Opencast Coal

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13 March 1945.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Brown Mr Thomas Brown , Ince 12:00, 13 March 1945

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what proportion of the £2 per ton which it is now costing for production of coal from opencast mining is used for the restoration of the land; and is he satisfied with the manner the restoration of the land is being done.

Major Lloyd George:

Restoration involves two processes, namely the levelling of the sub-soil and the return of the top soil which has been lifted and stocked separately prior to excavation. The schedule rate for digging overburden provides also for levelling and it is not possible to separate these items, but the cost of lifting, transporting and spreading top soil after levelling is 2s. 6d. per cubic yard. This applied to a site from which four feet of coal had been extracted with an average depth of soil of one foot, would work out at approximately 7½d. per ton of coal won. On the whole I am quite satisfied with the manner in which restoration is being done.

Photo of Mr Thomas Brown Mr Thomas Brown , Ince

Am I to understand from that reply, that the Department is satisfied with the way the restoration of the land is being carried out by the contractors receiving these sums; and is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that reports are coming through almost every week that the contractors are leaving the land in a slovenly state?

Major Lloyd George:

I cannot accept that, because I have personally visited many reclaimed sites and, as I said the other day, I have spoken to farmers who work these fields, and, speaking generally, they were satisfied with the land after restoration.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

If, later on, the land sinks again, will anything be done to recover it a second time; is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the land gets worse and that something ought to be done?

Major Lloyd George:

My hon. Friend will appreciate that it is difficult, when the cause of the sinking is 40 feet down, to restore the land completely to its original levels. It takes from 20 to 25 years for complete settlement to take place, and it is impossible to say at the moment whether the land looked exactly the same before the excavation took place.