Historical spoil tip sites in Wales

The Coal Authority is undertaking an emergency review of all spoil tips in Wales.

Spoil tips, sometimes referred to as coal tips or spoil heaps, vary in age and size, and are mainly composed of stone and other discarded material from historical mining operations.

Most disused spoil tips throughout Britain are now in either local authority or private ownership.

The Coal Authority has a management programme which ensures its spoil tips are inspected at least twice a year.

Local authorities have different inspection and management programmes for the spoil tips they own.

Regular inspection and maintenance is crucial when managing historical spoil tip sites.

Effective drainage infrastructure is also vital to move water away from the tip material, as water ingress poses the biggest risk to stability.

Many tips have formal and informal drainage channels which need to be kept clear of debris and vegetation to ensure the efficient flow of water, especially during heavy rainfall.

Some spoil tip sites have a weather station and monitoring boreholes, with higher risk sites having movement sensors that can be remotely monitored. If sufficient movement is detected this will automatically trigger a remote alarm system.

This urgent safety review being undertaken will produce a standardised approach to the future inspection and maintenance of all spoil tip sites in Wales.

As part of this review, historical spoil tips will be categorised according to risk.

Each site will be given a rating in 2 parts, classifying the inherent risk from A to D, with C and D classified as ‘the sites with more risks’.

A further numbered 1 to 3 sub-category, based on the tip location and any risk to people, property or critical infrastructure, is also being applied in the following way:

  1. is a risk to people or critical infrastructure
  2. has a risk impact on the environment, such as rivers or other infrastructure
  3. is classed as a remote area

We will be using drones, along with other technology, to help survey some of the larger sites and to assist with this rapid assessment of these structures to keep people and property safe.

If you want any further information or safety advice about historical coal tip sites in Wales contact the:

Coal tip safety team

Coal Authority
200 Lichfield Lane
NG18 4RG

This team holds information and can offer safety advice about historical coal tip sites in Wales.

Monday to Thursday: 8:45am to 5pm
Friday: 8:45am to 4:30pm

You can call us 24/7 to report a coal mining hazard or to get safety advice on 01623 646 333.

Published 23 March 2020