A NEW body should be created to oversee coal tip safety and put ‘community safety at the forefront’, the Welsh Goverment's climate change minister has said.

Minister Julie James has today (Thursday) set out plans to introduce a new law to manage the legacy of centuries of mining in Wales, and ensure those living around former tips are kept safe.

Part of these plans include the recommendation of a supervisory authority to oversee the new regime, which would ensure management arrangements are in place for the most high-risk coal tips, as well as compile and maintain a new national asset register.

The full proposals, which also include a new national approach to the categorisation of tips, will be led by the new supervisory authority, which would arrange tailored hazard assessments for each site to scope the threats a tip might pose, with a management plan then agreed.

While the new supervisory authority would ensure management arrangements are in place for the highest category tips, it would introduce maintenance agreements for those in lower category sites.

Addressing the lack of enforcement powers within the existing legislation is also key. This would include allowing rights of access for inspections, upkeep, or remedial works, with civil sanctions imposed when the new legislation is not complied with.

The White Paper consultation on the Welsh Government’s proposals for coal tip safety is now open and will run for 12 weeks.

Ms James said: “Wales has a proud mining heritage, but I understand the nervousness felt by those living in the shadow of coal tips. Due to increased risks from the climate emergency, it’s clear the current coal tip safety law is no longer fit-for-purpose.

“The Welsh Government is committed to introducing legislation during this Senedd to ensure people can feel safe and secure in their own homes, within communities that were vital in firing up the industrial revolution.

“We have put these people at the heart of our proposals for a whole new regime, while ensuring we protect critical infrastructure and continue to care for our environment.”