§ 14. Mr. Mullin
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what funding he will provide for British Coal to enable it to prevent pollution of the River Wear caused by the closure of pits in Durham.
§ Mr. Mullin
Is the Minister aware that the NRA is saying that if British Coal were to turn off the pumps at Easington when the pit closes, the River Wear—which 349 supplies 20 per cent. of the water for the city of Sunderland—would be devastated by pollution? Is he further aware that British Coal is flatly refusing to accept any responsibility for the consequences of turning off the pumps, other than giving 14 days' notice? What is he doing to ensure that British Coal lives up to its responsibilities?
§ Mr. Eggar
No, the hon. Gentleman is not entirely correct. If he had read the letter to him from the NRA, he would know that he had misquoted it. As I understand it, the problem relates to pumping issues at pits above Easington that have been long abandoned. It is clear that there would be an issue were pumping and production at Easington to cease. There has been a careful examination of the matter, both by the NRA and by British Coal. There is no question of any rapid decision being taken to cease pumping in that section of the Durham coal mines.
I assure the hon. Gentleman, as he was assured by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment last night, that full consultation is being carried out and there will be appropriate levels of co-operation between British Coal and the NRA.