§ Mr. Ronnie Campbell
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what data he has collated on medical surveys in the United Kingdom linking dust from opencast mining with high levels of illness among those living close to the workings. 
§ Ms Jowell
The Department of Health, jointly with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, is currently funding a project designed to look 599W at the effects of opencast mining on health. This project, which started in August 1996, is being undertaken at Newcastle University and is due to be completed this year. The research will improve our understanding of this issue substantially.
The Department is also aware of a recently published study of air pollution and lung function which was undertaken in West Wales and this is currently being considered. A view on the implications, if any, of opencast mining on the health of the local community arising from this study will be issued later in the year.