) under the Control of Pollution Act 1974. The NRA has also told British Coal that it expects early progress to be made on the identification of alternative disposal methods.