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Buffer zones and restoration highlighted at opencast summit.

A WELSH government minister has promised a review of the rules that enforce buffer zones around opencast mining sites.

Carl Sargeant held a summit to discuss the challenges of restoring opencast mining sites when operations come to an end.

Councils, opencast site operators, the Coal Authority and community groups representing those living near unrestored sites attended.

Mr Sargeant said following the summit he intends to hold a review of the MTAN 2 advice to planning authorities, looking at the issue of exceptions to the 500m buffer zone policy, and at securing strong financial bonds over sites.

Before the summit he said: "I am concerned about the significant and lasting impacts of the failure to restore on communities living in close proximity to opencast sites. A number of sites have been left with insufficient money to enable final restoration, as a result of questionable land transfer transactions and the legacy of the privatisation of the coal industry in the mid- 1990s.

"In several cases there are insuffi-cient monies in the bonds attached to the sites to cover restoration in the event of default by the operator.

"The object of today is to begin the debate on possible solutions. Those present at the summit will set out their perspective on the way to secure more effective restoration of opencast site."

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 11, 2015
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