Spoil heap management The Coal Authority Report 2014/15

Spoil heap management The Coal Authority Report 2014/15

Spoil heap management

Below is taken from



“Resolving the impacts of mining

To monitor how climate change could impact on our spoil heaps we have installed weather and telemetry flow monitoring at strategic locations in South Wales. Analysis of this data will inform us of changing weather patterns and how we manage significant rainfall events. This will ensure water is effectively drained from our spoil heaps without causing downstream problems or flooding. The data also allows us to review our risks and the way we respond to weather-related incidents.

We have initiated and led a tip management forum with local authorities in South Wales with a view to sharing best practice and developing a standard risk approach. This forum will be utilised to provide local authorities and Natural Resources Wales with information on our weather monitoring data.”


When The Coal authority introduced and led a tip management forum with local authorities in South Wales with a view to sharing best practices and developing a standard risk approach for spoil heap management. Why did was there a major landslide? The authorities were informed and advised of changing weather patterns for years, were the volatile unpredictably coal tips being monitored if they were why no impending landslide warnings?


Can the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales, The Coal Authority and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council provide assurance all coal tips are safe in heavy rain? What about the private coal tips, who is ultimately responsible for them, How much impute has the Health and Safety Executive had or is having on coal tip safety?    


Apparently, the council has been aware of this for years and had no funding? If and when a disaster happens it’ll be too late and those who ignored the warnings should be held accountable.

A response to a Freedom of Information Request to The Coal Authority


Ref: Coal Tips once owned by the National Coal Board in Rhondda Cynon Taf


(1) Do The Coal Authority hold Halcrow Reports for all coal tips in RCT and what dates were the reports commissioned? If not all coal tips, what coal tips in RCT have you got Halcrow Reports for and the dates the reports were commissioned?


(A) The Coal Authority does hold Halcrow reports; however, the vast majority of these are in paper format and will have been passed to us from the National Coal Board and British Coal Corporation when the Coal Authority was created in 1994. To retrieve and extract the information you have requested would require a manual review of all our paper records.

These will have to be identified and retrieved from our archives; each report would then have to be checked to confirm if this is a report for a tip, the location of the tip and any detail on when it was commissioned.


An initial search from our systems using the word ‘Halcrow’ returns 291 entries. An estimate of 20 minutes per record would equate to 97 hours, which exceeds the appropriate limit of 24 hours and £600. This engages Section 12(1) cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit, once part or the whole of the information requested exceeds the limit, there is no requirement for the Coal Authority to comply with the request.

Under Section 16 of the Act, we have a duty to provide advice and assistance; however, I am unable to suggest a refinement that would bring this within cost.


(2) Have The Coal Authority provided or supplied The Welsh Government or Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council with copes of Halcrow reports or any other reports on the coal tips in RCT? If the answer is yes to question (2) What dates were the reports provided to The Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council?


(A) The Coal Authority has not supplied Halcrow reports to the Welsh Government and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council. In relation to any other reports, this would require a manual review of our records. An initial search of our systems using the words ‘Report and Tip returns 630 entries, we would have to follow a similar process as per our response to question 1. This will exceed the appropriate limit under Section 12 (1) of the Act.


As a duty to assist under Section 16 of the Act, you may find it more beneficial contacting the Welsh Government, Natural Resources Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council directly.


(3) I have been informed The NCB and Coal Authority has sold off many of its coal tips for as little as £1 to avoid any liabilities incurred is this correct?


(4)  If the answer to question (3) is no what is the average cost of tips sold by (A) The NCB and (B) The Coal Authority in RCT?


(A) In response to questions 3 and 4, the National Coal Board (NCB) was formed in 1947 and in 1987 renamed the British Coal Corporation (BCC) until 1994 when the Coal Authority was created. We do not hold a centralised record for the 47 years of NCB and BCC and therefore cannot confirm that we have been provided with these records.

We can confirm that we have sold two tips as the Coal Authority one at £10,000 and the second site was sold in two lots at £405,000 and £512,256.


(5) How many coal tips are the Coal Authority still liable for in RCT?


(A) Six


(6) If the Coal Authority has coal tips in RCT where are they cited and what category has been placed on them? I am aware that the Welsh Government and RCTC hold this information but they refuse to publish it on the grounds it is an ongoing process, will The Coal Authority hide behind this excuse? The NCB records on coal tips should be made public and placed in the public domain unless The Coal Authority has something to hide?


(A) The Coal Authority publish our disused tip sites on GOV.UK at the following link Disused

colliery tips owned and inspected by the Coal Authority – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


(7)  As The Coal Authority was asked by Natural Resources Wales and The Welsh

Government to look into the safety of coal tips in Wales what is the ongoing process that prevents publication of where the coal tips are located? If it is the continuous monitoring of the coal tips it would mean the information would never be made public, or is there another reason can you explain?


(A) Welsh Government holds this information and your enquiry should be directed to them.

The application of an exemption constitutes a refusal notice under Section 17(5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, with Section 12(1) being applied.


Section 12(1) of the FOIA is a provision, which allows a public authority to refuse to comply with a request for information where the cost of compliance is estimated to exceed a set limit known as the appropriate limit.


Requests where the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit


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