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What we are doing to identify any risks to public safety from coal tips.

First published:
9 June 2021
Last updated:

Background

Coal tips are a legacy of Wales’ mining past. The Welsh Government is committed to ensuring our communities are safe.

In February 2020, the impact of climate change saw increased winter storms with extreme rainfall. This caused a landslip at a disused coal tip in Tylorstown, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

In response to the Tylorstown landslide, the Welsh and UK Governments set up a joint Coal Tip Safety Taskforce. This was set up to assess the immediate status of disused coal tips in Wales.

Programme of work

The Welsh Government and its partners are delivering a programme of work. This includes inspection and maintenance of coal tips. It also includes developing new policy and legislation.

Tip categories

Disused coal tips are being given interim categories. The categories reflect which tips may need more frequent inspections to assess drainage and stability. 
Categorisation considers many different factors which are assessed by technical experts. Factors considered include: 

  • Size and geometry
  • Potential hazards
  • Potential receptors
  • Site history
  • Any associated infrastructure
  • Inspection and monitoring requirements

Category D    

A tip with the potential to impact public safety, to be inspected at least twice a year.

Category C    

A tip with the potential to impact public safety, to be inspected at least once a year.

Category B  

A tip with the unlikely potential to impact public safety.

Category A    

A tip with the very unlikely potential to impact public safety.

Category R    

A tip with the very unlikely potential to impact public safety. Potentially removed or levelled and often built over.

Inspections and maintenance

A lot of work has taken place since February 2020 to know the status of each tip and to carry out maintenance.

The Coal Authority have been asked to inspect category C coal tips once a year and category D twice a year. This work helps to identify any maintenance works needed.

Local authorities carry out maintenance work identified by the inspections. The Welsh Government has made available £44.4 million in capital funding for coal tip maintenance over financial years 2022 to 23, 2023 to 24 and 2024 to 25. 

Technology trials

The Welsh Government is funding technology trials at suitable higher-rated coal tips. These aim to identify technologies that could contribute to the safe and effective management of disused tips. 

The trials cover more than 70 sites in Wales. We will review the results of the trials as they are completed. 

Coal tip data

We now have a greater understanding of the number, location and ownership of disused coal tips in Wales. 

We published the following interim data on 14 November 2023.

View the location of category C and D disused coal tips.

Table 1: Disused coal tips in Wales
Local authorityCategory
D
Category
C
Category
B
Category
A
Category
R
Total
Blaenau Gwent51338639128
Bridgend63637946179
Caerphilly74466818206
Cardiff11148024
Carmarthenshire01585853170
Flintshire001940665
Isle of Anglesey0037010
Merthyr Tydfil154431311122
Monmouthshire21078027
Neath Port Talbot132816138530617
Pembrokeshire01654061
Powys01206330
Rhondda Cynon Taf29501079348327
Swansea053712542209
Torfaen530814910175
Wrexham032110785216
Overall category total8326770612093012566
  1. Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Gwynedd, Newport and The Vale of Glamorgan have no recorded disused coal tips.                         
  2. Figures are subject to change as a result of ongoing inspections and assessment.

Policy and legislative reform

Coal tip safety is devolved to Wales. The law relating to coal tips is The Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969. This dates from when there was an active coal industry. 

Welsh Ministers asked the Law Commission in 2020 to review current legislation on disused coal tips.

It included a consultation from June to September 2021. The Law Commission published the results of the consultation and its recommendations in March 2022.

Welsh Government published its proposals for a new regime on 11 May 2022 in the Coal Tip Safety (Wales) White Paper. The proposals build upon the Law Commission’s recommendations. The consultation closed on 4 August 2022 and we published a summary of the responses in November 2022.

Welsh Government published its interim response to the Law Commission’s review in September 2022 and its detailed response in March 2023. Welsh Government accepted, or accepted in modified form, the majority of the Law Commission’s recommendations. The response provides an overview of Welsh Government’s proposed approach, and its response to each of the individual recommendations. 

Subject to Ministerial agreement, Welsh Government will introduce a Bill on Disused Tip Safety in the third year of the government's legislative programme.

Privacy notice for landowners

If you have a disused coal tip on your land please view our privacy notice for landowners

Further reading