§ Mr. Penhaligon
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the quantity of coal quarried from opencast sites in each year since 1969; and what are the estimates for 1974 and 1975.
§ Mr. Eadie
Figures for opencast saleable output are only readily available for financial years:
Year Million tons 1969–70 6.2 1970–71 7.9 1971–72 9.9 1972–73 10.1 1973–74 8.9
These totals include coal produced at licensed opencast sites delivering coal to the NCB, in addition to sites worked under contract to the board, but exclude output from sites from which coal is disposed of direct to markets.
The output forecast for 1974–75 is 9.5 million tons; and during 1975–76 the aim is to produce in excess of 11 million tons. The exact figure will be dependent on the number of authorisations granted under the Opencast Coal Act of 1958. Over 1 million tons of this output would be from sites for which an authorisation has not yet been granted.
§ Mr. John H. Osborn
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is now the tonnage of opencast coal being extracted; and what further steps are being taken to increase production over the next three to five years.
§ Mr. Eadie
About 10 million tons per annum. The final report of the CIE states that opencast coal production could be increased to 15 million tons per annum or more within four years. The Government propose to facilitate this increase by restoring the NCB's power to make compulsory rights orders over land needed for opencast coal sites.