Plaid Cymru’s Rhondda candidate for the forthcoming Senedd elections says Westminster is failing Wales once again by neglecting to pay for coal tip safety measures.
Leanne Wood was speaking after receiving a refusal from the Tory Secretary of State for Wales in response to a letter she wrote asking for Westminster to fund the full cost of coal tip remediation. In his reply, Simon Hart MP wrote that the Welsh Government’s budget is ‘the natural source of funding for this work going forward.’
The work has been estimated to cost as much as £500 million. Bronwen Maddox, director of the London-based think tank Institute for Government, suggested this week that the tips could be made safe by Westminster as an ‘attractive’ and ‘economical’ way of ‘shoring up support for the United Kingdom.’
Leanne said the Tories should foot the bill with “no strings attached.”
“The Westminster Government owes Wales a debt for the wealth it extracted during the coal industry years,” she said. “Coal was dug from the ground at a great cost to human life and long-term health in our valleys.
“Few, if any, coal-mining communities were not touched by tragedy as a result of some accident down the mine. The idea that servility to the United Kingdom is the price for making these tips safe is perverse when they should have been made safe decades ago.
“The remedial works, starting with the tips that are the most dangerous of all, should be done with no strings attached, not as an act of bribery.
“Rhondda Cynon Taf has the highest number of category D tips – the most dangerous of all - in the whole of Wales and people want to see the investment being made available now to begin the vital work of safeguarding our citizens. Westminster seem to be more intent on playing politics on this matter.
“The Secretary of State for Wales’ comments about the work needing to be funded from the Welsh budget is irresponsible and dangerous. Once again, this post is proving itself to be Westminster’s Minister in Wales, rather than Wales’ Minister in Westminster.
“We cannot allow this to stand – for the sake of all our former mining communities and the people that live there.”
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