Rhondda Cynon Taf Council why is it not in the Public Interest at the moment to publish locations of Coal Tips in RCT?
Writing in WalesOnline Rob Browne said, Wales' most dangerous coal tips – broken down by council area Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest number of dangerous coal tips in Wales. Welsh Government has now published a list of which council area they are in. However, it is still refusing to publish its exact locations.
Caerphilly borough council has revealed the locations of the category D coal tips under its ownership while there are another three locations, which are not under the council’s direct control. Caerphilly borough council is one of the few councils in Wales to release this information publicly. Merthyr council in 2018 reviled Category D tips were Incline Top, Pendarren; Pan-y-Ffyndd, Penyard; Graig Pit, Lower Pentrebach; Nant yr Odyn, Pentrebach; Ynysfach and Bedlinog.
Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest number of high-risk tips, with 23 categories D and 52 categories C. First Minister Drakeford said to BBC Wales the Welsh government was not hiding anything; is this statement correct? If he is not hiding anything why is the Welsh Government refusing to publish the list of all coal tips and the locations instead of hiding behind a Public Interest Test, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, would this mean the Coal Tip information for Rhondda Cynon Taf will never be released because Andrew Morgan, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) council, said the tips were regularly monitored. Is just an excuse as the RCT Council saying “If the information were released to you before it has been analysed and fully completed”
As the leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Andrew Morgan has overall control of all decisions the council make with his cabinet members Councillor Maureen Webber (Deputy Chair) Councillor Robert Bevan, Councillor Ann Crimmings, Councillor Mark Norris, Councillor Joy Rosser Councillor Rhys Lewis, Councillor Christina Leyshon and Councillor Geraint Hopkins the leader can publish the information the council has up to this point in time if he wanted to. So why is he holding back the information? The council’s response is written below after a Freedom of Information Request is there a political reason behind the non-discloser? There are the local Government elections on 5 May 2022 is this the reason?
Residents of RCT have the right to know precisely where the 23 categories D and 52 categories C coal tips are sited, is the local council and Welsh Government trying to hide something from the public?
Should residents be asking where are three RCT MPs and Welsh Senedd members the silence is deafening, is it because they are all Labour Party Members except for a few South Wales Central members should Labour Party loyalty come before the residents they represent or do they not care if there is a similar situation that may happen as it did without warning on 21 October 1966? They were aware of the danger then but refused to reveal the information, a bit Déjà vu don’t you think? What happened to a duty of care to inform the people constantly anxious when we get heavy rain not knowing if a coal tip near them is classified as dangerous. Why are governments playing politics?
The Welsh Government and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council have said, “If the information were released to you before it has been analysed and fully completed”. In answer to that excuse for not releasing the information, the council know where the coal tips are they have been categorised therefore they know the position of each coal tip this information has been placed on the Internet so why the stonewalling by the government and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council?
Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969 and the Mines and Quarries (Tips) Regulations 1971.
Part II deals with “disused” tips, on land where extraction is not continuing. The duty to ensure the integrity and safety of the tip lies with the landowner, the duty to enforce any remedial action lies with the local authority. Local authorities may undertake work to determine the condition of the disused tip. Where, by reason of instability, the tip is a danger to the public, they can serve notice on owners to undertake the necessary works as specified in the notice.
Below is the response from Legal & Democratic Services at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council
Ref: Coal tips within the boundary of Rhondda Cynon Taf
Your request for information has been considered in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
The Council’s response is set out below:
A The list of all coal tips within the boundary of Rhondda Cynon Taf?
B The name and locations of the 23 coal tips with category D within the boundary of RCT?
C The name and locations of the 52 coal tips with category C within the boundary of RCT?
D The name and locations of the 95 coal tips with category B within the boundary of RCT?
E The name and locations of the 89 coal tips with category A within the boundary of RCT?
F The name and locations of the 44 coal tips with category R* within the boundary of RCT?
G How many coal tips is RCTC responsible for the name and locations and what category risk status are they?
H How many coal tips are in private ownership the name and locations and what category risk status are they?
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide you with the information that you have requested above (A – H).
This is because the information is still in the course of completion and has not yet been finalised, therefore we are applying the exception set out under Regulation 12(4)(d), namely material still in the course of completion. In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations this email acts as a Refusal Notice to those elements of the request.
Having considered the Public Interest Test, the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. If the information were released to you before it has been analysed and fully completed, it could mean that the Council were releasing inaccurate and incomplete information and we have a responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. Releasing the information before it has been fully completed could also result in a number of concerns and queries being raised by the public that would delay the full publication of the document, which we understand is to be released during the first quarter of 2022.
I How many coal tips are The Coal Authority responsible for the name and locations and what category risk status are they?
You will have to re-direct this part of your request to the Coal Authority. Contact details are as follows:
J How regular are coal tips monitored and inspected, coal tips category D, category C, category B, category A and category R*?
· Category D1 – once every Month
· Category D3 – Once every 3 months
· Category C – Once every 6 Months
· Category B – Once Every 12 Months
· Category A2 – Once Every 2 Years
· Category A4 – Once Every 4 Years
· Category R – These Tips are ‘Reclaimed’ therefore no inspections are undertaken
K How many surveyors and engineers are employed to monitor and inspect coal tips for any movement or activity in the 303 coal tips.
1 x Senior Technician
1 x Senior Engineer
The Flood Risk Management Team also support the tip inspection process undertaking tip inspections. This work is further supplemented with inspections by external consulting engineers and The Coal Authority.