Connect with us

News

Welsh Government Calls On Westminster To Help Fund Safety Of Coal Tips

Welsh government calls on Westminster to help fund safety of coal tips

Every time it rains heavily, Cllr Robert Bevan’s phone starts ringing and his social media feed is busy with people worried the coal tip that looms above the village of Tylorstown in south Wales might be in danger of slipping.

“They’re asking me: ‘Rob, is it going to happen again?’ The anxiety, the anguish is terrible,” said Bevan. “While the tip is there, even if you’ve got the best engineers working on it, you can never be sure it’s 100% safe. The tips are an albatross around our necks.”

The Welsh government is on Tuesday spelling out its requests of the UK government in this autumn’s spending review. Top of the list is a call for Boris Johnson’s administration to share responsibility for the tips and allocate long-term funding to make them safe.

It says that an estimated 40% of all UK coal tips are in Wales and about one in seven of these are classed as high risk. The Labour-controlled Welsh government argues that extreme weather caused by the climate crisis is making many of the tips unstable and believes at least £500m to £600m will be needed over the next 10 to 15 years to make them safe.

A tip above Tylorstown in Rhondda Cynon Taf partly collapsed during the storms of February last year, sending 60,000 tonnes of waste tumbling into the river close to the village’s leisure centre. It blocked part of the river valley, broke a foul sewer and wrecked a footpath and cycle path. Luckily, nobody was hurt.

After lobbying by the Welsh government, the local council and “ranting” – his word – from the Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, the UK government agreed to contribute £2.5m to a clear-up, a fraction of the estimated £18m the remediation project is costing.

“That feels measly,” said Bevan, a former mine electrician. He argued that the coal that was taken out of the valleys fuelled the whole of the UK. “The legacy of mining is still here. We’re living with it every day,” he said

Bevan said the memory of the 1966 Aberfan disaster, in which 144 people, 116 of them children, died when a junior school was engulfed in a black avalanche of slurry, coal waste and tailings from a tip, springs to mind whenever the subject is brought up. “It’s at the back of your mind when the rains come.”

This week – 20 months after the slip – workers continue to shore it up. Teams, some of them using ropes, clambered over the steep tip. Diggers and dumper trucks beavered away.

Dorothy Lewis, 80, who has run the Tylorstown village shop for half a century, said for as long as she could remember, people had debated what to do about the tips. “They used to talk about taking them down and using the material to build roads,” she said. “The problem is that it costs so much money.”

Philip Hathway, 72, a retired design engineer, paused to gaze up at the tip as he turned up for a gym session at the leisure centre. “I was a teenager when Aberfan happened. There’s still an anxiety from that all these years later.” He believes the UK government should dip into its pockets. “The whole of the UK benefited from coal,” he said.

After the Tylorstown landslip, the Welsh and UK governments set up the coal tip safety taskforce. It identified 2,144 coal tips in Wales, predominately in the south Wales valleys.

Coal tip safety in Wales is a devolved issue but the government argues the tips are a legacy of the country’s industrial history, which predates devolution.

The Welsh finance and local government minister, Rebecca Evans, is calling on the chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak to “share responsibility” and allocate funding to deal with the “pre-devolution legacy” of mining in Wales.

She said: “Climate impacts are increasing the risks disused coal tips pose to our communities. The UK government has a legal and moral responsibility to work with the Welsh government to address this issue.”

Kira Philpott’s house has a view across to the Tylorstown tip site. “It’s a bit of a mess, isn’t it?” she said, looking across the black scar in the green hill.

She lives nearby, beneath another tip. “Every time it rains hard you look up there and wonder,” she said. “If that came down we’d all really be in trouble here. We wouldn’t have a chance.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “In December 2020, to help with the unforeseen impact of Storm Dennis, we provided £31m of additional funding to the Welsh government, of which £9m was to repair vulnerable coal tips.

“Ultimately, however, the management of coal tips in Wales is a devolved matter and therefore not one the UK government would expect to provide additional funding for.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

Continue Reading

News

Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

Continue Reading

News

Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending