§ Mr. Albert Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the criteria he adopts on whether to allow development of opencast mining; whether he has overruled the inspector's report to allow the mining of first-class coal in the Vale of Belvoir 166W and if he will give the reasons for his decision; and to what extent he makes a distinction between development of new sites of this kind, and opencast developments in the countryside in areas where there are old coalfields.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I am still considering the report of the inspector who held the public local inquiry into the National Coal Board's Vale of Belvoir applications. The main criteria that I adopt when I determine any minerals planning application include the need for mineral working at the particular location, wherever it may be, and the effect of working on the environment. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy adopts similar criteria when considering applications by the National Coal Board for the authorisation of opencast coal working under the provisions of the Opencast Coal Act. 1958.