§ Lord Mason of Barnsley
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are in discussion with the British Coal board and the National Rivers Authority regarding the discharge of contaminated minewater after colliery closures; what steps are being taken to protect water supplies, rivers and stillwaters, and wildlife from contamination; what research is being carried out to assess the pollution problem; and whether any areas have so far been recognised as requiring treatment by the British Coal board, National Rivers Authority and government departments.
§ Baroness Denton of Wakefield
My department and the Department of Trade and Industry have been in regular contact with the National Rivers Authority and British Coal about this and other issues. It is for British Coal in consultation with the NRA to assess any environmental effects of colliery closures and to consider what action may need to be taken to avoid water pollution.
The Water Resources Act 1991 requires British Coal not to cause pollution and the NRA as the water regulator is ensuring the legislation is applied. The NRA has been carrying out investigations where it is considered that there could be a risk of pollution. A potential problem has been identified in the Durham Coalfield specifically in the upper valley of the River Wear and solutions are actively being sought.