Minister supports coal tip register

(Title Image: ITV Wales)

This week’s questions to the Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham), continued to be dominated by the Welsh Government’s response to recent flooding.

It’s up to councils to top-up Welsh Government financial support for flood victims

Llyr Gruffydd AM (Plaid, North Wales) asked for an update on any additional resources made available to Natural Resources Wales following the flooding. There had to be appropriate funding provided year-upon-year, not in response to a disaster. He also suggested different parts of Wales were supported to a greater extent than others.

“Now, I’ve consistently raised with you….the need to ensure that core resources are available for NRW and that they are sufficient. It’s a matter of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, very often, if something happens and then the funding is made available. That funding should be in place year on year to ensure that the capacity is in place.”
– Llyr Gruffydd AM

The Minister said funding to support clean-up efforts has been made available from multiple government departments. The level of support provided to flood victims is also consistent regardless of where you are in Wales – though it was a matter for each council whether they top-up support provided by the Welsh Government.

Coronavirus and farming

Shadow Environment Minister, Andrew RT Davies AM (Con, South Wales Central), turned to the other big topic at the moment. With some estimates suggesting up to 20% of the workforce could be off sick at some point due to coronavirus, how would this impact farming– particularly as the deadline for single payment applications closes in May when the virus is expected to peak?

The Minister told AMs every Welsh Government department was looking at how coronavirus would impact their responsibilities. A lot of the Environment Department’s staff can work from home if need be, but the likes of farm inspectors obviously can’t.

“This will be something that we will continually start to work up now we’ve seen some of the projected figures and the reasonably worst scenario. So, this is an ongoing piece of work. We’ll have to be very flexible. It’s the same for this Chamber, isn’t it? If 20% or more of us are unable to attend Senedd sittings, obviously business will be affected. So, this is something that we’re looking at right across Government, and I’m sure the (Assembly) Commission are too.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

Minister supports register of coal tips

There were several questions about the safety of coal tips following recent flooding. Mohammad Asghar AM (Con, South Wales East) said recent landslides evoked memories of the Aberfan disaster, while Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) asked whether rules around coal tips were being changed to take into account increased rainfall and flooding in the future?

The Minister told the chamber that high-risk coal tips were inspected by the end of last week and agreed that the safety standards around coal tips needed to be looked at again.

The situation regarding responsibility for coal tips was complicated, but something the Welsh Government were seeking to clear up:

“Across all of these coal tips there are….local authorities, Natural Resources Wales or Welsh Government, the Coal Authority, and there are some private owners. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have a register of all of these. I think that’s something that we need to get up and running very quickly. Clearly, even if it’s a private landowner, the local authority…. (should) have the powers to go in and inspect it. So I think it’s really important that we bring this piece of work to a close as quickly as possible.”
– Environment, Energy & Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths

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