Minewater Pollution

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 17th May 1995.

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Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South 2:30 pm, 17th May 1995

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the National Rivers Authority regarding the allocation of responsibility for the control of minewater pollution; and if he will make a statement. [32197]

Photo of Mr Robert Atkins Mr Robert Atkins , South Ribble

My Department maintains regular contact with the National Rivers Authority about minewater pollution. Responsibility for the control of such pollution lies in the first instance with mine operators.

Photo of Chris Mullin Chris Mullin , Sunderland South

Will the Minister confirm that the National Rivers Authority is anxious that the Coal Authority should be given a statutory responsibility for pollution arising from mines that have been closed? Although it is working well with the Coal Authority now, should the money run out or should there be a change of policy, there is nothing to stop the authority walking away from mine pollution with potentially devastating consequences. Does the Minister plan to do anything about that?

Photo of Mr Robert Atkins Mr Robert Atkins , South Ribble

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will recognise that we hold similar views on the determination to ensure that abandoned mines do not cause detrimental pollution. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that during a recent visit to Durham by the chairman of the Coal Authority the matter was discussed between county councillors and the Coal Authority. Durham county council was able to issue a favourable press release afterwards saying that a number of concerns had been addressed. The Coal Authority has a continuing commitment to do what is necessary to treat abandoned mines because of the possibility that they may cause pollution and has confirmed that the pumping, where necessary, will continue. That commitment stands firm.