Plans to overhaul "outdated" laws that were introduced following the Aberfan disaster have been unveiled.
Nicholas Paines QC, Public Law Commissioner at the Law Commission of England and Wales, said: “The laws governing coal tips in Wales date from an earlier age and no longer offer adequate tools to manage Wales’s legacy of coal tips.
The new proposals would replace the 1969 Mines and Quarries Act— which the Law Commission described as "no longer fit for purpose".
The changes proposed by the new regime include:
A proactive and holistic approach to coal tip safety: this would allow earlier intervention to prevent tip problems developing, help to tackle issues beyond tip instability and protect against future implications of climate change
The plans propose the creation of a new body to supervise tips in Cymru, which would:
Compile and maintain a register of all disused tips in Wales
Arrange for inspections of tips and the creation of tip management plans
As required, designate tips as high risk (in relation to tip slides and/or other risks) which would bring into play an enhanced safety regime with increased involvement of the supervisory authority to minimise dangerous hazards occurring.
Paines QC said: “The laws governing coal tips in Wales date from an earlier age and no longer offer adequate tools to manage Wales’s legacy of coal tips. Only a small minority of tips have the potential to be a danger but new legislation is needed to enable all tips to be effectively monitored, preventive work to be done to avert danger and remedial work to be carried out to reduce any existing risks.
“We think our proposed reforms would significantly improve the management of coal tips and especially the highest-risk tips. We are keen to receive feedback on our proposals to help us to ensure that we achieve the best design for coal tip safety management.”